Friday.  26th February.   4 miles.    Brockholes.

As I lay in the mud at the bottom of the bank, mopping the blood dripping down my forehead and checking my limbs for breakages, my thoughts drifted to casualty departments in the middle of the Covid crisis. Earlier in the day I’d been chatting to friends who were telling me that senior staff at Preston Hospital have stopped cycling whilst casualty is under pressure, they don’t want any broken bones. For the last week I’ve been looking up at Fairsnape Fell wondering about an ascent and then imagining a helicopter rescue and all the recriminations, so I’ve kept to the lanes for relative safety. Yet here I was lucky to get away with grazing and a blow to my ego. The brambles that had ensnared me were still wrapped around my legs. Being covered from head to foot in mud I drew surprised glances as I shuffled back to my car.

The rest of the gentle stroll in the sunshine had gone well. Brockholes is a nature reserve based on flooded gravel pits easily seen from the M6 coming south at J31. The Preston Guild Wheel cycling route goes through the middle of it so I’ve visited it many times but not in any depth. The only time I’ve called at the café/visitor centre was many years ago with Mel on one of his visits up north. My plan for today was to walk around the boundary of the reserve.

I had parked up near the crematorium in Grimsargh after one of those guilt laden 4 mile drives ‘staying local’.  The guild wheel route soon brought me down that steep bank into the reserve, here I turned left to reach the River Ribble thus avoiding the busy central areas. A good track followed the river all the way to the motorway bridge. Apart from the friends I unexpectedly met there were a couple of fishermen and only the occasional birdwatcher – you can tell them by the size of their telescopes. I wonder if there is some unwritten competition for the largest. I saw two Egrets by the river.

At the motorway I transferred to the gravel track bordering the west side of the lakes and was surprised as to how quickly I became almost immune to the traffic noise. There was one hide along here from where I saw ducks, grebes and swans – must get one of those big scopes, my equipment isn’t big enough. It was shortly afterwards I dived into the mud.

Just before going back up the steep hill I took a few minutes sat on a log, partly to clean my wounds and partly to watch the wild life feeding on crumbs left by a previous passer-by. Tits, a nuthatch and grey squirrels were my final tally for the day.

Think I’ll stay in the garden tomorrow.

Red Scar Woods high above the Ribble.






    You will be catching up with me if you’re not more careful. Sorry to hear about that really. I was out today on a local six miler from home. Walking on a tarmac road I had s bramble round my ankle and lurched forward into a run which thankfully just managed to stave off a more horizontal position on the ground but it was a close “run” thing.

  2. Michael Graeme

    An eventful outing, easily done. Brambles are a curse. I recommend alcohol for the wounds, taken internally.

    1. bowlandclimber

      As it happens these days I always have a small bottle of hand sanitiser [alcohol] in my pocket along with a mask. I was able to clean up my hand wounds without realising my face was blood streaked. I should have worn the mask walking back to the car to avoid frightening people.

  3. Eunice

    Sorry to hear you’ve been caught by brambles, i hope your wounds heal soon. I’ve noticed the motorway sign for Brockholes many times and thought about going there but haven’t managed it yet – the picture map makes it look intriguing so maybe later in the year I’ll take a look 🙂

    1. bowlandclimber

      I’m on the mend, thanks. To be honest I was more shaken than I realised. A days rest worked wonders.
      The reserve is a good place for wildlife or just for a walk around the area. Be warned it is expensive to park – £5 I think, so a lot of people park on the outskirts, as I did, and walk in for free.

      1. Eunice

        Thanks for that, £5 is expensive imo so I’ll have a look at Google maps before I go and figure out a place to park for free 🙂

  4. Clare Pooley

    I hope you are fully recovered by now; falling when we are young is painful enough but the shock and bruising when we are older can put us out of action for days. I speak from experience!
    My husband and I were clearing brambles from my mother’s garden last Saturday and I ended up with a badly scratched and bleeding face too.


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