BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe bay and beyond, continued.

Crawling out from under my rock I wonder where a week has gone. It went in a haze of Covid fever, headache, cough and abdominal pains which laid me lower than expected. I could hardly read others posts never mind complete my own. I’m not at my best.

***

June 14th. 2022.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Parking up at Halton Station in preparation for a cycle ride around Morecambe Bay. Post coffee I’m off, so good to be out again feeling free as a bird. Into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and out to Morecambe. I take a bit of detour past the football ground to arrive at the coast in the West End near the site of a former pier. The view out over the bay is clear, but everything seems at a great distance. I soon pass the Midland Hotel, one day I will call in for tea, and continue up the promenade without stopping at the various attractions.

West End Sculpture.

I’ve been this way so many times before, I even know the way from the end of the prom to reach the Lancaster Canal. Normally I turn south here but today to vary my route I head north alongside the canal. This is a delightful stretch with the canal elevated above the surrounding countryside. Below are Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, and father out are the treacherous sands of the 2004 cockling disaster when 21 illegal Chinese immigrants lost their lives. We still don’t know how to manage the flow of immigrants into our country.

I have to be careful to leave the towpath at the correct spot, not signed, to pick up the 700 cycle route which could eventually take me, if I wished, all the way around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston and Walney Island, Barrow. Today I only went as far as the River Keer and its eponymous bridge. Whenever I’m here I can’t help thinking of The Bridge on the River Kwai and start whistling Colonel Bogey. Obviously the name of the bridge and its wooden structure set my mind into action. So much so that I paused my writing here a couple of hours ago to watch the 1957 film starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins on Vimeo. I had forgotten how good it was, building up the tension and reflecting on the British character and psychology in times of war. Directed by David Lean, arguably his best film was a few years later – Lawrence of Arabia. We will shortly come across his name once more. It is worth your time to watch again and revaluate    https://ok.ru/video/2090020047523

The Bridge on the River Keer.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Coming alongside the diminutive River Keer into the railway town of Carnforth. The railway station is on the main west coast line with branches to the Cumbrian Coast and inland to Skipton, a busy junction. Most of the main line expresses cruise through at speeds unimaginable at the time of the fictional ‘Milford Junction’ just pre-WWII. It was here that David Lean directed much of the romance of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Carnforth has capitalised on the ongoing success of the film and a Heritage Centre has been created on the platform – all things railway and cinema. Here I go again – diverted to watching a tormented Celia Johnson and a rather wooden Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter on the computer. I’m now an emotional mess, must have been  the Rachmaninoff. I’ll never finish this post.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Enjoying a cup of tea at the famous waiting room. I had time to drift back in time as the pot of tea took an age to arrive. On my way again I now followed the 90 (Lancashire Cycleway) up to sleepy Nether Kellet now high in this range of unnamed low hills.  Views back to the Bay with the Lakeland Hills behind and ahead over Lancaster and the Bowland Hills. Whizzing down I missed my turn and ended up alongside a military training centre above the Lune. All barbed wire, locked gates and grey paint. Halton village had some old properties previously related to a now demolished Halton Hall, worth a more detailed visit. Back over the Lune I was the last car in the car park and drove home tired but contented not knowing what was ahead.

More variations and suggestions on cycling Morecambe Bay, very satisfying.

***

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Further to some comments below on this post, here are a couple of phone photos taken by my son on the canal in Stretford. Bee Orchids.

***

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe Bay and beyond?

June 14th. 2022.

A couple of weeks go by with more minor injuries preventing walking far – so time to get back on the bike. The problem was where should I go – my easy routes are becoming repetitive. After a few days bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge I feel rather stiff and lethargic this morning. Before you ask, although walking is painful I am able to do low level bouldering as long as I don’t jump off or more likely fall off. Anyhow, I have survived and need a longer day’s exercise, the wind has dropped so out comes the cycle, or rather in goes the cycle, into the cavernous boot of my estate car. No need to dismantle anything which could later cause me problems of a mechanical nature. Every cycle ride I do my heart is in my mouth expecting some failure which my limited mechanical abilities could not solve, leading to a long walk. I’m surprised there isn’t a breakdown service available to cyclists.

I’ve spotted, on the cycling map, a Route 90 that will give me a circular ride after I’ve progressed up Morecambe Bay to Carnforth. As I said, feeling lethargic I didn’t get going until lunchtime but once more I’m in the parking at old Halton station. I grab a coffee from the convenient snack van ready for the off along the familiar lines through Lancaster to Morecambe…

***

I’ve not felt well for a couple of days, head cold, sore throat, chesty cough, dizziness,bowel and bladder irritation and as I commence to write up yesterday’s completed excursion here this morning I feel distinctly worse. Time for a Covid test.

