Category Archives: Beacon Fell

BEACON FELL CIRCUIT.

It was one of those out of body experiences – I was 11years and cycling as fast as I could around the Teesdale lanes getting strong for some time trialing; then I was in my teens touring various parts of Britain with my mates; now I’m 30 and exploring the Trough of Bowland and further afield doing 100 mile days; next I’m 50 and cycling across Europe on endless adventures. Now I’m off my bike and having to walk up a steepish hill onto Beacon Fell. Bugger.

Today’s circuit from home is about the same distance as the Preston Guild Wheel which I’ve been using recently but with HILLS – over a 1000ft of ascent. Your are on your own here.Still the roads are quiet, the sun is shining and I’m wrapped up against the freezing temperatures.

Beacon Fell is a local landmark and popular with strollers and families. It is one of my regular haunts usually walking as previous posts detail. I had forgotten how impregnable it was on a bike. Still the cafe is open all year. Despite the icy roads it was mainly fast downhill from here on the long way round to Chipping under the Fairsnape Fells. There were a few more hills I’d forgotten about!

and then I’m sprinting to the finish on the Champs-Élysées.

***

As an aside I passed several laneside garages long since abandoned, they were a feature of the countryside 50 years ago. They were never open when you needed petrol  on a Sunday afternoon but their skilled mechanics kept the locals cars and tractors on the road. No plug in diagnostics in those days.

 

 

 

 

BEACON FELL – WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES.

Had an old mate up from Surrey staying with me last week. For a quick fix of fresh Northern air I took him walking up at Beacon Fell in the afternoon almost as soon as he had arrived. We did the usual circuit of tracks, visiting most of the onsite sculptures and the summit trig point for restricted views. There was something strange though – we never saw another person. Now that for Beacon Fell is very spooky, there is always, no matter the weather, somebody often with a dog using the paths. OK the cafe had been closed half an hour and it was a dull day but that wouldn’t normally matter. Not a single car in the car park or on the orbital road. I have never seen the place so deserted. Spooky indeed.

A few days later I repeated the exercise with family and grandchildren on a sunny Sunday afternoon. What a contrast, there were people and dogs everywhere. The car parks were packed and a queue was forming at the cafe for ice cream and teas. It was good to see so many people getting some exercise but there was an atmosphere of Blackpool about the place.

Everyone to their own choice but I know why I prefer the quieter times.

Another surprise was the change in the crocodile carving since I last visited, people have started to hammer in coins and I didn’t feel this was overly detrimental. The sculptor may disagree.

Then [2014]

and now.

 

BEAUTY – IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.

One of my posts in  November introduced the Landmark art now installed in Bowland to celebrate 50years of it being An Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/a-new-kid-on-the-block/

That dealt with the sculpture on Jeffrey Hill and I mentioned three others. Today I went in search of the one on Beacon Fell. The day was mixed with wind and showers but I felt I needed the exercise so I contrived a walk in the Beacon Fell area. Having parked up I took to the field paths to the north of the fell, not realising how much rain we had last night and how badly drained they were. Was glad to eventually climb the hill into the forest close to the Information Centre, a few brave souls were sat at the outside tables supping tea in the hail showers.

From near here I picked up the trail marked with inscribed stones leading to the installation – Beauty by Geraldine Pilgrim.  The information panel explained…In the trees was a fragile looking glass box which on closer inspection revealed internal mirrors reflecting the forest. I wanted to look through it but had to be content with mirror images of myself as well as the trees. The piece seemed to work better from a distance [as in the first photo above] when the beauty of the forest was somewhat encapsulated in the cube, in the eye of the beholder.

Onwards over the fell and I came across a sculpture I had missed previously – the living deer.I hope that has completed my Beacon Fell sculpture collection.

Through the wintry showers Parlick looked imperious to the north….…. whilst far to the south the Preston skyline looked futuristic.All very beautiful in the eye of the beholder.

BEACON FELL BIVI.

  BEACON FELL WITH THE BOWLAND HILLS BEHIND.

