Category Archives: Beacon Fell

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Beacon Fell.

Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms and Kemple End.

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.

All smiles.

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.

BEACON FELL FOR LUNCH!

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.

*****

 

 

 

 

A MISTY BEACON FELL.

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.

An enjoyable day from nothing.

*****

What is happening up on Beacon Fell ?

Quite a lot.

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.

 

 

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.

PS I was wrong

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.