I’m going to bed so will catch up with you later.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – To the points.

I’ve never been fully around Sunderland or Bazil Points so walk no 18 in Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Guide to Walking in Lancashire was an attractive proposition especially as it was flat as a pancake which suited my crumbling body.

I have a fear of rising tides, so the logistics for this walk were important. Tide timetables were consulted and double-checked, last Saturday looked good with a low tide at 9am. Unusually for me, I was parked up at Overton at 9am. Would my car disappear under the waves whilst I was out, I said I was nervous about the tides around Morecambe Bay. Remember the disaster in 2004 when at least 21 Chinese illegal immigrant labourers were drowned by an incoming tide whilst picking cockles off the Lancashire coast.

There was little sign of water as I walked across the causeway, just mud and marsh grass in all directions. The Sea Thrift gave the area a pink glow. A few cars passed heading to town. Soon I was at the few houses that call themselves Sunderland, once the major port for Lancaster and beyond. I wrote of the history of this place when I visited in October last year.

That time I was on my cycle so didn’t go right round the point itself. Today I continued past the last house onto the rocky shoreline and found a place to sit at the very end looking out over the Lune to Cockerham and distant Knott End. There was Plover Lighthouse seemingly on land today. As the tide was well out there were virtually no waders on the shore, just the odd shelduck, but curlews were calling in the fields behind me and goldfinches flitting through the gorse bushes. A local lady walked by and talked of the unique life here. I enjoyed the peace and the view knowing that when I turned the corner Heysham power stations would dominate the landscape.

Glaucium flavum only found on the coast.

I passed by Sambos Grave and the Camera Obscura, I couldn’t resist going inside for the upside down view. Cows were grazing on the marshes. A wild rose had the most delicate perfume.

Up at Potts’ Corner more people started to appear on the sands, presumably from the nearby caravan parks. Here I joined the zigzagging lane for half a mile before cutting across fields to use the sea wall leading back to Overton. The village is a cluster of cottages on an elevated site above the Lune. Some of the properties dating back to the C17th when it was a farming and fishing community.

I walked on to the church, one of the oldest in Lancashire. It was locked, so I couldn’t view the interior box pews and balcony. I found a seat near the Norman doorway and ate my sandwich looking over to Glasson. Then along came a gent in a tweed jacket, shorts and trilby, he cycled in to get some photos of the estuary as the tide comes in. Turns out we had mutual interests and spent a pleasant half hour chatting about this and that.

There was an old lane leading down to the shore from where at one time a ferry crossed to Glasson which looked very close. I walked around Bazil Point on the edge of the rocks, which would be difficult if the tide was in. Each gate on the way has a smart red sign. The point was as atmospheric as the one I’d walked this morning and as the tide raced in the surface of the water displayed a silver shimmering which I found mesmerising.

Ferry Cottage – considerably modernised. What a situation.

Looking back to Bazil Point.

At one stage I left the beach to walk in the fields, though I later found I needn’t have. The path left the field by a most unusual high stile down to the beach. By now I was surrounded by a herd of cows with a sturdy bull coming my way. I was glad of the escape route.

The bull is prowling at the top.

And then I was back at my car, still above the waters. What a magic area this is and well represented by Mark’s walk.

GREBE UPDATE.

Following my post about a week ago I have kept visiting the Upper Dilworth Reservoir in Longridge to check on the progress of our Great Crested Grebes and their two chicks. I am glad to report that the chicks are doing well and swimming independently of their mother, no longer hiding on her back. I was slightly concerned that there was no sign of the male today.

June 3rd. Happy family.

June 6th. Where’s dad?

Where did mum go?

FLAG WAVING IN BLACKPOOL.

 

 

I was confused by the rash of Bank Holidays and Jubilee Festivities and found myself in the midst of Blackpool’s celebrational party, and they know how to party here. The crowds were too thick to cycle through safely, I was returning from Lytham to Fleetwood on the promenade. This was my first time out on the bike since my collision here which resulted in torn knee ligaments. I was being extra careful. 

