The gardening can wait. It’s hot and stuffy and my hay fever is irritating. Time to escape to higher ground not to far away. A quick lunch and I’m parked on Jeffrey Hill. It’s not rained for days and the ground is looking parched. What is usually a boggy path is now bone dry and trainers are all I need. There is a welcome breeze, and I’m soon ‘walking on sunshine’ with the familiar panoramic Bowland Fells stretching out above the vale of Chipping. Newly cut meadows adding to the patchwork. Yorkshire’s three peaks are in the far haze.
All very idyllic you will think, but I also choose to do a litter pick at the same time. I thought there was less rubbish than usual on the path to start with, but by the time I’d completed my 3-mile circuit my sac was full. Dog poo bags, tissues, empty water bottles, cans and strangely a pair of underpants. I declare the fell litter free – but for how long?
As an afterthought on the way home I called into our local bouldering Craig Y Longridge to check out any litter there. I’m pleased to say there were only a couple of bottles to remove and these had probably been thrown from the road above. Well done climbers for looking after their own environment. By now the crag was in the shade and I enjoyed a bit of exercise on some of the easier problems.
Mark Sutcliffe’s Chapter 4. Bowland Knotts and Cross of Greet.
Driving the lanes to Slaidburn once more and this time taking the continuation towards the Tatham Fells to park at the Cross of Greet Bridge, deep in Bowland. The last time I started a walk from here along the River Hodder, November 2020, the whole area was waterlogged and virtually impassable. I am hoping for better conditions today after a few dry days. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend, yet I’m the only car parked up by the river.
I skip across the marshy area and have no problem fording the stream this time. The walk-up to the isolated barn goes well. A barn owl is disturbed as I peep inside, it flies off, and the chicks go quiet. I don’t hang about. Outside was a rusting lime spreader manufactured locally in Clitheroe ? Vintage 1960.
The infant Hodder.
Kearsden Brook ford.
The Hodder gathering pace.
Abode of owls.
Atkinson Spreader, Clitheroe.
The way onto Pike Side is rather vague, and I end up following sheep tracks and even sheep. I realise that somewhere I have gone wrong arriving at an old lime kiln next to the wall, SD 725591. There are shake holes marked on the map, so there must be underlying limestone near about. With a bit of rough ground I regain the route by the gate, SD 723593. There are the ruins of an old barn here, and I follow the straight access track all the way to the road at Bowland Knotts, although at times it disappears underwater.
Limekiln SD 725591.
Gateway. SD 723593.
To the road at Bowland Knotts.
There are craggy outcrops either side of the road and some are suitable for bouldering. I find a seat not far off the road for lunch with Ingleborough in full view.
Roadside bouldering in Yorkshire.
Roadside bouldering in Lancashire.
Peggy and John Phillips seat.
Tracks follow the wall westwards towards a trig point, 430 m,the highest point of the Bowland Knotts also recorded as Crutchenber Fell, a ladder stile crosses to it. This is a rough tramp, but there are good, if hazy, vistas into Yorkshire, Stocks Reservoir, Pendle and the Bowland Hills.
Crossing to Crutchenber Fell.
Trig 430 m.
I stay on the south side of the wall for the undulating mile to the next feature, Cold Stone Crag. There is a path of sorts. There is climbing on this remote crag, but I doubt if many come this far, you might as well boulder back at the road. On one occasion I made the boggy walk in to photograph the crag for a new guidebook, only to arrive after the sun had moved round. The process was repeated the next day at an earlier hour. From up here the whole of the Pendleside panorama is visible.
Forever onwards alongside the wall and a gentle climb up to a height of 486 m, no cairn denotes the ‘summit’. The miles are long up here. An undecipherable boundary stone is encountered. The maps vary on the name of the hill – Great Harlow, Hailshowers Fell, Raven Castle or perhaps Catlow Fell.
Catlow or Hailshowers Fell.
Boundary Stone – Lancs/Yorks.
Ravens Castle stones?
