A couple of weeks ago I wrote of the devastating storm damage in the forests on Longridge Fell, well today I witnessed the same on Beacon Fell. The difference being that here, as it is a public park, the foresters have been busy clearing much of the damage making the place safe for the public. I imagine that at the time of the storms, early December, the public would have been excluded.
I only came up here this afternoon for a short walk, I seem to have been up and down Longridge Fell most days during the holidays – time for a change of scenery.
The sun was trying to make an appearance.
Parked up in the little quarry on the quieter east side of the fell, a modest circuit was completed from there. The little pond was looking particularly attractive in the low light. I wish I could paint. Round the corner piles of cut timber started to appear and it was obvious that there had been a lot of storm damage in amongst the trees. Logging machinery was scattered about, being a Sunday, nobody was working. I expect that when they replant, they will use more sustainable native species. Where there is destruction, there is hope.
I almost never set forth yesterday, the mist was so thick down in Longridge, but I wanted to continue with my renewed walking therapy. Friends had called in for coffee, so it was 2pm when I emerged out of the worst of the fog to park on Jeffrey Hill. The whole of Chipping Vale was a sea of cloud, with only the higher tops of the Bowland Fells visible across the way. My route up the fell was shrouded in mist, giving a spooky feel to the place in the low sunlight. I had the feeling that I was being followed, but no one else was about. As I climbed the air cleared and soon I was above in blue sky with the ridge of Longridge Fell visible ahead.
At the summit was a lady with her Collie dog, she had been there awhile, enthralled by the views in front of her. It was indeed spectacular. Thick cloud filled all the valleys, and there above were the tops of the fells in sparkling clarity. Beacon Fell, Fairsnape, the Croasdale Fells and Waddington Fell. And in the distance the Yorkshire Three Peaks. All islands in the clouds. Looking down onto the mist I thought there was the arc of a broken spectre, but unfortunately it never really materialised.
Another walker arrived with his Springer Spaniel. Whilst the three of us chatted about the spectacle, the two dogs ran themselves ragged in a game of tag. I stayed longer than usual before drifting away as more people started arriving. I continued taking photographs as I came down the fell. By the time I had reached the road, a full moon rose from the east as the sun set in the west.
I’m lucky to be surrounded by accessible fells giving good local walking, but at the moment I’m restricted to cycling, so I’m making the best of any opportunity for exercise whilst the sun shines. Today’s ride took me around the Bleasdale lanes without much climbing up the fells. However, I was surprised that when I plotted the route later, I’d climbed a thousand feet. It didn’t feel like that, there must have been lots of gradual ascents in low gear. Throughout the day I was treated to fine views of the Bleasdale Fells, Beacon Fell and on the run into home Longridge Fell.
Within four miles I was cycling through Inglewhite with its C17th market cross and then down across the River Brock into Claughton, a scattered parish by the motorway. Somewhere in the middle of it is Claughton Hall, but I only saw the western gate lodge. Up the lane was a medieval cross, at least its gritstone base.
On the map there was a lane taking me in the right direction, but it turned out to be trickier than I thought, and I ended up walking the last uphill half, all very pleasant though.
I was soon on familiar roads skirting the Bleasdale Estate, with the fells all around me.
The ‘back’ of Beacon Fell.
Fairsnape and Parlick.
I stopped for a break and was joined by a party of horse riders from a nearby trecking centre. In the field to my left were dozens of dogs running about, some sort of canine day nursery. The staff didn’t seem very friendly when I stopped to look, perhaps they are wary of dog thefts at present.
Next it was mainly downhill on convoluted lanes with Longridge Fell ahead. I live at the base of the fell, so no further climbing was needed.
The sun was a cold November grey by the time I pulled into home. Another simple 20 miles through Lancashire’s countryside.
As I pedalled out of Longridge today I had no intention of going up Beacon Fell, but that is where I ended up, don’t ask me why.
Next week is the climate crisis meeting in Glasgow, so cycling and recycling could well be on the agenda. My carbon footprint today should be low providing I don’t switch on the central heating or eat any meat. Life is becoming complicated, with all manner of ways of going green. If we all recycled and if we all cycled instead of using our cars … but that is not going to happen. Pollution in our cities decreased drastically during the first lockdown, when nobody was going anywhere. Apparently the roads are busier than ever now. So what does our chancellor come up with in his budget to reduce global warming? A planned increase in fuel duty is cancelled because of fuel shortages and high prices. He has also cut the flat-rate tax on domestic flights to zero to encourage more flights. Those two decisions don’t look good for our green credentials in the international climate debate we are hosting next week. A case of business over environment. We will never reach our modest carbon reduction targets.