I had accomplished my mission to visit the Mussel Tank which I’ve passed so many times without realising it was there, thanks to Shazza for highlighting it. There is some purpose to blogging after all. The tanks, built in 1934, were used for cleaning the mussels harvested from the muddy Ribble Estuary. By the mid 1950s the beds closed down, mainly  because of changes in the Ribble channel affecting restocking. There were three tanks. A cleansing tank now the RNLI, a chlorination tank now the Ribble Cruising Club and the storage tank now the Mussel Tank which has been given a face lift as an open space for public enjoyment. There are interpretation plaques about the mussel trade, an art wall displaying ceramic tiles portraying local features produced by students at Lytham Sixth Form College. There’s also a large-scale mussel sculpture by a Martyn Bednarczuk which I thought resembled a smiling dolphin rather than a mussel.

 

One of the original tanks. Lytham St Annes Civic Society

I was glad to see that they had restored the sails on the iconic windmill.

Nearby was an installation by Tom Dagnall reflecting on the diversity of the SSSI Ribble Estuary.

It was time for an excellent coffee break in St. Annes.

There seemed to be an awful lot of people on the prom in the vicinity of the tower. I just assumed Jubilee celebrations but as I cycled on there were more and more camera clutching folk by the tram line.

I stopped to enquire and was informed of a parade of trams from the past. Nothing seemed to be happening, so I cycled on keeping to the higher way alongside the tramline. Eventually the parade arrived. A motley collection of Blackpool trams and an exquisite turn of the century Bolton tram. There was a lot of flag waving from the passengers, they must have thought me a misery. The photos may mean something to someone.

I made it back in one piece, quite pleased with the 30 odd miles I’d cycled.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 4.

*****

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

First stop on arriving in the immense baroque red sandstone Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was their café where we relaxed and enjoyed a light lunch whilst the organ concert was taking place above.

This place is like the British Museum, Science Museum,  the V and A, Natural History Museum and the Tate all rolled into one. It’s immense, one needs a battle plan to find a way around the multiple galleries on two floors. The entrance hall is large enough for concerts with the organ at the north end.

We were most interested in the art galleries in the east wings. We were straight into another Mackintosh exhibition. Lots of examples of his work and that of his collaborators. There was a partial reconstruction of a Glasgow Tearoom which he designed for Miss Cranston who owned several tearooms in the city. There was metalwork and glass from the same era. I was struck by the design of the leaded window as it was almost identical to those in my parent’s inter-war semi-detached.

The next gallery was devoted to an extensive collection of The Glasgow Boys. Encountered earlier in the University this group of local artists rebelled against Victorian sentimentality and revolutionised Scottish painting at the end of the C19th. Outdoor naturalistic painting of local scenes and people with strong brush strokes and later French-inspired techniques bordering on the abstract. 

Time for coffee and cake, 

Now on the first floor.  Scottish landscapes, French art, Scottish Colourists and Dutch art. Quite a variety.

Lavish Scottish landscapes.

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Large French display – mainly impressionists.

Renoir.

Monet.

Signac.

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The Scottish Colourists, a colourful modern French style for Scotland at the start of the C20th.

J D Ferguson.

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Classic Dutch paintings.

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And in a room of its own ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dalí. This iconic painting was purchased by the gallery in 1952 for £8200 and now estimated to be worth £50million. Dali said he had dreamed the scene of Christ looking down on a shoreline from the cross, no nails or blood.

We had only seen a fraction of the displays in the Museum. In the west wings were a multitude of history, science and nature which we didn’t explore.  There were some outstanding paintings on the landings surrounding the first floor and from up here one had a view into the two courts.

A bus back into town, a pint in the Counting House (Witherspoon’s superb use of an old bank) and back home to Preston in a few hours.  Glasgow is certainly worth a visit whatever your interests.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 3

*****

Mainly Mackintosh.

A taxi was used after breakfast to take us quickly up to the Hunterian Art Gallery in the University. The taxi fare of about £13 was almost as expensive as our train tickets from Preston to Glasgow, £15 for the two. From the outside the gallery was a big block of concrete, brutalistic Mike said. But inside is a hidden gem – The Mackintosh House.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a renowned architect, designer and artist creating modern Art Nouveau buildings with the interiors and furnishings complementing his minimalistic ideas. His wife Margaret was a talented artist/designer and collaborated on many of his works.

One of their projects was to transform the interior of the house they were living in from 1906 to 1914, 78 Southpark Avenue.  They had a vision for light clean lines, often taken from nature, and designed everything from the furniture to the curtains to create integrated spaces for living in. “the room as a work of art”  Subsequent owners kept the interior and eventually Glasgow University took it over in 1945. The furnitures were put in storage and when the house was demolished in the 1960s the interiors were preserved along with drawings and photographs of the house. By 1981 the interior of the house had been carefully replicated inside the university art gallery and the original furnishings installed. Carpets, curtains and soft furnishings were produced from drawings and photos.