After my last post about rain the summer-like weather has been around for a few days and I was tempted out bouldering one afternoon which left me with an extremely sore left big toe. So back on my cycle for a few short rides but I felt the need to get into the hills. Was tied up most of Saturday until tea time, but then a quickly packed sac with basic bivi equipment saw me strolling out of Longridge at 6pm.

I planned to follow the first stage of my Longridge Skyline Walk [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/longridge-skyline-walk/] and spend the night somewhere on Beacon Fell. What a beautiful warm evening as I walked through fields with lapwings tumbling overhead. The May blossom in the hedgerow was at it’s best.

Cattle were out enjoying the rich grass and were being a general inquisitive nuisance, charging about, one just has to be aware of any possible danger. The sheep and playful lambs were easier to share a field with.

Onwards through Goosnargh Golf Club with the fairways in prime condition. Further on the building work on the old Cross Keys Inn seems to have come to  a standstill. inside is a surreal builders’ dining table. Made me think ‘Hotel California’ somehow!

More troublesome cattle accompanied me up the fields into the woods of Beacon Fell. A few families were about in the car park but the cafe was closed. I had planned to arrive at the summit for sunset but cloud spoiled the scene.

A new owl sculpture has been installed in place of the ‘hanging bat’ and I stumbled upon  a wooden carving of a crocodile to complete my collection of Beacon Fell sculptures.         [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/beacon-fell-views-and-sculptures/ ]

As dusk fell I found myself a comfy bivi spot with views of the Bowland Fells.

Roe deer were wandering about and barked noisily for a while, obviously I was on their territory. Sitting there I was treated to a spectacular low flight of a Barn Owl looking for prey – spellbinding. And then the bats started there rapid flypast.    Sweet dreams.  I awoke at 5am as the sun came up but managed to doze off till 6.30, so I was away to a leisurely start by 7am.

My plan was to walk down the valley of the River Brock for a few miles. Bluebells and wild garlic abounded  in the shade.

 

I was impressed by the depth that the small river has carved for itself over the centuries. This is Dipper and Wagtail territory. The path was in a poor state boggy an eroded so progress was slow. Nothing much else stirred until I came across the tents of D of E teenagers near Waddecar Scout Camp, they were just stirring!

Soon I was at Brock Bottoms where a few early dog walkers were out. This area has been tarted up with graveled paths etc. I just remember days with my kids hopping down the river and exploring the ruins of one of the many water mills. Now the ruins seem smaller with no sign of the wheel or any millstones.

Once out of the valley at Walmsley Bridge I followed field paths to emerge at the delightful thatched, old farmhouse of Scotch Green, I do wonder about the derivation of these names but there was nobody about to ask.

A rest stop at the village cross of Inglewhite was prolonged by a chance meeting of an old friend out walking her dog. The  pub was closed for restoration, hopefully it will still have a bar for the locals who would keep it alive. The local chapel seemed to have a sizable congregation. On a wall was one of the old AA information plates – remember these.

Onwards down an old bridleway and ford, now bridged for safety reasons, into Goosnargh and back home for lunch! 

That’s how I recharge my batteries and connect with the land in this beautiful area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK.

Today was cold but sunny so there was no excuse not to get out in the countryside. All the snow from last weekend had disappeared, though this morning’s frost had firmed up the fields.

There have been some recent footpath diversions north of Longridge and these were affecting a route of mine, The Longridge Skyline Walk. I therefore took the opportunity to walk some of these paths to update my route description.

