This all happened a few days ago. I’d driven up the minor road from Slaidburn which heads over the hills to Bentham. As I crossed the watershed at the Cross of Greet I became aware of the vast landscape ahead of me. The Yorkshire peaks of Ingleborough and Whernside, the Barbon Fells and the distant Lakes overlooked a barren landscape of upland moor. There is nothing but sheep up here and they tend to sit on the road creating an additional hazard. I’m on my way to meet up with Sir Hugh whom I’ve not seen for 6 months due to Covid problems.

From the Taham Fell road, there is a turning to Botton Head, a culdesac, more of that later and then a sign to the mysterious Lowgill. I drove down the steep narrow lane hoping nothing would come the other way. We have arranged to meet in the village near the school where parking is just possible.

We had an idea of a route up and down the valley of the Hindburn River using paths and lanes.

The paths turned out to be little used and finding the bridges to cross the numerous streams became a challenge. The first path took us up to the little Church of the Good Shepherd, erected in 1888 by the Lancaster church architects Austin and Paley. Well named as these Tatham Fells are home mainly to sheep.The road leading up to it was 1in4 with an acute bend which must make attending Sunday service in an icy winter exciting.

The Hindburn was running high and the water was the colour of a well-brewed Pekoe tea. The way we chose ran alongside for a while. The name, as in neighbouring Roeburndale, is from the deer that roamed these parts in large numbers. I imagine there will still be a few about when you are not looking, as are red squirrels apparently.

We were in pathless sheep pastures with the occasional old barn helping navigation, distant Ingleborough kept popping up on the horizon.

For a while we walked alongside the River Hindburn.

Lower Thrushgill was the first inhabited house we came across, tastefully restored from its 1798 origins. At one point the path going by it seemed to head straight into their conservatory. Out on the lane we met up with a friendly deaf and mute man clutching a poorly photocopied map of the area, we helped him on his way by pointing out hopefully the correct route. He was the first person we’d seen all-day but shortly afterwards we met a lady and boy with their dog. The boy had been bathing in the river – simple pleasures reminiscent of my own childhood.

Approaching Botton Head.

We crossed the river and walked up to Botton Head Farm at the head of the valley. This old farm dating from the C17th is at the end of that culdesac road I’d notided on my drive over. The farmer, had he seen us coming? emerged for a chat which pleasantly gave us some history of farming in the area and more. He had lived here all his life and seen most of the surrounding farms abandoned and bought for restoration as country residencies. The land becomes rough, suitable only for sheep and the scattered barns no longer needed. A dying breed. At least he put us on the right track for a lost bridleway which had us searching for stiles and bridges. A magic spot by a side stream served lunch in the sunshine.

The lost ways were ‘followed’ to a farm building strangely named Swans and then a track to the road at Ivah. Here we met up with the lady and her dog, now much friendlier [ the dog that was] and coming down the lane a jubilant walker doing sign language. He had completed his circuit, thankfully our earlier directions had proved correct and helpful. Despite his limitations, we made out that he was ‘buggered’ from the day’s exertions. We weren’t that tired as we strolled down the lane to the few houses that make up Lowgill.

An impressive marble monument was in a prominent position by the road remembering four souls lost in WW1.

Until 1960 there used to be a public house here, The Rose and Crown, this may have been it…A lot of the houses had collections of presumably local stones from the fields. They looked like tortoise shells and felt heavy. I need to correspond with ‘the Rockman’ for their origins – he came up with name  ‘septarian nodules’. Concretions of sedimentary rock and minerals from the Cretaceous seas 50 – 70 million years ago.

So our six-mile exploration of this hidden Bowland valley had been a complete social distancing success. We parted with ideas of another equidistant meetup and walk in the near future.

My quandary was whether to take the easy option of going north to link up with the motorway home or go back over those lonely hills. The latter won so it was topdown for a road trip as good as anywhere in England.

Barbon Fells, Whernside and Ingleborough.

Cross of Greet road


Distant Pendle.

Source of the Hodder.

Roman road from Newton.


  1. 5000milewalk

    Hi BC, nice write-up! Lots of pics of Conrad’s back! Did he ever turn to face you? 😁
    It left me wondering what signs or gestures the guy made for you to interpret “buggered” though!!! 😳
    What car is the soft-top? Unfortunately I’ve not had nearly as many opportunities to get the roof of my XKR down this summer, hopefully September will be nicer. I’m off to South Cumbria this weekend to do Millom-Bootle and Bootle-Ravenglass coastal sections, hopefully I’ll get some sunshine to get the roof down while I’m tootling around.

    1. bowlandclimber

      I don’t talk a lot to Sir Hugh so he just turns his back on me.
      “That deaf and dumb kid
      Sure plays a mean pinball” Say no more.
      15 year old MX5, cheaper to run than your Jag – maybe half the fun.
      All the best with your next jaunt. Good forecast. Just left a comment for you on Ruth’s blog. Enjoy.

    1. bowlandclimber

      A lovely lost world to explore.
      It is in Lancashire, you don’t get me straying far!
      In the past it was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire.
      Interestingly as I drove over I had Radio Lancashire on, this automatically switched to Radio Leeds as I headed up to Cross of Greet and then picked up Radio Cumbria over the watershed. Coming back I had Radio Wales – confusing.
      The people up there don’t see many visitors so are happy to chat which enriches the day.

    1. bowlandclimber

      Yes. That is a fantastic lost world we had just explored. I think nearly every farm and house in the area is listed. I’m all for going back for further exploration. MInd you we picked the weather.

  2. Michael Graeme

    What a gorgeous and remote part of Lancashire. I did drive part of that route once, hooking up with the Bentham road, when, like you, looking for an alternative to the Motorway. I’d spent the day at Ingleton. I remember it was a terrific drive with parts of the scenery strangely reminiscent of Scotland. Didn’t see another vehicle all the way across to Slaidburn.

    Nice to see a shot of your roadster. I was beginning to feel like I was showing off with mine, but they’re such photogenic cars I can’t resist, or maybe I’m biassed.

    A great walk, and enjoyed the read.


    Keep well.

    1. bowlandclimber

      Thought you would like that one. Going back a few generations.
      I only showed a little of my car to compete with your Glasson trip. I am afraid to say mine doesn’t receive the love and attention your’s has.

  3. ms6282

    Lonely Lowgill! Beautiful area. I’ve never strayed over there myself. Need to correct that.Looks like you had a good day for your walk too.


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