My horizon for the last two months has been the fields at the back of my house with the Bowland Fells in the background. I stayed in completely for the first four weeks or so and then only ventured out at quiet times on circumscribed local footpaths and lanes. The advice on lockdown changed for all of us, not just Dominic Cummings, a week or so ago. Hence the rush to the tourist hotspots and what looked to me like civil disorder. I was in no rush to follow.
Today I had a little job to do on the edge of the village, pin up a notice from the BMC relating to Covid19 risks on the gate leading into Craig Y Longridge, the local bouldering crag. So out came the car for the first time in weeks for a trip up there. The notice was in place but I for one won’t be going there to climb for some time as it is just like an indoor climbing wall with social distancing difficult and repeated use of the same holds by one and all.
Anyhow as I was out I thought I would drive further up the fell to a quiet parking spot, away from the bank holiday crowds, for a short walk with a change of scenery.
I parked by the temporarily closed New Drop Inn and for awhile watched the house martins flying back and forth to their nests under the eaves. I’m not sure whether I managed a photo or not with my snap and shoot camera.
A little way down the road a footpath sign pointed into a field. From the map, the path crosses the field diagonally but the grass was very long and nobody had ventured across. I decided instead to follow the top boundary where there had been a tractor. All went well and gates gave access to more fields until I was stopped by barbed wire which was easily circumvented to put me onto the right of way. This was no clearer but I kept finding broken stiles and gates leading to the industrial/agricultural buildings of Hougher Fall Farm, now restyled romantically as Bowland Forest Eggs. I made my escape to the Old Clitheroe Road. it had taken me over half an hour to walk half a mile but I’d enjoyed the exploration.
I remembered a track going off left from near here past an old reservoir. The gate was just down the road and propped up next to it a slate with a lovely handwritten poem by a Kathleen Jamie which I rather liked.
Through the gate and just off the track is the little reservoir where I watched a pair of Canada Geese paddling across the water with their six chicks. I was watching them when a female pheasant walked by with a couple of chicks.
Across rough ground were some grassed over quarries, marked on the map as Gannow Quarry. I imagined I’d spotted a climbable rock face but when I’d walked up to investigate it was only six feet high. I assume these small quarries were opened up for the reservoir construction.
Lennox Farm is being knocked about and extended. I’d reached the lane going up to the kennels and onto Longridge Fell, I was feeling breathless, hayfever? and I almost aborted the walk by turning downhill back to the road. Something made me turn left and carry on up onto the fell, puffing all the way. It was worth it for the hazy views over the Ribble Valley and the mature pines.
I met the first people of the day on the edge of the forest. Three mountain bikers up from Preston who seemed totally oblivious to the present crisis – “nothing to worry about mate”
Walking down by the fell wall I stopped to listen to my first cuckoo of the year and a finch? landed on the wall in front of me.
Back at the Newdrop I came across another poem slate this time a poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Are there more about? There seems to be an environmental theme possibly related to our present viral problems. I will keep my eyes open for them.
A strange walk really, I just followed my nose and pottered along taking in whatever came by and more came along than expected. Yet another Covid-19 local walk of exploration and enlightenment.
Good to see you venturing a bit further and I reckon that was quite reasonable. About a week ago I set off to do a little three mile walk from Heversham (we walked through on W’s Way) it is just 4 miles, but before I got to Milnthorpe my conscience got the better of me snd I turned round and went closer to home. BUT, yesterday I set off and did that walk at Heversham. My conscience was diminished but I still wondered if it was ok.
I was intrigued by your bird photo and couldn’t identify – I have sent it to Pete and Liz asking them to identify. They were very enthusiastic birders in esrlier years.
Look forward to your Heversham trip.
I didn’t know what the bird was, I thought a blackcap at first but not sure, more like a finch. I hope Pete can identify it from the poor photo.
Nice write-up BC👍.
That climbable rock face sounds just perfect for me and my feelings for heights! 😂
I actually walked a few hundred yards to it and it diminished in height as I got closer. I didn’t even post a picture. Mind you nowadays the young lads will boulder on the smallest rocks, sometimes lying down for the first moves.
Hi what a lovely walk away from people. You were so lucky with your fab bird photos. Very cute to see all the babies out. 🙂
Your Finch is a stone chat. Well done on the photo.
Loving the poems too. 🙂
Those poems are delightful, I’m hoping more will magically appear.
Spent a long time trying to photo a house martin, no chance they are so fast like the sand martins of yours the other day. I didn’t have one perch for me!
I did comment but seems to have disappeared! Maybe you can see it but I can’t. Anyway love the photos especially the chicks . Your mystery bird is a stone chat!
Thanks. Of course it is. I got bogged down with finches.
They are lovely birds. I like the poems too. 🙂
It sounds like a good walk of exploration – I love the little pheasant chick, he looks so cute 🙂
Yes, I just kept stumbling on new things whilst avoiding people on more popular tracks.
I’m still trying to isolate myself on medical grounds but it was good to explore a little further.
It didn’t work tonight and I came home empty-handed.
Grand to see you out and about. I’ve always like the Hopkins poem. Think of it often when out in the wilds. Regards John
Yes, I knew the Hopkins poem but I was new to the Kathleen Jamie one.
It is really delightful that someone is going to the trouble of creating these slate poems. I am trying to find out who.
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The small reservoir you show here was built to serve Dutton Manor estate in, I think, the 1870s. It still serves a much reduced estate but is increasingly difficult to maintain. Lack of mains water on the fell was a huge problem before bore hole technology. The building of much larger reservoirs all round about the fell to supply local towns with water was probably a reason for the lowering of the water table, and the drying up of springs on the cell’s uplands. I believe many fell-top farms had to be abandoned. It must have been heart-breaking after the hard labour of reclaiming the land.
Many thanks for that information, I really appreciate it. The more local history I accumulate the better.
Longridge Fell must have been a completley different place back in the 18 and 19th centuries and before the forest came.
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