Parlick with Fairsnape brooding in the background.
      Parlick with Fairsnape brooding in the background.
Having brought my route description up to date I felt it was time to re-publicise this excellent route. I would love to see one of you keen fell walkers complete the circuit in a day! Here is my original, rather lengthy article………
                             LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK.
 Standing anywhere in the Loud Valley [The Vale of Chipping] north of Longridge one is aware of the beautiful surrounding scenery. Out to the west is space towards the coast but the remaining skyline consists of hills. Starting in the northwest is the well known Beacon Fell, and going clockwise around the horizon are Parlick, Fairsnape, Totridge, Birkett, Waddington and Longridge Fells. You will notice that these hills are all named using the northern word Fell, it is an interesting fact that Longridge Fell is the most southerly named fell in Britain.
Skyline and horseshoe walks have a fascination and draw for fell walkers, think of the many well known examples in our mountainous regions. They are usually fairly obvious in conception and provide a ready made visual and physical challenge. So it was for me, for many years living within sight of this round, and I have taken up its challenge on several occasions in the past, from the 70’s onwards. I soon realised the beauty, variety, relative isolation and rewarding views this walk provides.
However there was always a problem with my rounds, I was often trespassing!  Large tracts of the moorland areas in the east were private, often with shooting interests, with limited rights of way. So the walk was for private consumption only, but always very satisfying allowing one  knowledge of these ’hidden secrets’ of our northern hills.
However times change and with the implementation of the CRoW act nearly all the walk was either on Public Rights of Way or the newly created Access Areas. With the publication of O.S.maps showing the newly opened areas I was able to revisit more freely some areas of the walk and realised that a challenging circuit was now more feasible in design and description, if still no easier in physical execution.
Thus the 60Km / 37.5miles Longridge Skyline Walk  [LSW] was reborn.
Much of the Forest of Bowland is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and rightly so. Hence many areas are well known to walkers and country lovers alike, but you will find following this round many new corners to be enthralled by and whole areas of rough fell rarely walked in the last few decades. When were you last on Kitcham Hill or Waddington Fell?
Bowland’s diverse landscape – heather moorland, blanket bogs, wooded valleys and lowland farms – make not only for interesting walking but also provide a rich habitat for flora and fauna. The area is nationally renowned for its upland birds, so providing one with an opportunity of sighting many species on the walk. Red Grouse, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Short Eared Owl, Ring Ouzel, Redshank, Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrel and the Hen Harrier. The latter has become the symbol of The Forest of Bowland. Take a small pair of binoculars.
By the nature of the ground to be covered, this walk should not be undertaken lightly, access land in the AONB offers some of the roughest and most remote walking in Lancashire. A sound experience of rough fell walking and the relevant navigational  skills are needed. Several miles are trackless and heavy going in the peat bogs. These areas are particularly difficult in the wetter months and are possibly best avoided at those times, not only for your progress but to lessen damage to the fragile terrain. Clear weather is a must really to help with navigation and to enable you to fully enjoy the outstanding views that the walk provides. The access areas may have seasonal restrictions which will be posted locally or found in advance from the usual sources. [Try Lancashire County Council] It would not be possible to take dogs on the whole route.
If the walk is started in Longridge the village of Dunsop Bridge makes a good halfway stopover if split into two days. There are limited bus services in the rural areas but Dunsop  Bridge is serviced from Clitheroe. Other smaller stages  over three or four days can be planned with the limited B&B accommodation in the area.  Completing the walk within a day would be a severe challenge for the fittest of walkers and maybe not the best way to appreciate the scenery. There are a few refreshment stops notably Beacon Fell Visitor Centre, Dunsop Bridge Café/PO, Bashall Barn and of course Longridge itself.
LSW map
Longridge — Beacon Fell.  10km / 6m
Starting from the Millennium Cross in Longridge one is soon out into the countryside with early views of the skyline task ahead. After a short stretch of road walking the route goes onto a series of pleasant paths through farming land, both arable and stock. The agricultural changes in recent years are evident with the loss of hedges, expensive barn conversions, diversification with fishing lakes and a new golf course. As the ground rises to Beacon Fell views open up across the Fylde. Beacon Fell was opened in 1970 as one of Lancashire’s first Country Parks and has proved very popular with its easy access and good tracks suitable for all. The information centre is worth a visit as you pass on the way to the summit [266m] with its viewfinder. This summit is the first of the day and hopefully the weather will be clear for the extensive views.