A little farther and a fence line leads me down to the road at the Cross of Greet. By the cattle grid is a large stone with a shallow square hole in the top. It stands at the Lune/Ribble watershed. formally the Lancs/Yorks border and may have had in the past a stone cross inserted into it. Or was it a plague stone? nobody knows. I think it’s more likely to have been a cross at an important passage through these remote hills.
I chat to some cyclists riding the classic round from Slaidburn. Up to the Cross of Greet, over Tatham Fell past the Great Stone, maybe a brew at Bentham or Clapham and then back over Bowland Knotts, through Gisburn Forest to Slaidburn. I did it once with my mate Tone, never to be forgotten.
“Down the road for 800 m then follow one of the faint paths down to the stream” Well I’m not sure about the 800 m, and I don’t find any obvious paths. It will be even worse once the all encompassing bracken has grown. But I do find myself down at the Hodder, not the magnificent river it will later become, and hop over to the other side.
A slight climb and I am on the brink of an abandoned quarry. Stone from here was transported by rail to build the dam of Stocks Reservoir as the valley was slowly flooded in the 1930s for the Fylde Waterboard. Only the church was saved, stone by stone and rebuilt on higher ground. There is lots of archive material online. The quarry is atmospheric particularly with the surviving, but rusting dinosaur of a steam crane.
At the edge of the quarry is the base of the Far Costy Clough, a worthwhile scramble up onto White Fell I’m lead to believe. Yet another one to add to my list. Another day.
I’m content to just to follow the old rails out of the quarry back to the Cross of Greet Bridge. Another longish day out in Bowland.
After last week’s heroics in the high Bowland Fells today was a gentle rural walk. My son suggested a walk for his day off. Where? I asked. “What about Brock Bottoms, I’ve not been there for years” I’m writing it up as a 4-mile walk some of you may want to follow, a perfect evening stroll.
We used to take the boys along the Brock getting on for 50 years ago, so I’m pleased he still has it in his mind set. (I must have done something right in their upbringing) I remember paddling down the stream to the remains of the mill in the valley all those years ago, not for us the riverside path. I have written before on the history of the mill – Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers. The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!
What will we find today?
Along with my son Chris I’ve enlisted Mike for a short walk with promises of a curry afterwards. Surprisingly the picnic car park at Higher Brock Bridge itself is quiet. What a contrast from those Covid days when every space was taken by cars isolating from each other.
A few dog walkers are around but within 200 m of the car park we meet no one else. The water level is very low reflecting the recent dry spell. I seem to think the path has been ‘improved’ over the years. Lots of wild garlic, fading bluebells, stitchwort, red campions, hawthorn and other Spring blossoms deserve our attention. The valley is very steep sided along here.
We leave the main path to explore the ruins of Brock Mill. Until now, we have been walking along the line of the mill race or Leat. There is little left to see. Where were the associated cottages? Where was the main wheel? All is jungle with Himalayan Balsam taking over.
Rather than go back to the main path we struggle on a riverside trail, not recommended. Once out into the open meadows the going is easier and we soon reach the elegant Walmsley Bridge. For some reason the road is blocked and yet everything looks OK with the bridge. It was only when we walked up the lane did we find a landslide that had taken half the road down into the Brock. Could be a while before this lane is reopened, fortunately no premises have been cut off.
At the corner we take a farm lane I’ve never used before. The farm turns out to be massive agricultural sheds in the modern manner. A traditional cockerel guards the approach, but the path goes around the edge of the buildings with little fuss, no doubt an unofficial diversion but no problem. The farm house itself is named Throstle Nest with one of its barns converted to luxury living. The access lane soon has back on the minor road.
A bridleway could have taken us back down to Brock Bottom, but we stay on the quiet road for half a mile, passing some delightful Lancashire farmhouses. Another footpath I haven’t used before takes us straight through fields below Beacon Fell onto the lane which drops us back down to the picnic spot where we are the only car remaining.
A very pleasant 4 mile round through the Lancashire countryside.
The hastily put together curry supper was a success as well.
I’m running out of titles for my series of walks in Bowland as set out by Mark Sutcliffe in his Walking In Lancashire book. He has certainly covered the area well. Highest, Best of, Heart of, and today Remote or even the Remotest… How many of you have been to Wolfhole Crag or Whitendale Hanging Crags? This is a long post I’m afraid – it was a long day.