Anyhow, that is not why I’m on Beacon Fell. I’d been feeling rather guilty as I had opted out of a planned ride around the Guild Wheel yesterday with Martin. https://phreerunner.blogspot.com/
I’d woken up to monsoon rains and a dismal forecast, so I contacted Martin in Manchester to wimp out of a ride in the pouring rain. He agreed and I think cancelled his plans with others. By 11 o’clock the rain had stopped and there was a brief interlude of a couple of hours before the torrents returned — we would have been OK. Elsewhere in the NW there were floods and they have my sympathies. I still felt guilty and disappointed that we’d missed our ride.
Today looked like a repeat, weather wise, and I idled the morning away, but by one o’clock it was still just dry and bright, so I roused myself for a short spin around the lanes. Somehow cycling is not as spontaneous as going for a walk or run, all the faff of different clothing and oiling the bike etc. It is too easy just not to bother, especially for some brief exercise. But I need the exercise as I feel I’m becoming unfit and flabby from my enforced inability to walk far, Plantar Fasciitis, which seems to bring on red wine drinking and snacking.
The road out to Chipping seemed to fly along, maybe I had the wind behind me. Soon I was on quieter, more relaxed lanes and just went where the bike pointed. Before I realised it was pointing up Beacon Fell. So I dropped into my grandad gear and puffed my way up. I have been a little concerned recently by getting out of breath on any marginal incline, so I looked upon this ascent as a bit of a test. I’m due at my doctor’s practise for a proper test in the near future. Needless to say, I made it and pulled into the visitor centre/café at the top. It is half-term, so there are a scattering of outdoor type families taking to the pathways. The café is open as a ‘takeaway’ so I buy a coffee and sit at one of the outside tables. The coffee is not as good as usual, I wonder if they have changed suppliers and gone for a cheaper brand, I don’t say anything.
It’s nearly all downhill back to home but I come across a few interesting diversions which may show up on my phone camera.
As well as the gloomy global climate predictions I’m also concerned about the steadily growing Covid infections, hospital admissions and deaths. A close friend had a close encounter with a Northern Casualty Department last week, third world is how he described it. I’m just glad I’m booked in for my booster vaccination tomorrow.
Get recycling and save the planet.
Get your booster and save yourself.
A gloomy Bowland.
A gloomy Beacon Fell.
A gloomy BC.
In the highlands.
Not many of these about.
No way. I’ve been caught before. Don’t want to end up in casualty!.
Not a footpath in sight, not a stile climbed, not a fell summited, and you will be pleased to hear not a church visited. Oh! Well, maybe just one. My heel is playing up just when the weather is bucking up. Not to be defeated, I drag my bike out of the garage and do a few short rides around Longridge. So today I was ready for a longer ride. Out to Bashall Eaves, Cow Ark, Chipping, Whitechapel and back, about 29 miles (47 km) or so.
Cycling brings a different aspect to one’s locality. No flowers to identify, no birds to watch, no passing conversations. Just the tarmac ahead and that steep ascent looming. Today I concentrate on the inns that I pass, past and present. In the Ribble Valley and Bowland we have been lucky to have had an excellent selection of quality establishments. Rural inns have a long pedigree, their names tell us much of the local history. Unfortunately the country inn has suffered from economic pressures and several hostelries have bitten the dust. Covid has had a serious effect on the hospitality business.
On my corner is the Alston Arms, now The Alston which has had several reincarnations since its establishment in 1841. It has survived the COVID lockdowns and seems as busy as ever with locals, a large outside seating area has helped. Strange that I have not visited since over two years ago, when it was the favourite venue of my friend developing Alzheimer’s disease. She always ordered the same — fish, chips and mushy peas. And they were good!
The second one encountered on the road is the Derby Arms, recently reopened after a period under a fish franchise, The Seafood Pub Company, It looked open today for lunch, so all is well, hopefully. The area around here was part of the Derby Estate. The Stanley Family, Earls of Derby, established lands in Thornley here, hence the pub’s name.
Along the way through Chaigley I pass the former Craven Heifer Hotel. The Craven Heifer became a popular pub name, particularly in the Craven area, so I don’t know how one popped up in Bowland. This hotel was a regular eating place at the end of the last century, it closed Christmas Eve 2008. Since then, it has been a private residence.
On the way down to the Hodder I passed these gates which are normally locked. Today they were open, and I had a quick peep into their lands, with a lake and a large house in view. No idea who lives here. Chadswell Hall.
I stopped off at the Higher Hodder Bridge, the river was as low as I’ve seen for a while. Just up the road is the former Higher Hodder Hotel. This was another hotel with a long period of serving good food and ales. It became well known to the fishermen casting in the Hodder below. I noticed on an old photograph a petrol pump in its forecourt, those days are long gone. Its demise came in 2001 with a severe fire from the kitchen. Bought by a local businessman and converted into apartments. It still has problems with erosion from below where the Hodder flows, undermining the banks. One day it may all fall into the river.