Beacon Fell — Fairsnape Fell.  7km / 4.5m
Northwards the land now begins to change to rougher pastures approaching the higher fells, again the paths are clear and fairly well used. A wonderful area in spring for the sound and sight of Lapwings. Soon the bulk of Parlick is in front of you, but a winding old peat-sledge track takes you up the quieter side of the fell. The area is popular for gliding, parapenting and model planes so there is usually something in the sky to keep you distracted on the climb. Once at the top the fells stretch out before you and a good walking surface, enjoy it while you can, enables an easy section up to Fairsnape Fell with its shelters and trig point [510m] although the true summit [520m] is further on to the northeast.
Fairsnape Fell — Dunsop Bridge.  10.5km / 6.5m
The enjoyment of the next couple of hours along the ridge to Totridge Fell [496m] will depend on recent rainfall. Although there is a fence to guide you most of the way do not underestimate the difficulty underfoot and detours around the worst peat bogs are unavoidable. On a day of good visibility this is an exhilarating stretch with views to the Lakeland Hills, the vast uninhabited area of desolate fells to the north, the Three Peaks area, Pendle and the Lancastrian Fells to the south. The last legs of this walk over Waddington and Longridge Fells become clear. At the end of the ridge the beauty of the Hodder below you can be appreciated before the steep descent into the valley. The Trough of Bowland road can be busy at weekends but fields lead past a pheasant breeding farm to follow the River Dunsop into the village by its bridge. This a popular destination and after the solitude of the fells the number of trippers can come as quite a surprise, but the ice cream is great!
Don’t forget to look at the unique telephone box celebrating being at the centre of Great Britain.
Dunsop Bridge — Waddington Fell.  9.5km / 6m
This section of the walk covers new ground for most people and being trackless in parts will feel longer than the map suggests. It starts pleasantly along by the idyllic Hodder and then climbs to the exquisite wind blown, untrodden and heather clad top of Kitcham Hill [283m] From here rough moors are crossed to emerge through trees at the historic farm of Crimpton [Our Lady of the Fells] More rough trackless ground is crossed over Marl Hill [311m] heading for the mast [if you can see it!] on Waddington Fell. At one point navigation is helped by an old ditch once serving as a deer boundary for the important Browsholme Estate. Reaching the summit of Waddington Fell [395m] is a relief and most of the harder work is behind you. Once again you have stunning views from an unusual angle particularly good westwards down the length of the valley you have navigating round.
Waddington Fell — Higher Hodder Bridge.  9.5km / 6m
Downhill all the way! From the trig point you follow the obvious ridge southwards by the wall and continue down the mapped access area until it stops 0.5km short of the next Public Right of Way. Having overcome this problem field paths lead to the delightful Talbot Bridge, on past an old packhorse bridge and close to the old Bashall Hall. Soon you will be enjoying refreshments in Bashall Barn, the type of farm diversity I appreciate. More field paths bring you to The Higher Hodder Bridge.
Higher Hodder Bridge — Longridge Fell.  5.5km / 3.5m
A short stretch by the River Hodder and then you climb up to Kemple End a well known viewpoint over the Ribble Valley and Pendle. Now for a contrast you enter the sometimes gloomy forest leading uphill. Clearings are reached overlooking the Loud and Hodder valleys for relief until eventually you reach the final top of Longridge Fell [350m]. From the trig point enjoy the views northwards of patchwork fields below and the background of the route you have followed.
Longridge Fell — Longridge.  8km / 5m
The long descent to complete the round. If you have been blessed with good weather you will be able see Snowdonia ahead and pick out the Isle of Man Hills across Morecambe Bay with a background of the setting sun. Or then again it may be raining! Following the very edge of the fell you will come to the road at Jeffrey Hill car park. Here there are interesting  information boards about the area. There is the suggestion that the river Ribble may have reached the sea through the vale of Chipping at one time, being diverted by glacial deposits to it’s present more circuitous route to the south of Longridge Fell. The road has to be followed past the golf course for a couple of kilometres until you can take field paths towards Longridge. Near the end join the route of the old railway line which took stone from the extensive quarries to supply many Lancashire cities. Soon you are back at the Millennium Cross and maybe enjoying a pint in the Townley Arms reflecting on the last 60km!
Contact me if you would like detailed directions.