So we found ourselves stepping into the Mackintosh’s entrance hall from over a century ago. The adjoining dining room was more of a sombre hue with distinctive Mackintosh chairs. On the next floor up elegant stairs was the L-shaped drawing room created from two rooms, As soon as you enter you are transfixed by the white decoration, flooded with light from windows which replicate the original house’s orientation. All was sublime. Delicate details from Margaret compliment the distinctive furniture of  Charles. Up a floor, and you were in the bedroom, again an L-shaped area. All white with furniture inspired by plant and bird forms.  Everything was exquisite.

For an in depth look this video is recommended.

The adjacent art gallery had more of Mackintosh’s work, complemented by his wife, and fellow artists and collaborators, the husband and wife James and Frances McNair. This included a reconstruction of one of Mackintosh’s last interior schemes from Derngate, Northampton, 1916, pictured in the heading photo.

Adjacent galleries highlighted the painter James A M Whistler. I don’t remember seeing any of his works before and was particularly impressed by his long portraits, delicate impressionism.  No sign of his mother.

The university gallery had several of the paintings of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists.

The ‘Boys’ – an informal group of 20 Glasgow artists that came together in the early 1880s – they challenged Victorian Scottish painting, and developed a distinctive style of naturalist painting. Outdoor painting of local scenes and people with strong brush strokes and later French-inspired techniques bordering on the abstract. Whistler’s work was an influence.

Hornel, Henry and Gauld.

The ‘Colourists’ – four painters – Francis Cadell (1883–1937), John Fergusson (1874–1961), George Hunter (1879–1931) and Samuel  Peploe (1831–1935).  They used vibrant primary colours and simplified avant-garde forms. I first became aware of them at an exhibition in Woking in 2019.

Still Life . Cadell.

There will be more of these Scottish painters in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum this afternoon. Time for a break.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW – Part 2.

*****

The Burrell Collection.

A good buffet breakfast set us up for a full day. The bus took us south of the Clyde  alighting at the entrance to Pollock Park. A pleasant walk through the grounds and we were  outside the Burrell Collection building, reopened in March after a major refurbishment. It originally opened in 1983 to house the vast collection of the Burrell family, gifted to Glasgow in 1944. Sir William Burrell, (1861–1958) a wealthy shipping merchant, devoted more than 75 years of his life to amassing one of the world’s greatest personal art collections, renowned for its quality of Chinese art, exquisite stained-glass and intricate tapestries, as well as its breadth of fine art. The galleries are built with a warm sandstone and lots of glass, situated in the middle of all the greenery of Pollock Park.

We were in for a bumper day. 9000 objects from 5000 years.

Burrell collected just about everything from all over the world and the first we noticed were the many medieval doorways from monasteries and country houses, they have been carefully incorporated into the building giving access between the galleries. The interior is a pleasing blend of stone, wooden beams and glass giving a beautiful light for the visitors.

In the covered courtyard is the Warwick Vase. It was found in the C18th in fragments in the villa of the Roman Emperor Hadrian outside Rome. It was restored and given to the Earl of Warwick. The Vase stood in the courtyard of Warwick Castle for almost two centuries until it was purchased for The Burrell Collection in 1979. A large marble sculpture in the form of a two-handled drinking cup, with motifs to the Roman God of wine Bacchus. So one of the star exhibits was not actually collected by the Burrells.

Off we went around the ground floor outer galleries with exhibits scattered throughout the rooms. Burrell started collecting Chinese antiques around 1910, Jades, porcelain and furniture from all dynasties. 

 

Egyptian artefacts were well represented, and I was particularly pleased to see the lion head of the goddess Sekhmet, 1390BC. My cat Seth is named after this goddess, the name change when the vet pointed out his sex. 

 

Suits of armour were everywhere,  I was amazed at their intricate artistry and the fact that somehow they had survived intact from the C16th.

 

.

The museum is home to more than 700 ecclesiastical stained-glass panels from across Europe, and the outer galleries are ideal for displaying them with natural light.

You will all recognise this bronze Rodin statue.

Time for a coffee from the pop-up café in the entrance.

Now we delved into the inner galleries where pictures were protected from the outside light. I thought that the fantastic collection of master painters, Degas, Rembrandt, Manet etc needed more space to show them at their best.