I enjoy the familiar drive into the hills with the roof down. Along the Hodder Valley; farmers busy silage cutting in the fields; over the Roman road with views to Ingleborough; down to picturesque Newton; along to stately Slaidburn and up Woodhouse Lane to my parking place just before the fell gate. I say my parking place as it was a regular spot when we were developing the bouldering potential of Croasdale’s Bullstones all those years ago. Not many drive up this far, but Mark mentions the single space, there is a little more back down the lane.
Newton on the Hodder.
The hike up the rough Hornby Road, a Roman Road again, (aka Salter Fell Track) has been done dozens of times and I pass familiar landmarks. The war memorial to airmen lost on these fells; the ancient sheep folds and bothy down in Croasdale where I have stayed with my grandson; the culvert where one can still see the Roman workmanship; the large quarry where the peregrines nest; the bridge where the road has been saved from sliding into the valley; the Tercet stone demarking the Lancashire Witches fateful route to the assizes in Lancaster; over to the right the bouldering playground of Bullstones and later the vague track dropping into upper wild Whitendale.
Along here somewhere I meet two RSPB workers checking on nesting Hen Harriers. It is good the birds have returned and let’s hope more survive the persecution by the shooting fraternity this year. No photos and as they say on the news “their anonymity and location have been protected” The road goes on over the watershed.
After four miles I leave the road for another four miles of mostly trackless and waterlogged ground. Mark says “the next stretch is very boggy and needs careful negotiation” Go no farther if you are unsure or if the weather is bad. This is remote country with no easy escape routes. My walking poles disappear into the mire quickly followed by my boots. Jack be nimble. It is not so bad – I survived. There is beauty there if you look closely.
If I close my eyes I could be at the seaside, the sound of gulls is everywhere. I think they are Herring Gulls, a large colony exists up here. I try for a video, more for the sounds than the fleeting fly overs. They are becoming more aggressive, dive-bombing me. I look down and there below my feet is a scrape of a nest with three eggs. Better move on taking extra care where I place my feet.
It doesn’t take much to persuade me to take the ‘optional’ diversion to Wolfhole Crag half a mile away. One wouldn’t come this far in good weather and not go to the highest point. There is a trig point, 527 m, and also an interesting collection of gritstone boulders. I can’t resist a few simple boulder problems, keep them simple as you don’t want to break an ankle up here. The longer routes look fearsome. Somewhere there is a shallow cave in the rocks – the original wolf hole.
A good place to eat my sandwich, wish that had been two as the day panned out. All around – The Lakes, Yorkshire Three Peaks and most of East Lancashire. Pendle is always visible. All a little hazy in today’s heat.
Walking back down the fence line, no navigation needed, is not easy because of more bogs. Maybe it is better on the other side, No it isn’t I tried. White Crag is nothing but a few boulders. Whitendale Hanging Stones are not much bigger. But according to “the gravitational method to establish Britain’s centre of gravity OS calculated that the geographical centre of the British Isles, including Islands, lies at SD 6419 5654“ virtually where I’m stood. I’m too weary to take it in. In fact as I drop down very steeply I’m just too pleased to see the small tarn on the col between Brennand and Whitendale. The walls and fences aren’t too easy to negotiate. I lose even more height as I descend to the Duchy farm at Whitendale where my route ahead climbs back up zigzags for 800ft onto Dunsop Fell.
Whitendale Hanging Stones, centre of Britain.
My way down.
Small mammal traps remind me I’m on shooting lands, the hunting class have some barbaric practices.
I collapse onto a wall at the farm, nobody is about, I’m even wondering if I should phone my son for a cop-out evacuation, but a drink and a banana fortify me for the final stage. Thankfully once back on a stony trail my steps become stronger, and I push on up. The trail disappears into peat, but there are some posts and cairns to guide me to Dunsop Head, a vague col with a wall, gate and another of those crafted signs. Looking at the map and the terrain I realise I’ve never been on Baston Fell to the north, today is not the time to visit. Let’s just get down.
