My usual ploy of a leisurely start to the day, drinking coffee, catching up with the news and maybe a crossword or two seemed to be sensible as the rain hammered down. Another coffee whilst I scanned the Cicerone Lancashire Guide for an accessible walk more testing than the Blacko one a couple of days ago, delightful though that was. (Today’s turned out to be a tough test of eight difficult miles)
This post became rather long and rambling, I can only apologise now.
I was soon driving out to Grindleton in the Ribble Valley. Several flooded roads did not bode well, perhaps I should have brought Wellingtons. But the forecast was for improvement, and I’ll go with that. The route in question , Walk 20, included an ascent of Easington Fell. I’ve been up there many times. A good friend used to live in Grindleton, and we often did circuits above the village. The last time I was up there was in lockdown 2020 when I approached from the north out of Harrop Fold. The day did not go well, and I was lost for some time (more than I would like to admit) in mist on the fell. I did not want a repeat of that fiasco.
I parked in Grindleton which looked rather sad with both of its pubs closed. They were working on one, formerly the Buck Inn, but progress is slow. The Duke of York sits forlornly on the opposite corner.
I walk through some lovely woodlands and above the old Greendale Mill originally powered by the lively valley stream.
I found this on the internet, TCW.
In the 1850s and 60s a quarter of the adults in the village were hand loom weavers of cotton, but industrial mills were being developed apace and depriving the domestic workers of their livelihood. It would have been seen as a benefit to Grindleton when a mill was built there, providing jobs without the workers having to make arduous journeys further afield, perhaps to Preston or Blackburn. Greendale Mill was built in about 1868 by the Grindleton Industrial Association Ltd with space for 180 looms. It straddled a brook and was driven by a water turbine and a 15hp steam engine, which was powered by a huge coal-fired boiler 7ft in diameter and 25ft high. By 1871 the mill had been leased to a tenant, Timothy Marsden. He employed about 50 people and had 100 looms.
At about 12.50pm on Tuesday, September 26, Marsden was seen stoking the furnace to get the boiler steam pressure up. Two or three minutes later there was a shattering explosion. Shocked mill workers rushed out and saw the boiler house had been blown to bits. Masonry and roof slates lay everywhere, covering the surrounding fields up to 200 yards away. A pall of steam hung over the mill and the surrounding area, and there was a deathly silence.
Three or four men entered the boiler house and found the boiler had been torn from its brick setting and thrown across the room, its metal plates ripped apart, and the rivets sheared through. Timothy Marsden was lying on the floor, an oil can in his hand, gasping for air and making rasping sounds. He was severely scalded on his back, arms and legs, and he had a deep gash on his head.
The workers carried him into the cotton warehouse and a doctor arrived. Slipping in and out of consciousness and deeply shocked, Marsden asked what had happened and when told he said, ‘Poor me! What shall I do?’ With some difficulty his clothes were cut off. He asked to be taken to his home in Darwen, about 20 miles away, so he was carefully wrapped in blankets and loaded on to a horse-drawn cart for the journey. The doctor tended to the terrible scalds and the head wound for the rest of the week, but Marsden contracted lockjaw and died on the Sunday night, five days after the accident.
An inquiry was held at the Duke of York Inn, a few hundred yards from the mill, on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 14, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
Damage to the building cost £500 (about £60,000 now) to repair, and the mill was not fully operational until early the next year. Cotton manufacturing continued until 1930. After that, felt was made for hats, and then engineering components. In 1960 the site was acquired by a haulage firm. It is now a storage facility.
The area round the mill, about 20 acres, is now owned by the Woodland Trust which planted it with broadleaf trees in 2000 to commemorate the Millennium. There are a number of damson trees to reflect the fact that Grindleton was once home to a jam factory.
I thought that was worth the read.
Now on Green Lane leading up the fell. At one time this was a pebble stoned way. Bits of tarmac keep appearing to give access to the scattered houses.
I remember White Hall from some previous visit. Its price is now £2 million.
Upwards and onwards I pass the extensive grounds and properties of Cob House. One of the grandest overlooking the Ribble Valley and no doubt valued at more than £2 million. I often muse as to who lives in these mansions, local businessman come good or a crook doing bad.
A little farther up a Bridleway slopes off to the left into a valley with the isolated Simpshey Hill straight ahead. My memory clicks back to 1989 when I was introducing one of my son’s to off-road ‘cycle packing’, the other son has more sense. We camped down by the little stream and were surprised if not scared by a large black mink approaching us as we cooked our beans. We didn’t sleep easy. That was the time when animal rights activists were releasing the animals from the mink farms, much to the detriment of the local otter population.
I worked my way around Simpshey and then Easington Fell with its forest appeared, it looked a long way. In fact, I ended up walking continuously uphill for nearly 4 miles and was glad of a sit down on an old wall for a bite to eat. From up here Pendle was prominent on the horizon, as always, and swinging round the Bowland Fell were all a bit hazy in the moist atmosphere.
I knew that the next section around the north side of the forest would be hard going. I aim for a pile of stones, marked as ‘The Wife’ on some maps.
From there is rough ground, climbing the ‘rusty gate’ mentioned in Mark’s guide, up to another pile of stones marking the summit of Easington Fell, 396 m. (Header photo) The good views into Yorkshire and the Three Peaks were obscured, but I could see my way along the plantation edge. What is not readily apparent is the condition of the ground, it deteriorates into a reedy boggy nightmare where I was concerned I would sink without trace. By now the wetness had spread up to my waist, and I was tiring in the heavy going. I was looking for a way through the forest and was concerned it maybe blocked by all the storm damage from last winter. The easy option would have been to continue outside the trees on an undulating course to Beacon Hill, but I was keen to follow the guide. An indistinct post showed the way into a fire break which thankfully was clear of fallen trees.
At its end I joined the Shivering Ginnel, an ancient walled route through these hills. ‘Shivering’ because it was so often a cold north-easterly wind that blew through here.
It was a relief to break out onto the open moor at Beacon Hill. The ground around the summit seems to have been disturbed, mining activity or a more ancient burial ground? Does anybody know? Pendle has to appear in the background of the Summit photo. The River Ribble is somewhere down below.
I’m soon off the fell and on a lane past Scriddles Farm. Don’t know the derivation, but we have had some lovely S’s today – Simpshey, Shivering and Scriddles.
Across a stile is a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ with a great view and the obligatory ostentatious hot tub – but who uses these bacterial baths especially with a public footpath coming through.
The next mile or so was not the best, unmarked paths and crumbling stiles. To make matters worse the afternoon light was rapidly deteriorating. I followed this way in reverse a while back with Sir Hugh and The Rockman, we struggled then but the intervening years have not been kind to all those stiles. Most were difficult and a couple downright dangerous. The guide underplays this section, some acrobatic agility is needed together with the more detailed 1:25000 map, I resorted to phone navigating technology and the landowners could be more helpful.
I was glad to reach the ancient sunken track leading straight back to Grindleton.
There is a choice of ways through the village – the Main Street with some impressive houses. or the back ally with its cottages. Little ginnels run between the two, and I notice there is a marked trail around the village.
A pleasant place to live apart from those two derelict pubs.