There was an informative section on carpets, mainly Islamic designs.   The  C17th  Garden Carpet from Iran was displayed with its animated video representation bringing  it to life, showing how far museums have become more interactive and accessible

Upstairs were several galleries delving into the secrets of creating the masterpieces. Printing, lace making, woodcarving, metalwork, glassblowing, bronze casting etc etc. We should have left more time for these fascinating insights, but we were coming to the end of our visit and a restorative tea and cake in their café was called for.

I think we missed far more than we saw, and a return visit would be warranted. Once outside we decided to have a walk around Pollock Country Park and see the house where the National Trust for Scotland was started. We did not know what to expect but were surprised at the Georgian grandeur of the house. It had closed for the day, so we only admired it from the courtyard which was full of colourful azaleas. Walking through the stables we found a path following the river, White Cart Water, and skirting the gardens, with a view of the house frontage. The gardens were resplendent with blooming rhododendrons. We wandered back past the estate sawmills, closed for refurbishment, a cricket pitch and Highland cattle in the fields.

 

Back in town we enjoyed a pint in one of the oldest inns in Glasgow. The Scotia Bar established 1792. A friendly place with a good selection of ales – we had the session Belhaven. All around were pictures of old Glasgow and you could imagine the sailors of the past from the nearby docks sipping their pints in here. The subsequent Turkish restaurant was unfortunately a let-down.

A good night’s sleep is needed before tomorrow’s excursions.

I BELONG TO GLASGOW. Part 1.

*****

The city.

As we sip our pints in the unique Counting House, a Wetherspoons pub created from an old bank in the centre of Glasgow, the words in the title come to me. If we had stayed too long in the friendly, but toxic atmosphere of this drinking emporium Glasgow would have belonged to me. Sensibly we cut the session short and went off in search of some food. We found the busy Madras Café and enjoyed some good Southern Indian food before returning to our hotel for the night.

Mike and I had travelled up from Preston to Central Station on the train this morning at a ridiculous £7.50 single fare. Our plan was to explore some highlights of central Glasgow and over the next couple of days visit the outstanding art galleries. Having an architect along would give extra value for me.

The ‘Merchant City’ area of Glasgow was developed from Medieval periods but came to the fore in the C19th when merchants’ money from shipping  (tobacco, sugar, tea  and slaves) created impressive Neoclassical buildings. Everywhere we looked were historic properties. Mike had a list. First up was the City Chambers (opened in 1888 by Queen Victoria) headquarters of various city councils over the years. All was marble, mosaics and mahogany. Unfortunately only the entrance chamber was accessible (post Covid regulations) giving some idea of the opulence.

On the outside wall of the Chambers were the official Imperial Linear Measures. Not normally of great moment but since our crazy government is thinking of resurrecting them in place of the Euro metric I thought a photo would be of historical interest. They may have an armed guard on them by now.

We were in George Square surrounded by imposing buildings and full of statues of notable Scots. Sir Walter Scott was 80ft up on his pedestal, towering over Robert Burns, James Watt, Victoria and Albert and several more.

As you can see we had a damp start to the afternoon. Our next objective, on the other side of the square, was the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) housed in a Merchant’s building, whose history was as interesting as the art. Built in 1778 as the town house of William Cunningham a wealthy Glasgow tobacco merchant who made his fortune through the triangular slave trade. It had been enlarged considerably over the period,  namely the Corinthian pillars to the Queen Street facade, the cupola above and the large hall to the rear of the old house. Outside is the most photographed statue in Glasgow – The Duke of Wellington resplendent with traffic cones, four today! The council have given up on removing them. 

The entrance opened out into a stunning oval stairwell illuminated from a distant skylight.

The art on show included black artists who have been in the minority in Scottish culture, yet their post-colonial legacy is important today. Tam Joseph’s Timespan was intended to be a representative leap forwards in racial equality and human rights.

On the next floor were recognisable modern paintings.

The top floor, Domestic Bliss, was less recognisable with contemporary installations.

Ready for a coffee and a sit down we headed downstairs to the café in the extensive library.  I recognised this from a previous visit, but I couldn’t think when!  They had just reopened after all the Covid restrictions that Scotland had imposed for longer than England. Good coffee and cakes.

Mike wanted to visit The Lighthouse,  the former offices of the Glasgow Herald newspaper. Completed in 1895, it was designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The first of his designs we visited on our trip. Yet again delayed post Covid problems meant we couldn’t access the higher floors and the famous spiral staircase leading to the viewing tower. 