Beacon Fell – Views and Sculptures

Following days of heavy rain, and serious floods in other parts of the country, today was forecast to be sunny, cold and dry. This proved this to be correct.  After a mornings work I was keen to make the best of the afternoon. A quick trip up to ‘Craig Y Longridge’ showed me there was still too much seepage for bouldering so I decided on a short walk on and around Beacon Fell. The tracks up there would at least be better than the sodden fields elsewhere. I can see Beacon Fell from the back of my house and subconsciously check it out for clear weather most days.

Beacon Fell

Today was perfect. In the summer months I have often used a circular walk through fields from home up to Beacon Fell and back. These tracks are a small part of my Longridge Skyline Walk, which takes in Beacon Fell, Parlick, Fairsnape-Totridge, Kitcham Hill, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell, a round of over 60k. More of that another time.

Beacon Fell has been a Country Park since 1970. The good visibility of the fell made it a good location for warning beacons. These have been recorded for nearly a thousand years. Until the beginning of the last century it was rough farmland and then was acquired in 1909 by Fulwood Council as a water supply. Water was collected in Barnsfold Reservoir and from there piped to Fulwood via Horns Dam and Haighton. Conifers were planted to help drainage. After 1959, no longer required for water, it was left unattended until acquired by Lancs County Council and opened as an early Country Park. It seems to have gained in popularity ever since.

At 266 metres (873 ft) above sea level, small compared with the neighbouring fells, its position offers commanding views over the flat plain of The Fylde and  Morecambe Bay to the west, the Bowland Hills to the North as well as the Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley to the south-east. On  clear days, as today, the Welsh hills, the Lakeland Fells and the Isle Of Man are visible.

Bowland Visitor Centre

The park is well served with a welcoming visitor centre and cafe, open all year. From these car parks  tracks wander all over the fell and forest. Pick up a leaflet if you are unfamiliar with the area. Today I was keen to climb to the top for the views but decided to seek out along the way a series of sculptures by local artist Thompson Dagnall. The first is just above the centre, Orme Sight, a grotesque face with a drill hole sighting through his eye onto the N. Wales coast.

Orme Sight

As you walk up through the trees you come across the Walking Snake, a remarkable 50ft long, winding, wooden snake which kids love to balance along until they come eye to eye with head!

Walking Snake

Close by is an unusual use of trees uprooted and ‘replanted’ upside down to create the Spruced up Heron. I think this has changed from its original and now gives the impression of the bird part buried in an inverted position. Needs a new name.

Spruced up Heron

Unfortunately the Hanging Bat in trees near the top of the fell has been dismantled because of rotting timbers and won’t reappear. Further  down the fell you may find the scary Black Tiger and Kissing Seat.

Black Tiger Kissing Seat

Anyhow to get back to the top of the fell and the trig point there were a gaggle of people staring out at the very clear views to the west.

Where is it?

As it says ‘on the tin’ there were commanding views in all directions – I don’t think I’ve seen them so clear!  Snow on the Lakeland tops, lots more wind turbines in the Irish Sea, Isle Of Man looking very close and some heights to its left in the distance – must have been Northern Island. Unable with my camera to capture this scene, but no problem with the closer and impressive Bowland Fells of Fairsnape and Parlick, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell.

Pendle and Longridge Fell

I continued my walk around the northern slopes of the fell, on past the pond with lots of ducks and through avenues of spruce back to the Visitor Centre. Interesting displays about Bowland and surroundings took my attention. In particular photos of lime kilns in the Chipping area, the volunteers manning the display were knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. By the time I emerged the sun was going down low over the Welsh hills giving a fittingly beautiful view to end the day. Looking just like a watercolour wash.

[Don’t forget to click photos to enlarge]

The Clwyd Hills.

So a wonderful afternoon – some of the clearest views I’ve seen from here, a sculpture trail and added interest from the Bowland Visitor Centre.     Did I mention you could see Blackpool Tower?

Looks good for tomorrow too ……..

 

PPS Have a look at my may 2014  post    https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/beacon-bivi/  for more sculptures on Beacon Fell.