My way back up.
Looking back down to Whitendale with Hanging Stones above somewhere.
Go east across more bog. By the time Stocks Reservoir comes into view you are almost home and dry, although your feet are probably wet by now. Eventually the bridleway becomes more visible as a sunken way and the airmen’s memorial appears. There is my car down the lane with Pendle still watching over us. Seven hours of remote walking, one to talk about in the pub later.
You may remember my March walk in the woods of Fulwood. That was an exploratory walk discovering many green spaces, several of them managed by the Woodland Trust. My comment at the time was “What must it be like when the bluebells are out and the trees showing much more greenery?”
Well now was the time to find out. I also wanted to create a more accessible route taking in the best woods and avoiding roads as much as possible and perhaps write a small definitive guide to the chosen route.
I was weary from climbing at Kemple End yesterday, so I only wanted a short walk. The sunny afternoon was ideal for this Fulwood circuit of about 7 K.
Since my visit in March the trees have certainly greened up and most are in full leaf giving dappled lighting. Oak, Sycamore, Beech, Chestnut, Birch, Ash and Wild and Bird Cherry were all present.
The bluebells were flowering in profusion, most were English Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, as opposed to the Spanish ones, Hyacinthoides hispanica, although some were possibly hybrids.
Here is what the NT has to say about bluebells –
It is fairly easy to tell the difference between English and Spanish bluebells, but the hybrids can be trickier as they take characteristics from both
Flower and stem. The individual bells of the native bluebell are narrow with straight sides and have petals which curl back at the edges. The stem is curved, with most of the bells hanging to one side. The bells of Spanish bluebells are more cone-shaped and their petals tend to flare rather than curl back. The stems are more upright, with bells hanging all round. Native bluebells are usually a deep blue-violet shade, while Spanish ones tend to be paler. Confusingly, both varieties can also come in white and pink.
Pollen colour. Look at the pollen inside the flower. If it’s creamy-white then the bluebell is probably native (or a hybrid). If the pollen is green or blue, it’s not native.
Scent. Native bluebells have a strong, sweet scent, which makes the woods smell amazing on a warm day. The Spanish variety has little to no scent.
Leaves. Native bluebells have relatively narrow leaves, around 1–1.5 cm wide. Spanish and hybrid bluebells tend to have much bigger leaves, around 3 cm wide.
Apart from the bluebells there were many other flowers showing themselves. I still haven’t found a decent identification app that works with my ageing phone.
Mason’s Wood is a wonderfully secluded valley, Wild Garlic pervading the air throughout.
I continued on the public footpath alongside Savick Brook to try and find a way back by Sandy Brook avoiding the busy Eastway. All routes were private and hidden behind locked gates. I tried my best and had to return to the path alongside Preston Golf Club, whose course was looking immaculate. I suppose we forget the importance of green spaes provided by golf courses in cities. Mark Twain famously said “Golf is a good walk spoilt” but now it looks like “a good ride spoilt”.
Crossing Eastway was braved, there is no obvious way without it, and I finished the walk along the delightful Sandy Brook back to Fulwood Row.
Lots of green spaces and I think I have my possible guide to them almost complete. I will post it here whenever.
We are back at our secret crag, the sun is shining and all’s well. The day passes, and four new climbs are accomplished. All on beautiful clean rock, each one a different style and difficulty. I can’t tell you more, but all will be revealed soon.
The hills were in low cloud late into the morning, including Hutton Roof which we explored a couple of days ago. But it didn’t matter – today was for cycling. I was hoping the lady would be in the Halton car park with her coffee wagon, but no sign of her. I hope she returns this summer, Last year I looked forward to her cheerful smile and cheep coffee as I drove up the motorway.
Think I’ll have an easy day and just go to Glasson Dock and back on the old railway. The fragrance of the hawthorn flowers hits me as I get out of the car. There are very few people about in the rather gloomy conditions. But the day brightens up by the time I reach Glasson. The usual collection of motorcycles and their ageing drivers around the fish and chip van. As always I choose to cross the bridge to the shop on the other side of the harbour. They normally have a good supply of freshly baked pasties and pies but alas today the van has broken down and none have arrived. I have to contend with a chocolate éclair which goes perfectly with my coffee.