At the next crossroads I knew of an ancient milestone but had never stopped to investigate, Today I had a good look at it. There was lettering on two sides with mileages. On the West face To Preston 10M. To Gisburn M8. On the North face To Lancaster 16M. To Whalley M3. 1766. It turns out that this is Grade II listed.
The next pub is the Red Pump in Bashall Eaves. This had been closed for some time when it was resurrected by the present owners in 2014, who turned it into a ‘gastropub’ with accommodation including recently added Glamping Yurts and Shepherd Huts. I notice that it has restricted opening hours, so calling in for a pint is not always possible. The pub has a connection to a murder mystery that was never solved.
Some serious pedalling has to be done climbing the road towards Browsholme Hall who have got in on the café scene. No time to visit today. On through the strangely named hamlet of Cow Ark and soon I’m freewheeling down the road which follows the line of the Roman Road from Ribchester to Carlisle and back over the Hodder at Doeford Bridge.
The Gibbon Bridge Hotel is a little farther on and has a history only going back to 1982 when the family diversified from farming to catering. Over the years the hotel has grown and particularly in recent times with the focus on weddings. They still do a good lunch in the dining room, with magnificent views over the gardens and Chipping Vale.
Chipping at one time had three pubs in the village. The Talbot has been closed for years and is looking in a sorry state. Opposite, the Tillotson’s is now open again but has annoyingly random hours, they were missing trade today as lots of tourists were wandering around the quaint village.
The Sun has had a renaissance and is now thriving both as a locals’ drinking pub and a reliable eatery. It is reputedly the most haunted pub in Lancashire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA1MZp3WYdI I couldn’t resist a wander around the churchyard looking for Lizzie Dean’s gravestone.
The Cobbled Corner Café has not reopened — it was a favourite with cyclists.
The Dog and Partridge just outside the village dates from the 16th century but closed in 2018 and is up for sale for residential development. Sign of the times.
I now head out to Whitechapel on narrow lanes under the shadow of Beacon Fell, When I first came to this area in the early seventies a curiosity was the Cross Keys Inn run by a farming family. It had irregular hours depending on work on the farm, a quirky bar, a good pool table. Late night sessions were common. At times, if the landlord was busy elsewhere, there was an honesty box for the drinks you had consumed. The inn was known, tongue in cheek, as The Dorchester! It closed over a decade ago but was bought by a local builder who has restored it along with accommodation units and has recently reopened it. Again, as the case with many of these rural pubs they are not open every day, particularly at the beginning of the week, but it is good to see it trading and I’ve promised myself a pint there soon.
Down the road is yet another Lancashire village, Inglewhite, centred on a village green and a cross. The pub here is called The Green Man and has a date stone of 1809. Green Men go back to pagan times and are a fairly common inn name — the sign here depicts a typical Green Man. This pub has been closed off and on for several years, reflecting the difficulties of successfully running a rural inn. Let’s hope it stays open for the foreseeable future. It was not open today!
Homeward-bound now with tiring legs, I pass the last rural pub — Ye Horns Inn. An 18th century listed building that closed four years ago. It had been run as a family business for decades, famous for its Goosnargh Roast Duck reared down the road, and its unique wooden panelled snug located behind the bar. New owners have developed the site with residential properties, but hope to reopen the pub soon. I await with bated breath. Another unique feature here is the men’s urinal across the road from the pub. Not sure how many drunken patrons were run down on this precarious crossing.
It is strange that my trip around all these rural inns didn’t involve any alcohol intake but as you saw several are closed for good, others concentrate on dining and others have limited opening. With a bit of organisation and forward planning, a right good pub cycle could be achieved around the eight trading pubs— but whether it would be legal or safe to ride a bike at the end of it would be debatable.
The four miles drive, hopefully allowed in Tier 4, to Whitechapel was treacherous after a severe overnight frost. Mike had already arrived in the Village Hall car park in his 4X4. We had planned to walk on the lanes to avoid the boggy fields, but the lanes turned out to be of ice rink quality. The modest circuit south of Beacon Fell was completed without incidence. I didn’t take many photos as we chatted away.
Old School House. Whitechapel.
St James’ Church. 1738. The village was named after it.
The Cross Keys. Recently renovated but yet to open. In the past nicknamed ‘The Dorchester’
You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.
Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.
In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….
… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/
There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.
Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.
That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.
Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.
I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.
I can just see Beacon Fell from my house so when Mike suggested a walk, if it stopped raining, I checked it out. Most of the morning it was in deep clag and at lunchtime it was still raining but about 1pm there was brightness coming in from the west.