Mike thought that the Cathedral, the oldest building in the city, C12th, would be a good place to visit, so we set off in the rain to walk up there. My camera didn’t like the moisture and refused to work, so I switched to my phone for the rest of the day.

The Cathedral was a massive Gothic structure – inside and out. Noticeably was a central pulpitum, a richly carved stone screen between choir and nave added in the early 1400s. The cathedral had survived the reformation intact.  Somewhere in the crypt was a shrine to St. Mungo, we missed it. Some lovely stained-glass.

We re-emerged just as the rain stopped and were attracted to the Necropolis on a hill behind the Cathedral. Reached by a bridge this large Victorian cemetery has 50,000 graves, many of them with ornate mausoleums. Wandering around was like something out of a horror film, I was expecting bodies to creep out of some of the shrines. From up here the copper roof of the cathedral was very obvious, copper having replaced the over heavy lead. It was worth coming up here.

A restorative coffee in a fish bar, and we were on a train to the western dock’s area. The last time I stayed in Glasgow was here next to the Armadillo and the Finnieston Crane. We had a walk on both sides of the river, BBC on the south bank, as crowds queued for a Russel Brand concert.

Then it was back to the centre for that drink and meal, quite a busy afternoon. 

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Lunesdale and Kirkby Lonsdale.

***

This is my latest route from Mark Sutcliffe’s guide to walks in the Red Rose county, although this one starts in Cumbria. Kirkby Lonsdale is a bustling market town in south Cumbria, My journey here had been slowed by several convoys of horse-drawn travellers probably heading to Appleby Horse Fair to be held next month. I park near the Devil’s Bridge where I know the parking is free, his suggestion of central parking is probably unwise.

The medieval Devil’s Bridge has three graceful, ribbed arches and is closed to traffic. I was in no hurry and in fact on arrival cross the bridge on foot to buy a coffee from the mobile stall, a favourite with motor cyclists, when at weekends up to a hundred may congregate here. It has also been the scene of youngsters ‘tombstoning’ into the river below, not to be advised. Chatting to a cyclist, of the bicycle genre, it transpires he has ridden from Preston in a time not that much more than double my car journey. The bridge has a legend relating to the devil, I liked this version…(ignore the plugs towards the end)

So it’s getting late when I start my walk downstream alongside the Lune. For two miles along this stretch all is peace and quiet, only a few dog walkers. The air is however full of rapidly flying Sand Martins, I’m almost mesmerised by their acrobatics. I suspect that this year’s juveniles are boosting the numbers. On the opposite side is a long low sandbank with obvious nesting holes visible. Ahead in the distance are the Bowland Hills, just visible in the rather cloudy sky. Behind are the Barbondale group of lower fells and there across to the east is the distinctive Ingleborough. Once he has attracted your attention you are hooked and spend the rest of the day taking more and more duplicate photographs. I make an effort today to avoid that trap, unsuccessful as you will see later.

Before long I’m heading away from the river on a flooded track up into the village of Whittington. Mark’s route takes a path parallel to the village road, but I am curious to see the old houses so take a slight diversion up the main street. I’m glad I did as there are some interesting properties many from the C17th, most of them listed.

Barn at Low Hall, late C18th…

…with pigeonholes and an owl opening.

Malt Kiln House.

The pub is closed.

The Old School. 1875.

Manor House.

The grand Whittingham Hall from 1831 is hidden down a private drive.

Eventually up the hill I reach the parish church of St. Michael with its early C16th tower. The rest having been largely rebuilt in 1875 by Paley and Austin, well known for their church architecture in Lancashire. Internally there is an elaborately carved chancel screen. The church is built on the motte of an earlier castle, where I sat in the sunshine enjoying a sandwich, The path I should have approached the church by was clear to see ahead of me. Whilst admiring the view I witnessed something I’d never seen before – an angry blackbird was chasing at low level a squirrel across the field. Presumably the squirrel had been attacking the bird’s nest.

Rest over I tackled the very steep lane heading north, it appeared to be a ‘green’ lane but was in fact a highway though I doubt few motorists would tackle it from the bottom. All was in fact very green and shady.

Once at the top I took diverted paths around Sellet Hall with views across to Barbondale and of course Ingleborough.

Sellet Hall. C17th much modified.

Down a meadow full of contented cows to Sellet Mill, a former water powered corn mill where the iron mill wheel has been preserved.

Sellet Mill. C19th much modified.

The continuing bridleway back up the hill was rather strange, behind the mill was the original millpond (now a leisure pond) and coming down into it a rocky stream. The bridle way took me straight up this stream, in parts the old cobbles were visible, but most will have been washed away. After heavy rain this way would be impossible.