There are usually some locals sitting outside and today was no exception. I catch up on the news.
The sunken boat that has been in the marina for years was lifted, but by some cowboys who kept lifting as it came out of the water rather than let it drain. Most of it then broke up under the force and went back down to the bottom in pieces.
The pub on the other side of the harbour, The Victoria, has been closed for years and is looking in a sad state, but there are plans to reopen it as a pub once more. We shall see. The locals don’t have a lot to say about The Dalton Arms tucked away around the corner.
Next to the shop The Smoke House people have built a retail outlet for their products but are having trouble installing the heavy-duty electricity need for the freezers. Once open I’m sure this will be a popular shop with the tourists who flock to Glasson in the summer.
I cannot vouch for the truth in these stories.
The new Smoke House shop.
The ride back is uneventful, it’s about a 20-mile round trip. The tide had come in whilst I’d been away. The Millennium Bridge over the Lune and Ashton Memorial were looking good in the afternoon sunshine.
I spend the rest of the afternoon drinking tea in the sunshine at Over Kellett with longstanding friends.
As I write this today, with the rain coming down, yesterday’s welcome sunshine seems a distant memory. After several Lancashire walks taken directly from a guide book it was time to visit a different area and plan a route for myself in hopefully contrasting scenery. It worked out better than expected.
We were up the motorway out of Lancashire and into Cumbria, but only just. Not the Lakes but a quiet corner hidden away in the extreme south of the county. In the past I travelled here often to climb and boulder on Hutton Roof crags, beautiful sculptured limestone in the exquisite landscape above Dalton. It was time for a revisit and going over the map the night before I came up with a circuit including the summit trig point which I had not knowingly visited before, my focus then being primarily on the climbing area. It’s complicated up here with several ‘rakes’ of rock running across the fell, presumably fault lines in the limestone, creating miniature walls of rock. Paths are everywhere, but don’t always go anywhere and once the bracken is up it’s like finding your way through a maze.
I phoned Mike at a respectful time in the morning to see if he fancied a walk, but he was due to visit family on this Coronation weekend. Maybe I should therefore go for a longer walk in Bowland? Before long however he phoned back to say he thought, taking advantage of the good weather, he would postpone family to another day. I outlined my planned walk with only vague ideas of how we would navigate across the limestone plateau. Sandwiches hurriedly made we set off.
It was almost noon when we parked up in Burton-in-Kendal, but this worked to our advantage as the misty morning had given way to bright sunshine and blue skies. The first pleasant surprise was the old bridleway, Slape Lane, leading out of the village. A Panoramic Viewpoint has been erected to honour Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the distant Lakeland Hills depicted were unfortunately hazy in reality. At least closer at hand Farleton Fell appeared prominent.
Between hedges and walls the bridleway snaked slowly up the open fell side, first through farmland and then into forestry. Our attention was taken with the spring flowers and the unidentified bird song in the trees.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust seem to have a hand in managing the woodlands and provide helpful information boards and permissive paths going who knows where. We stuck to the bridleway which came out onto a short stretch of road leading to a col where the Limestone Link footpath crosses Farleton Fell on its way from Kirkby Lonsdale to Arnside or vice versa. Nearby Newbiggin Crags look worthy of exploring.
Turning right we followed the footpath through coppiced woodlands and then onto more open limestone fell. Purple Orchids sporadically appeared giving a splash of colour. What a place for our lunch, looking out over fertile farmland and farther into Cumbria and the distant Howgill Fells.
I knew, or thought I did, my way to the climbing area, marked as The Rakes on the map. Soon we spotted climbers along the edge. Most were doing roped routes, and we stopped to watch for a while – what a perfect afternoon for them. Can you spot South America?