We met up for our socially distanced walk at the Quarry car park which is usually quieter than the rest. The tracks were busy with families and dog walkers, this has become the norm during these lockdown days. A quick obligatory visit to the trig point had us chatting to friends. There were a lot of fit looking people running around clutching maps, and we realised there was an orienteering competition in progress – South Ribble Orienteering Club one of the oldest in the country
Our way off the fell was through one of those woodland memorial grounds. We watched a roe deer at a distance, it had a very bright rump and seemed unable to escape the fencing. These are magic moments recalling J B Priestly’s classic 1949 book ‘Delight’ in which he wrote of the many joys to be found in even the simplest things. Worth a read if you can find it.
The path was only slippery at the bottom where we entered coppiced woodland. On the road was Fell Side Farm which I’d never really noticed with its date stone lintel,1707. Of course Mike had been inside in the past.
The normally quiet lane was busy with traffic which turned out to be from a ‘cut your own’ Xmas tree sale at Higher Lickhurst. Once past this we had the lane to ourselves around the base of the fell to pick up a farm track and a steep climb back towards the top. Down below a pheasant/partridge shoot was in progress and the shots seemed frighteningly close. No further comment.
It stayed dry for the two hours we were out and the minimal effort to get some exercise and chat paid off. Here are a few random photos of the day.
A gloomy summit.
Would this help?
Grade II Listed Fell Side. [Rebuilt].
Will it fit?
Crow Trees Farm. Strangely this made me think of ‘A Message To You Rudy’…
The sun was setting as I drove home for mince pies.
I have done quite a bit of walking on the River Brock recently, in fact most of it from the source to Brock Bottom. Today we walk onwards towards the Wyre a less frequented destination, I was expecting a lot of boggy fields with awkward stiles and yes that’s what we found.
Leaving the village green of Inglewhite with its market cross we were amazed at the development spreading out into the surrounding fields. It all looked rather fine country living but where will it end. Anyhow, we splodged on to escape on to a minor road just ahead of a herd of inquisitive, threatening bullocks.
We could relax and chat for the next mile or so until we dropped on an old way to the River Brock. There was a footbridge crossing into the Brock Bottom Mill site, I’ve written about this before. Today we walked on past the mill sites and through fields to Walmsley Bridge.
Then more fields with the River Brock cascading down hidden falls until we seemed to be in someone’s vast garden alongside the river with the no doubt grand house hidden to our left, Brock Side. It is great walking with Mike, an architect, because he seems to have been involved one way or another in the past with many of these rural redevelopments. His, no doubt up to the best standards.
After a bridge and weir the Brock has been tamed along the next stretch by concrete walls. A private road runs alongside to a dead end and a footbridge. On the left, half in someone’s garden, is the remains of a water powered mill, Matshead paper mill.Over the footbridge a lane follows the river downstream under the motorway, railway and canal to disappear without rights of way into the Wyre. No longer the bubbly Brock from Bleasdale. There is another weir by the road and the site of the old Brock Station, closed in 1939 to passengers and 1954 to freight, now utilised as a nature reserve.
Off to join the Wyre.
Back to the footbridge we were supposed to turn into a yard and follow a path between houses and barns. All I could see was a gate into a ‘private’ garden but Mike spotted someone and asked where the footpath went and was somewhat begrudgingly told – through the gate and past the garage. I doubt few will brave this way. We emerged from a series of gates and gardens back into the fields where all was rural again with open views to the Bleasdale Fells and Beacon Fell.
These fields lead us to Bilsborrow Hall Farm, the hall itself is well hidden in woods across the way. We trusted to our directional sense to find a way through what was more of an industrial site than a farm.
The next short stretch of road was scattered with expensive looking residences, some more pleasing to the eye than others.
More awkward stiles and soggy fields led us back to Inglewhite and the Green Man, closed of course.
I have wonderful memories of Doreen playing the piano, despite her worsening Alzheimer’s, at lunchtime in August 2019.
I’ve spent too much time today researching some new boots on the internet. I still haven’t made a choice but I need to soon as my present pair are deteriorating rapidly after, I admit, 2 years of heavy use. It was raining when I logged in and now when I look out the sun is shining. I had a 7 mile walk in mind alongside the River Brock and over Beacon Fell, did I have time to complete it. Let’s see. I park at a strategic place giving me road walking at the end in case I run out of daylight. 3 pm start.
I’m soon going down an old track to meet up with the River Brock at a footbridge where I cross to the northern side. Up to Brock Bottoms parking this is a popular walk and I meet a few families splashing about in the river. At the bridge there are plenty of cars parked.
Once past the parking/picnic site I meet nobody for the next hour or so. Slippy boardwalks seem dangerous, the paths are merely boggy. Autumn colour is appearing everywhere. I complete my stretch along the Brock at Jack Anderton Bridge, no I don’t know who he was.
Then I’m on that wonderful lane, lined with beech hedges, on the edge of Bleasdale. Parlick peeps over the hedge like an extinct volcano.