At the top I came out into meadows above Kirkby Lonsdale with excellent views over the valleys and to, yes you’ve guessed it, Ingleborough. Again strangely the RofW went straight across the middle of a rugby pitch, what are your rights when there is game on?

Then it was through the middle of the Queen Elizabeth high school, I felt I was trespassing.

I found Kirkby over touristy. There are lots of interesting buildings and alleyways, but the town suffers from a traffic problem with cars everywhere, even though my photos seem to show an absence of them!. I was glad I’d parked out of town – be warned. The flags are out for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee later this week, in case you are from another planet.

I made my way towards St. Mary’s Church. The oldest parts of the church are Norman, doors and pillars, but the structure has had numerous alterations over the centuries. Inside there are three Isles and the nave, so the church appears grand. Some of the Norman pillars have incised decoration similar to Durham Cathedral. I missed a ‘green man’ carved on one of the C12th columns. There is a C13th piscina in another.

The graveyard is extensive with some impressive memorials and at one corner is an unusual octagonal stone gazebo from the late 18th century which was formerly in the vicarage garden.

I’d come over here to visit Ruskin’s View, a celebrated view of the Lune as it curves gracefully in the wide valley with the hills beyond. Turner had painted this scene in 1822 and Ruskin, art critic, painter and poet had this to say about it – “I do not know in all my country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine.” Kirkby Lonsdale’s tourist jewel was set forever. Unfortunately there has been a land slip below the path which has therefore been closed for safety reasons. There was no way round it, so I give you this picture from the tourist board.

Disappointed I descended the steep Radical Steps to the river. The steps were built in 1820 for Dr Francis Pearson, a political radical, to divert the existing public footpath from his garden – a radical step. A level walk along the riverside, popular with locals and tourists, lead back to the Devil’s Bridge.

In its six miles an excellent walk, one of the best I have done from the book so far

*****

NATURE NOTES.

*****

Every day I see a pair of Mallards sitting on my lawn. They were attracted no doubt by my small pond and the bird food I spread on the ground every morning. The fact that they are together suggests that the duck hasn’t laid any eggs yet, I cannot see any sign of a nest.

I made a rough home for a hedgehog out of reeds, twigs and leaves earlier in the year hoping to attract them into my garden. Yesterday at dusk a hedgehog wandered across the lawn. It is probably around when I’m in bed. Let’s hope for a family.  My photograph is not that good,I missed its snout.

The male pheasant who used to come for food has gone elsewhere. There is an abundance of blackbirds, robins, sparrows, starlings, great and blue tits all busy feeding their young scattered in hidden nests around the garden. A pair of magpies are no doubt doing damage to the smaller birds eggs.

These three were less welcome visitors.

Meanwhile, up on the Upper Dilworth Reservoir where I park to go bouldering in Craig Y Longridge there is quite a lot of activity. The Mallards had chicks a while back, not sure how many will survive.

The Canada Geese are showing off their youngsters.

The Tufted Ducks are just swimming around though they have nested on the island in previous years.

But the highlight of this week was watching the pair of Great Crested Grebes on the water. I have been keeping an eye on them for several weeks, I missed their mating dance. I saw them building a nest in the reeds, but the foliage growth had camouflaged it, so I didn’t know if she had laid any eggs.  I can see now that she has two chicks and is carrying them on her back whilst the male goes off diving for fish. They are quite a way out on the water, so my camera struggled to cope. The  two young are virtually invisible on her back from this distance, just a flash of white feathers, but when the male returns their heads pop up, and sometimes they take to the water. He feeds her small fish, and I’m sure he was also giving titbits to the young. What a privilege to be able to watch their family life.

While I’m bouldering in Craig Y I often hear a Wren’s alarm call, and today I saw her fly out from low down in the rock face. On investigating there was the domed mossy nest in a crack. I kept well away for the rest of my session.

Oh! And I thought my garden was looking very green. You can’t see the weeds.

PS. I called in to see some friends today after a walk, they have a rough patch of grass in front of their house, and it was full of orchids –  I’m not sure which variety, but I liked them.

NEW PATHS AT HURST GREEN.

I’ve probably walked out of Hurst Green dozens of times. The Tolkien Trail takes you along the River Ribble and going the other direction towards Longridge Fell you have the delightful Dean Brook and Stonyhurst College. Today I was walking with a group whom I first met at Haigh Hall a month ago – they always walk the last Wednesday in the month.

