Last year, when it was published, I ordered a copy of the new Cicerone guide book, Walking in Lancashire, by Mark Sutcliffe, I didn’t expect to find much new ground in its 40 walks that I hadn’t covered, but I thought it would be an incentive to get out in what still was some degree of Covid lockdown. Maybe one a week. Well, all that was scuppered by my plantar fasciitis, which virtually stopped me walking from August onwards. I would have been better with ‘Cycling in Lancashire’. Time has moved on, it is now March 2022, my heel is slowly improving, and I want to expand my walking distances and venues. I’ve been up and down Longridge Fell too many times.
The other day I picked up the Cicerone guide from my pile of ‘books to read’ and decided to start working my way through its offerings of day walks. A bit of a project, as my friend Sir Hugh would say. Opening the book, Walk 1 happened to cover Beacon Fell and the Brock valley, an area I know well, but it would provide a good introduction to the guide and Mark’s style of writing.
“Park at Brock Bottom. 5 miles with 800ft of ascent. 3hr.”
“This pretty route combines a riverside woodland walk through an intimate valley with a steady climb to the modest 266 m summit of Beacon Fell, which punches well above its weight when it comes to expansive views”
I wasn’t confident of those expansive views when I set off this morning in low cloud and moist air. The last two Covid years you wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere near Beacon Fell, but today only a couple of cars were in the Brock Mill picnic spot. In fact, I walked for 4 miles without seeing a soul. The riverside woodland walk was indeed a pretty route. The lively river Brock and the ancient mixed woodland was alive with birdsong. I reckon I can recognise most species on sight, but how I wished I could recognise their hidden songs.
Most of this walk I did in June 2021and knowing the terrain, I was tempted to go my own way, but a bit of discipline made me follow Mark’s route – his directions were spot on. This led me to use a footpath up Gill Barn Clough, never before used. If you look carefully you can see the remains of the barn still visible under the moss which cloaks everything in the valley.
I was soon climbing up onto Beacon Fell. No sooner than they had cleared the damage from the storms at the end of 2021, then along came more storms last month, bringing down more trees. The views from the trig point were, as expected, a little hazy, definitely punching below weight. I couldn’t resist a coffee at the café, one must support local businesses. A couple sat on the next table described how their Alsatian had been spooked out by the coin encrusted crocodile.
Down through the new plantations, one a remembrance wood, into the coppiced willows and back to the car park where D of E Award expeditions were resting up – red, blue and yellow groups. They had a wet camp last night, but I hoped tonight would be better for them. They were all in good cheer.
I’m glad I’m coming home to a hot bath and a comfortable bed. A good introduction to Cicerone’s Lancashire walks.