Now some brisk road walking with the Bleasdale Fells in the background. The sun is already low in the trees as I climb up onto Beacon Fell. There is always somebody at the trig point though the car park on the other side is virtually empty. A new path, to me, takes me steeply off Beacon Fell down alongside a little clough to emerge next to the beautifully situated Salisbury House. All I have left is a mile or so of quiet roads to my car. 6pm finish.
The clocks change this weekend so don’t forget your head torch.
I parked up rather late in the day, to be honest I had missed the sunshine but roused myself for some much-needed exercise. It was 4pm and there was rain in the air. I choose one of my local ‘wet weather walks’ knowing all the fields were supersaturated. Once more this week I have a hard surface to walk on. I was up here a few days ago with Mike doing the ‘other half’ of the ‘Bleasdale Circuit’.
I walk up the estate road from the delightful South Lodge. Ahead of me are the bleak Bleasdale Fells with Bleasdale Tower, the big house, sheltered below. I pass cottages originally associated with the C19th reformatory school established here for juvenile miscreants. There is still an old post box in the wall.
The lane skirts the big house and heads off across the fell side. There is an upper lodge on the lane.
Now there are more open views across the fields to the surrounding fells, a rainstorm is approaching Beacon Fell.
I come out onto the high road heading over to Oakenclough and Dolphinholme. The Fylde coastline at Blackpool is prominent in the incandescent light, Blackpool Tower is always something to focus on if you can spot it.
A long downhill stretch of road and I’m almost back at the car. There is a prospering trekking centre and Tootle Hall, an old farm which used to be a café in my heyday.
I knew Beacon Fell car parks would be full on a Saturday. I knew Brock Bottoms car parks would also be full. The Covid-19 crisis is bringing everybody out into the countryside, no doubt the coast as well. Shouldn’t we be encouraged by all these people exercising in the countryside? Well no – the amount of litter I saw today and the inconsiderate and illegal parking problems were distressing and that was on a walk when I tried to avoid the hot spots. I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the British public the longer this lockdown carries on. Selfish and ignorant people are certainly spoiling it for the rest of us. Rant over – almost.
Having said all that I’ve just enjoyed a lovely evening’s walk without meeting hardly a soul, although I came close.
For a change of scenery, I wanted to visit Beacon Fell. I often walk there and back from home on field paths in a round of 12 miles but today I only had a few hours to spare late in the day. Consulting the map I reckoned I could walk along the Brock River and climb up to the fell without encountering the crowds.
Having parked my car on a quiet lane about 5 miles drive from home I set off at 4pm. The lane dropped me down to the River Brock near the popular car park. There were cars parked all over on double yellow lines as an overflow from the official carpark. The noise from the throngs of people by the river was all-pervading. Picnics, barbecues and drinking was the name of the game, all crammed together on the riverside. I’ve never understood the idea of bringing all your urban trappings into the countryside, but maybe they don’t have gardens or parks at home.
My plan was to walk upstream on little paths by the river and in fields, I never met another person – what a contrast. The Brock was fairly low after the dry weather we have had. I saw a couple of Dippers but otherwise all the birds were anonymous, singing hidden in the trees. The path is good with duckboards over the boggy areas. A solitary cottage is passed well isolated from the virus. Onwards through woods just above the river. An old ford in the Brock is reached at the bottom of Snape Rake Lane, there is a footbridge alongside. I can remember driving down here once many years ago, fording the river awkwardly in my landrover to drive up the other side only to find the gate at the top locked. A quick turn around and retreat had me coming back through the difficult ford rather red-faced. My reckless years. Today I was content to sit and look at the peaceful scene.
Climbing away from the river up the steep lane brought me into the woods high above the river.
I then followed quiet lanes up the northern side of Beacon Fell with improving views of the Bleasdale Hills. In the hedgerows tall Foxgloves, white Bramble flowers and wild Dog Roses were in profusion.
I knew a forest break that cut back right up the slopes of Beacon Fell. After the natural woods alongside the Brock, this appeared sterile and eerily silent.
At the top was the friendly old crocodile carving studded with coins.
I was soon at the trig point without meeting anybody.
Although on the way down towards the car park and cafe people were wandering about. it was here that I started coming across blatant littering less than 100m from bins. Obviously, the culprits expect someone else to come along later and clear it all up. The cafe and toilets remain closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
My way off the fell was through the Memorial Forest where you can purchase a plot and a tree as your fitting memory. Another memorial was a field of native trees donated by a former Countryside Ranger, a simple inscribed stone commemorated the gift.
Buzzards were flying above on the evening thermals.
A previously coppiced beech wood was traversed out onto the lane where my car was parked.
Longridge Fell is usually my quick fix hill for some fresh air and views but the tracks up onto it will be muddy, to say the least. I choose instead Beacon Fell with its well-made tracks, it is no further to drive. Longridge Fell Is reputedly the most southerly named fell so Beacon Fell must be the second being only one mile further north. I can ascend both of them easily from my house for longer walks but this afternoon I only have an hour or so spare.