It was still raining when we met up at The Shireburn Arms at 10am. The forecast said it would stop at 12. I didn’t bring my camera partly because of the weather but also because in a group there are limited chances for photography. Of course, we all have our phones these days with functional built-in cameras. Anyhow, I didn’t expect to tread new territory.

As we walked up through the village and down into Dean Clough I contented myself with idle chatter. The interesting mill weirs and races in Dean Brook went unnoticed to most. The quarry, Sand Rock, where the building materials for many houses in Hurst Green originated passed us by. Greengore, a medieval hunting lodge of the Shireburns was duly admired. It is currently up for sale £1,250,000.

Onwards up the bridleway and I realise it has stopped raining which is a bonus for the assembled crowd, although it is very muddy underfoot. We are on the edge of woodland belonging to Stonyhurst College where they have their own private lake as a water supply and fishery. I have trespassed many times into those secret  lands where there is a hidden cross, Park Cross, with a history going back possibly to a Maria Shireburn, whose body may have been carried past here on the way to her burial at Mitton in 1754. It is one of nine  Stonyhurst crosses I incorporated into a walk from Hurst Green. I digress.

To my delight our leader takes us off on a bridleway through Hudd Lee Woods an area I had never knowingly trodden. The bluebells were over but the greens of the beeches and ferns were splendid, as a little sunlight filtered through. My spirits were lifted.

On down to the main road where we saw the remains of the C18th grade II listed Punch Bowl Inn. It is said to have been visited by the highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King in 1738. They stayed for three days after which Turpin travelled to York while King attacked travellers on the local roads. King was executed in 1741 and his ghost was reputed to haunt the pub. The pub had been closed for many years and the new owners tried to get planning permission for several schemes which were turned down so last year they demolished it without permission. An investigation followed, leading Ribble Valley Council to instruct the owners to rebuild it! I can see them appealing the decision and getting away with a slap on the wrist. We seem to have lost any sense of duty and honesty in this country as exemplified by the findings of the Sue Gray report published today on the goings-on of our ‘honourable’ Prime Minister.

Back onto the quieter Shire Lane with views over the Ribble Valley. Just when I thought we were cruising into Hurst Green we were taken through a farmyard and into fields trampled by a herd of frisky bullocks. While most of us tried to avoid the worst of their  excrement a brave member of the group held the beasts at bay with his walking poles.  “They weren’t here yesterday – honest” was the plea of our leader.

A bonus was one of those Peak & Northern Footpaths Society green signs erected in 2016.

A couple of awkward high stiles slowed the less agile of the party, but they were the only ones uncounted all day. Then we were heading downhill quickly and slipperily back to Dean Brook. At the bottom we found ourselves in the garden of a couple of stone built properties, one had been originally a bobbin mill supplying bobbins and shuttles to the Lancashire cotton mills  using power from a mill race taking water from Dean Brook. Again this is something I had missed in the past.

We had come full circle and retired to the excellent Shireburn Arms for lunch.

Greengore.

The Punch Bowl 2019

Now.

Heading down to the old bobbin mill.

That had been an excellent circuit and I regretted not bringing my camera.

.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Cockerham Coast and Canal.

The day was gloomy and so was I – perhaps I overdid the whisky last night. I was still mooching around the house late morning. But I keep trying to push my walking that bit farther. As you know I’m slowly working my way through Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone guide to Walking in Lancashire. In this I’m mirrored by Phreerunning Martin who always gets an interestingly different take from me, the pleasures of blogging. I needed something not too long and preferably as flat as possible. Walk 15 seemed perfect. I know the Glasson Dock area well and have done several variations of this walk before, probably most recently on my Lancashire Monastic Way. But looking at Mark’s  route I spotted some paths I had never walked. I might struggle to say something original about this walk.

I was a little embarrassed to leave my car in The Stork’s private car park, but the other space was taken by Travellers and their caravans. The channels of the Condor don’t look at their best during low tide. Following the old railway I came into Glasson, busy with people visiting an outdoor market. I couldn’t go past the little shop without buying a coffee, this time to drink as I climbed the minor hill to the viewpoint. The views were disappointing but the coffee good, sorry about the environment polluting cup.

I worked my way around the coast. The tide was out, so Plover lighthouse was accessible, it was previously maintained from the shore before becoming automatic. The incumbent keeper was based at Lighthouse Cottage where there was another light atop a wooden scaffold to line up ships coming into the tricky Lune channel. Across the channel I could see Sunderland Point at one time the major port on the Lune.