Now for the difficult bit. There was a path leading away from The Rakes which I thought might take us to the trig point, but it kept going down. Trying to make a straight line back up the hill was impossible across the shrub covered limestone blocks. Not wanting to break a leg we surrendered and back tracked on the path we had come in on. This brought us back to our lunch spot! I glossed over this by praising the weather and suggesting to Mike it was good training for him, he’s off to the Amalfi Coast in a couple of weeks. We struck off on a higher path heading in the right direction only to find it twisting and turning through the rocks. Forward visibility was obscured by the vegetation, one just had to keep going the most obvious way. Junctions caused some serious discussion, but we might as well just have tossed a coin. A runner appeared coming in our direction, on asking him if he had come from the trig point he looked baffled obviously not recognising the term. Onwards. A well-used path came up from the valley, so we joined it. A couple of dogs came past us followed by their owner who gave the impression of knowing the way but in fact this was her first time too. We followed the dogs and suddenly came out on to the more open top with the summit trig clearly visible.
A true 360 degree viewpoint, now with Ingleborough coming out of the cloud. The Bowland Hills were clearer than the Lakes. Morecambe Bay was a silver shimmer and one could see Blackpool Tower through binoculars if you wished. I don’t seem to have taken may picture at the top. It would be worth getting up here early one morning in the crisp air to make the most of the visibility. And what sunsets you could witness.
If we didn’t get a move on we might have been seeing one of those sunsets. But once into Dalton Hall’s woods the forest tracks lead us unerringly down to a lane through the few houses of Dalton and down eventually to Burton.
It was 6 o’clock back at the car – oh well I could forget about cutting the lawn.
What an exceptional walk this turned out to be. On reflection, I see on the map public footpaths from Dalton that would have taken us to Burton without the road walking, maybe next time as I’m sure there will be a next time.
Barlick, until local government reorganisation in 1974, was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It then found itself in Lancashire, the locals were not happy and many still see themselves as Yorkshire folk. Back in the day, until 1992, you had to be born in Yorkshire to play cricket for the county and I seem to remember special dispensations being given to players from Gisburn/Barnoldswick area when they were in Lancashire. Or was that just a rumour at the time. I do remember well however White Rose flags flying defiantly in Gisburn as you drove through.
None of this has any relevance to today’s walk except to point out we are in the far east of the county where Lancashire mills give way to Yorkshire dales. A 10-mile day of easy navigation, gentle gradients, canal towpaths, a Trig point and lots of fields. Stick with it – there is plenty of interest.
I approached the recommended Greenber Field car park down the narrowest of lanes, I was almost giving up when it suddenly appeared hidden in the trees. On my return I took a wider road, the B6252, back into Barnoldswick and I would recommend that as your approach. Unfortunately the café on site was closed due to staffing shortages, a common problem of hospitality in these strange times. That’s the second day in a row I have been deprived of my coffee. Still the day was promising with warm sunshine and blue skies.
I set off with enthusiasm along the canal towpath on the edge of town. Easy strolling with lots of friendly and well-behaved dog walkers, pram pushers and cyclists. I passed three of the prominent manufacturers in town – Rolls-Royce, Silent Night beds and Esse stoves. All but one of the many cotton mills have gone. The canal was busy with boaters. On my longer canal walks I often try to pick out the most humorous, or more likely corniest, boat name of the day, Mr. Grumpy won today. All making for an enjoyable start to my day’s walk.
In fact the morning was disappearing fast – made more so by an extended chat with an enthusiastic walker. We got onto the subject of the Lake District which he seems to have just discovered. Out came his phone with pictures of Coniston, Helvellyn and Scafell etc, many in selfie mode. I had to make my excuses to get under way again.
Once I had left the canal I saw virtually no one else for the rest of the day.
My way up onto White Moor was mainly on well surfaced bridleways, that PBW again. As height was gained the views opened up, with my recent ascents of Bouldsworth and Black Hambleton prominent to the south along with the rest of the Pennine Chain, and there was little Blacko Tower. Perhaps I was distracted, but I took to the moors sooner than I should have, up a well trodden track (SD 869 441). On past a plantation obvious on the map, that’s when I realised my mistake, but the track alongside a wall was good, so I just kept going until I was within a stone’s throw of the summit. Birds eye views of Barnoldswick appeared way down below.