As I arrive in the quarry car park a pair of Roe Deer stand and look at me but quickly disappear when I open the car door. I thought I had a photo of the male but nothing shows up.
I walk briskly in a circle around the hill on familiar paths. I’ve never come to terms with the waymarking here.
There are a few dog walkers out, the cafe is strangely quiet. Everywhere seems green and moss-covered, a sign of a mild and very wet winter.
As I’ve mentioned on previous visits up here storms have taken their toll on some areas of the forest with a lot of tree felling taking place to tidy things up. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as the fell has a more open feel to it now and some of the new plantings are of native deciduous trees. Also, wood carvers have been busy creating new pieces. I add a few more to my collection.There are ‘Green Men’ carved on some trees… … but today I find something a bit different – a ‘Green Woman’ or has someone taken a fancy to one of the lady volunteer rangers?
An obligatory visit to the trig point and I notice that the views to Fairsnape and Parlick are becoming obscured by growing firs – time for another storm?
I’m back at the car within the hour feeling much refreshed.
It’s the summer holidays and I’m entertaining my youngest grandson for a couple of days, that’s all he has in his busy diary. I think of some local walks that will keep him interested and not be overdemanding. When I was his age, 11years, I could cover 20 miles no problem across rough moorland, alone and while smoking a few Woodbines. Maybe not, but I think the generations have softened the Human Spirit. While he stays with me there is an unplugged mentality regarding mobile devices, I try to explain that nothing will happen whilst he is off line. He is not convinced.
He arrives with his stepmother, both keen to explore the local countryside. I’ve devised a route up onto Beacon Fell that is interesting, short and easy. They seem happy with it as we arrive at the cafe in time for lunch. On the way we passed Barnsfold Reservoir where his great grandad used to fish and paint piscatorial images for the fellow fishermen. I’ve often wondered what happened to those skilled canvases. We marvelled at the size of two Buzzards wheeling overhead and we wondered about unusual tree fungi, a white bracket on a beech tree which I’ve been unable to identify.
We walked past a farm where the family have diversified into a hair salon what was previously a cowshed, good on them.
We passed more fishing lakes this time part of a recreational complex with holiday chalets. The original farm, Wood Fold, is grade II listed but has been submerged by ancillary housing. I never realised how much-hidden developments there were in the area. There was only a minor footpath diversion through this development.
Onwards, with grandson navigating, we followed my route of the other day through Crombleholme Fold and up the fields and into the woods to the honey spot of Beacon Fell.
We were probably the only people that had walked here, all be it only a couple of miles. A trio of elderly cyclists arrived and clattered into the cafe, they had come through the hills from Lancaster. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches. On our way back we had time for an attempt at climbing the new snake from tail to head and then we were out of the woods and back at the car. There were some new wood carvings of leafy Green men, a pre-Christian symbol. Incidentally, there is a Green Man Pub in nearby Inglewwhite.
I hope that a few navigational skills have been absorbed.
The afternoon was spent pruning bushes in my garden and the more exciting shredding of those branches which provided lots of laughs. A competitive game of boules anticipated our imminent family trip to France.
Refreshed by Thursday morning our next jaunt was to Brock Bottoms just below Beacon Fell. We were one of the first cars parked up in the popular picnic spot. It is years since I’ve been along this stretch of the River Brock. Memories of early forages with my own young children keep coming back. The river is low, we see no kingfishers or dippers which I was hoping for.
The highlight of this walk was going to be Brock Mill but alas time has taken its toll on the ruins of the mill. Where there had been substantial buildings there were only stones with little evidence of the mill race, waterwheel or the mill itself.
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!
It took some imagination to see the ruins of the cottages.
Slightly disappointed we retraced our steps. Having given my grandson a lecture on watermills I drove back via Chipping where there is a water wheel attached to a house, a former corn mill and then converted to a restaurant with the wheel turning.
I cut the lawn whilst he caught up on ‘social media’, he hates it when I call it ‘antisocial media’
The weather remained sunny and dry and the plan for the afternoon was some bouldering up on Longridge Fell. Again keeping it low key I bypassed the tough Craig Y Longridge and settled for Kemple End. We dropped into the secluded heather bowl that is the old quarry. We were out of the sun and spent a couple of hours trying some of the easier problems. He realised that outdoor climbing is so different to the climbing walls he has been visiting. At the end of the session, I’m not convinced I’ve converted him into a proper climber. I was so busy spotting him that I didn’t take any photos – next time.
I don’t know who was most tired by the time his father came to take him home. See you in France.
I can see the tree-covered summit of Beacon Fell from home [photo above], only just as new houses spring up. Last night I thought it a good idea to walk from home up to Beacon Fell, have lunch in their excellent cafe and walk home again, The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind.
