Thursday 19th November. 5 miles. Cross of Greet Bridge.
I remember walking The Hodder Way 15 years ago to check the route description for an upcoming guide. We started on the watershed high on that lonely road from Slaidburn to Bentham. Next to the road is the base of the medieval Cross of Greet. A large irregular block of sandstone with a flat top having a rectangular socket, once marking the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. This road is a favourite with cyclists continuing over Tatham Fell and perhaps making the return over Clapham Common and Bowland Knotts. This morning the whole area looked appealing in the sunshine.
From up here the Hodder starts its journey and snakes down the valley.
Back at the Cross of Greet Bridge I parked up, the Hodder is already in full flow. The bridge is strictly utilitarian. The path alongside the river was underwater, so I headed for higher ground. Rough going was to be expected, and the side streams became more and more difficult to cross. I had nagging doubts about whether it was wise to set off when there was so much water about. Everywhere was awash. I was pleased to arrive at the ford over Kearsden Beck dry footed, thanks to my new boots, but the water here was too deep and fast flowing, so I scouted upstream for another crossing finding one without too much difficulty and hopped across.
Now back on dry land I was climbing uphill above Catlow farm to a solitary barn on the skyline, seen in one of the photos above.
Bowland Knotts were beyond if I’d fancied an even rougher pathless walk, but I decided to traverse the hillside towards New House barn with Stocks Reservoir and Pendle ahead. I was now on the upper half of the Stocks Reservoir walk which I knew well. Up here above the Hodder I can see across the valley to Lamb Hill where I’m heading. Steeply down to the footbridge over the Hodder where I remember stepping stones, they would have been underwater today. The ruined farm of Collyholme is barely recognisable.
The steep pull-up to the road has been paved in places which was a help in these boggy conditions. I could have just walked back along the road, but there is a footpath marked going up to Lamb Hill farm which I followed. The farm has massive modern barns making the house virtually invisible.
Across the valley Bowland Knotts filled the scene. A footpath of sorts weaved through and on down the sodden fields. I came out onto the road just above the bridge but wanted to investigate some riverside sheep pens I’d noticed earlier. Climbing over a fence and going through dead bracken gave me a bird’s eye view of the extensive walled folds. These must have been used in the past when bringing the sheep off the fells and sorting them, I doubt they are in present use. The world has moved on even up here.
A short day but what a beautiful remote area.
I have driven that road. Such a beautifully bleak area. Sounds like a terrific walk and the reservoirs should be nice and full. Still haven’t walked much in Bowland. If things get back to normal next year I shall have to put that right.
Once you’ve settled into retirement there will be lots of places to catch up with.
I like that one. Good to see you “going high” (or highish) – back to the hills? At first I thought you were on a mission to find the source of the Hodder – that’s a possible project for a bit more of the rough stuff?
I’ve been to the source, or at least one of the possibilities, when we were researching The Hodder Way.
The sunlight was rich on Thursday, there was a bloke out early with large format cameras taking pictures up the valley. I couldn’t park near to get to talk to him.