Most people climb Nicky Nook, north of Garstang, for the view; Lancashire’s coastal plain, Morecambe Bay and the southern Lakes. I’ve been up it many times and that was my intention today, the sun was shining, and the weather set fair. On parking, I did a time check on St. Peter’s Church spire, 10.45. Yes, this is the familiar spire seen as you speed up the M6. Built in 1878 by the well known Lancaster architects Paley and Austin.
I’d walked a few hundred yards when it started to rain. I’m on the Wyre Way again. By then I was alongside the squat Wesleyan Methodist Church, built in 1843 when Methodism was strong in the area, there was no pub in the village. Here was a map of the three churches in Scorton – the next, the catholic St. Mary and St. James, 1861, was just up the lane. It seems half hidden behind the substantial priest’s house.
The three churches in order of appearance…
I’d become distracted by church history. Time to get going on my walk, another from Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Lancashire guide. Crossing the motorway, a couple asked me the way to Nicky Nook – I pointed them in the right direction even though that was not my route today, I was going round the back on quiet lanes. Conversation drifted to the weather, we are British, after all. She postulated that as we were close to Morecambe, the tide was probably coming in – hence the rain. I’m still pondering on that.
Going my own way, I passed by the Wyresdale Estate offering a café, wedding venue, fishing, woodworking, personal training and much more. I’m not totally comfortable with commercialism of the countryside. Brought up tramping freely on the moors, wild camping and nature watching, it doesn’t fit easily into my psyche. But judging by the number of SUV’s parked up, there is profit to be made through nature.
The rest of the morning passed as I used public ways around the back of Nicky Nook. But trouble was brewing when a large gate appeared across the track I was following, a way through was grudgingly available to the side. Timid walkers may have turned back at that point, which was probably the intention of the owners. This farm then took it upon themselves to divert the footpath away from their property, now a country residence. The sign said the right of way still existed through their yard, although that was contradicted by a sign saying guard dogs running loose. I felt pressurised to follow the diversion, which in fact turned out to be quite pleasant. But the point is that the landowners rather than pay for an official diversion, which they may not be granted, act in an almost threatening way. ‘We are rich, and we don’t want you on our land!’ I am concerned that Lancs County Council, funded by the public, are apparently complicit with this outdated view. An update to Mark’s guide is needed.
Rant over and I soon made good progress on my quiet way into the foothills, I still hadn’t met another walker. You are right on the edge of the Bleasdale Fells up here. I surprised myself at the speed I reached the trig point on Nicky Nook. It was here that I met with the steady stream of people walking up from Scorton, header photo. Additional adornments are starting to appear on trig points which affront my personal sensitivity. I would have removed them if I’d been alone, but it felt churlish to do so in the company of the other eager summiteers. There was little view, it was freezing, so I quickly turned around and set off down to Grizedale.
The artificial reservoir looked black and barren, but the valley lower down, with its sparkling beck and native trees, was a delight. I struck up to Higher Lane, popular with hired dog walkers, Slean End and through the fields to the road where I’d parked. Just then, the sun came out.
I had time for a good coffee from the Covid Citroën parked up in the village.
That’s a new one. Use the right of way if you must, but you may end up hospitalised by savage dogs. I’ve encountered a few of these unofficial diversions recently, very confusing when they don’t tally with the map. My blood boils in sympathy.
These deviant diversions don’t make it onto the definitive maps.
At least the diversion was signed. Yesterday I left the road onto a public footpath through a farm. There was no footpath sign from the road. The route through the farm was unsigned and was intricate, involving various gates and I only found my way because the farmer and his wife were about and half heartedly indicated the route. I suggested some signs and the farmer just shrugged as I set off on a descent to their adjacent static caravan site to wend my way round the back of caravans to find a hidden footbridge, again with no signs and all not possible to unravel even on the 1:25 map.
That sounds all too familiar, especially if outside National Parks or not on a ‘named’ way. As you know, I tend to report footpath problems in Lancashire, especially as they have a user-friendly website. When I’m out of my patch, it is more difficult.
I came across a diverted path when I went up Pendle Hill this week. It said the same as yours, that the “official” route can still be used but we would prefer it if you used the alternative instead of using the farmyard. I didn’t mind it as it wasn’t a threat.
Fine if well signed and purposeful. I don’t always want to walk through the farmyard.
We have camped at Scorton and walked up Nicky Nook. Also bought some Nicky Nook Blue Cheese. 🙂
A friendly little area.
I think we did some of this route with you, BC, in those distant days before lockdown!
Variations on a theme.