This is a regular walk and I don’t need a map, which is fortuitous as I didn’t take one. I rely on my phone for local mapping. This route to Beacon Fell is the one I use for the start of my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW. I faffed about this morning with various things, one of which was my camera’s lens cover which keeps getting stuck. WD 40 may not have been the best idea but I tried it and realised that it would take some time to clear itself. So I leave the camera at home and use my phone for pictures. It was 11am when I left my house and bumped into a neighbour. He is used to my eccentricities and enquired where I was going – “Beacon Fell for lunch” “Oh!” was all he could say.
The fields were high in summer growth and at every stile I was faced with a barrier of nettles, brambles, Balsam and that sticky plant. I spent a lot of time bashing down the undergrowth. Shorts were not the best idea. I was getting nowhere and becoming increasingly hot and sweaty.
Worse was to come when I reached what were previously open fields but now were transformed into parcels of equestrian land, paddocks I suppose, by electric fences. Large fields with footpaths and open access were now a no-go zone. I was fuming at the lack of thought for us humble walkers. This was more like an obstacle course than a rural wander. After limbo dancing under some live electric fences, I started to become rebellious detaching the wire where I could, they were live! Knowing I was on a Right of Way I ploughed through, Sir Hugh will understand. The last obstacle to a bridge was dealt with and I was on someone else’s land. On a serious note, I will be reporting this blatant obstruction of footpaths to Lancs County Council once the dust has settled using their excellent MARIO web site.
By the time I reached the fishing lakes at Horns Reservoir I was well behind schedule. I thought of curtailing the day, but no my obstinacy carried me forward. Exiting the field by the narrow Right of Way was impossible but I knew a way around. Later exchanging pleasantries with the landowner I couldn’t come to say “why don’t you clear the footpath?” Writing this now I feel I should ride out there tomorrow and ask him.
Things improved and I made good progress through well-known fields. Lovely green grass hid a hare which set off at speed when I approached. I was impressed at a stile where not only was the correct signage clear but there was also a small map showing the Rights of Way in the surrounding area. Brilliant. I can never understand why some farmers make it difficult to cross their land – why not sign the way and be done with us.
So much more helpful than ….A barn at Whinneyclough had some unusual, obviously historic, features and I was caught trying to get some close-up photos. Note the finials on the roof, the covered mullioned window and the dated door. The owner seemed insensible to my curiosity. The nearby farmhouse is also of architectural interest but was out of bounds.
On through the golf course where the trees have matured in the years I’ve been coming here. Nobody seemed to be playing at the moment. There were signs indicating ‘footgolf’ – whatever next.
The diversion around Fir Trees Farm seems less irritating as the years go by. I still have no faith in the Planning Authorities who allow it. The brick fronted farmhouse is Grade II listed.
Well trodden paths through Higher Barker and the burgeoning complex at the former Cross Keys Inn. When I first moved to this area this was a favourite place to drink, pre breathalysers, with the beer being served in the farm parlour. The way onwards is always boggy, you will be cursing me if following this route. But now Beacon Fell is there above. A couple of awkward fields and then a long traverse of green pasture brings me out on the road at Crombleholme where there is an impressive C17th house, today splendid with its colourful garden.
Up to the fields and into the woods and suddenly I’m in the main carpark of Beacon Fell. There are people everywhere enjoying the summer sunshine. I present myself at the cafe counter sweaty and dishevelled, probably the only person to arrive here under his own steam. The tea and sandwiches are perfect as I sit at one of the outside tables and watch humanity. Curiously I didn’t take any photos, battery running low but this what it was like.
Aa I didn’t visit the summit, it was all downhill to home. Away from the crowds the paths are eerily quiet. Concessionary paths have been established down to Carwags where a quiet road takes you onwards. Views open to Parlick behind and to Pendle and Longridge Fell ahead. by now my phone was running out of juice hence few photos and no map to follow. An even more rural lane with grass down the middle comes out at Loud Higher Bridge.
I follow the infant River Loud through fields some of which may be trespassing, no map remember, but I eventually come out at a deserted Loudscales Farm. I know the way home from here. up the lane to the road and down to a junction of paths. Take the middle one up to Withinreap Farm, pass the ‘figure of eight’ ponds and arrive at Lancaster Farm where fields lead to Higher House Farm. From here there are more views to Beacon Fell, the Bowland Fells.
The football match down the road is notable for its spectators’ foul language drifting across the town. Welcome home. It is five o’clock when I turn down my road with a knowing nod to that neighbour.
Normally I can see Beacon Fell from my house – but not this morning. A freezing mist hung over the landscape. Not to be deterred I wanted to walk up there and back, in deference to the weather and my late start I took the car some part way. I know these footpaths well as I often do this walk or a variation, it is in fact the first section of my Longridge Skyline Walk.
The snow was disappearing from the fields as I set off. Soon I was walking through the first of several developments where an original farmhouse with its surrounding barns has morphed into an expensive looking ‘hamlet’. This one is based around Higher Barker.
Familiar field paths [I didn’t need a map today] lead to the Cross Keys Inn where holiday type units have been built around the site, none ready for occupation in what is a speculative development. The Cross Keys was a farm-cum-basic pub run by brothers and known affectionately and ironically by locals as The Dorchester. What of its future?
The lane ahead is always soggy and today was no exception. I could hear a woodpecker in the trees of Whitechapel.
The sun was trying to break through the mist as I crossed fields to Crombleholme Fold another group of houses old and new. The sheep were surprised to see me emerging from the gloom.
Still no view of Beacon Fell which I knew was looming up above me. The trees were soon reached and as I entered them a small herd of Roe Deer passed in front of me seconds after taking this picture.
The car park at the visitor centre was virtually empty and I was the only one in the cafe where I enjoyed a good coffee. To reach the summit I followed the latest version of the walking snake, this one is expertly crafted from stone so should be more durable than the previous wooden sculpture.
I had the summit to myself with tantalising glimpses of Parlick and Fairsnape Fells through the mists.
A newish path, there are many since the storms of last year, and a concessionary bridleway through deciduos plantings took me out of the park.
A field footpath led me down to the fishing lake/holiday homes of Woodfold, another development which seems to be enlarging every time I pass this way. Do these places go under the planning radar?
My next aim was Barnsfold Farm environs where more sympathetic conversions were carried out decades ago.
Then it was muddy fields to Bullsnape Hall and back to my car just as the sun finally burst through. The final stile was a challenge.
I’m busy today but need a bit of exercise whilst the sun is shining. Beacon Fell is an obvious local choice so I skip lunch and drive up. I park in the free eastern quarry. There are a few dog walkers around the pond. I feel a little disorientated at a path junction where I expected to see the ‘Black Tiger’ sculpture, is it being repaired? Anyhow onwards past lots of storm damaged trees. I check out the ‘The Walking Snake’, I’d heard it was rotting and found there was little left. The same with the nearby ‘Upside Down Bird’, only part intact. Nothing lasts for ever.
Remains of the Snake.
Slowly rotting Upside Down Bird.
I went into the cafe/info centre and asked the delightful volunteer lady what was happening to the sculptures. “Never mind the sculptures have you seen what has happened to the trees?” I mentioned a few storm damaged seen as I had walked over. “The whole forest was devastated in the arctic storm we had a couple of weeks ago” Yes it was a wild few days I replied, were you up here then? “No I was in Lanzarote” That was another story. Apparently the tall trees experienced a ferocious wind from the east, not the usual, and with the thin soil hundreds were blown down or literally snapped. There has been a large cleaning up process to safely open up the pathways.There will be an even bigger replanting exercise. Click to read…
Getting back to the sculptures she told me the Black Tiger had been stolen!!!
The others were rotting and may be replaced, funds permitting. The head of the snake was languishing in the display room. Apparently the new fad of embedding copper coins into wooden structures hastens their demise. So new sculptures will be higher out of reach of vandals, though not necessarily thieves. She mentioned some new installations for me to find, and off I went.
I took the long circuit round to the west and eventually arrived at the ‘Crocodile’ which may be a lizard and found that the tail has gone so perhaps the coins are causing damage. Back up to the dew pond to admire the new Kingfisher beautifully carved to show the grain of the wood. Nearby I found a Frog.
I next went up to the summit for views of the Bowland Fells and Morecambe Bay. Just below the summit is an Owl carving that I’m not particularly fond of, too sterile and more like plastic than wood. There were lots of children on a school educational trip nearby and when I took out my camera general panic ensued with the teachers ordering the children out of the way. I felt embarrassed that I had unwittingly flouted their child protection procedures. I took a quick picture of the average owl and slunk off into the trees feeling chastised and wondering what is happening to our world.
Not a child in sight.
I couldn’t find any other new installations so it gave me an excuse to return to the information desk for more precise directions. The Woodpecker and the Dragon Fly were up in trees so I hadn’t been observant enough.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet”. An appropriate quote from Stephen Hawking who passed away on 14th March, 2018.
With that in mind I soon found the Woodpecker and the Dragonfly.
Walking back to the carpark I was amazed at the damage inflicted by those arctic winds. Could have done with some of those trees for my wood burner.
It was encouraging today to see the number of school children out and about exercising and learning something about our glorious countryside. I don’t particularly want to sour this post with grumbles about litter but there was lots of evidence that those children, here on environmental learning courses, had not learnt about taking their litter home. Teach them about this as well as the geology and trees. I came back to the car with pockets full of rubbish.
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.
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.