Funny how the day turns out. I’ve been festering in the house for a few days due to some minor medical problems – but you don’t want to know about them. Midday I drive to the supermarket for supplies, why don’t I walk as it is only 500 m around the corner? I’ve just not felt like exercise as I said. Emerging after yet another troubled time with the self-service till, I do so much prefer a chat with a friendly cashier, (We are becoming so isolated from each other, have you noticed?) the brilliance of the day hits me. Blue sky, warmish sunshine and a pleasant breeze, ideal for a walk.
I ponder where would be best for a short walk. Longridge Fell above me is an obvious choice, but I have come unprepared in lightweight trainers and I suspect after our recent rain the going will be boggy. Across the valley the Fairsnape/Wolf Fell ridge looks inviting, but again I only came out to buy a few vegetables. However, slightly dwarfed there is Beacon Fell; good paths, good views and a café. Perfect for my present ambivalent mood – at least I’ll get some fresh air.
Narrow confusing country lanes take me across Chipping Vale and up to the free of charge Quarry car park. A gang of three volunteers are cutting back the vegetation. The country park relies on volunteers, a pang of guilt passes by me. Strangely mine is the only car in the quarry.
I set off in a clockwise direction on the well maintained paths not too worried about which one I take, they all lead to the same place, eventually. It strikes me that I was originally inspired to get some exercise because of the sunshine and I now find myself deep in the rather gloomy forest. Never mind I soon come out into the open near the main metered car park and visitor centre. The café here prided itself on being open 364 days of the year, but I find it closed today. Another aftermath of Covid. Thursday to Sunday only now, what a shame, will it ever now make a comeback?
I wander up to the Orme Sight statue by Thompson Dagnall, I think the original art installation in the park. Looking through his one eye one can see far away, yes the Orme on the North Wales coast.
From here I take minor forest trods upwards. Most of the storm damage which I experienced here last time has been cleared, must be all those volunteers again. There is not much sign of Autumn in the woods as nearly all the trees are spruce. I find myself on a ‘Sculpture trail’ and spot one or two new to me. Then I confidently find the correct path to the top of the Beacon with its trig point. There is nearly always someone here enjoying the view.
“The triangulation pillar is situated on the site of where the beacon would have stood. Records show that there was a beacon here as long ago as 1002 AD. Later maps show it as part of a chain used to warn of impending danger such as the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588. More recent beacons have been used to celebrate such occasions as coronations and jubilees. Rising to a height of 266 metres above sea level the summit gives fantastic panoramic views of the Bowland Fell and Parlick Fell, with the coast beyond, Morecambe Power station and Blackpool Tower.”
I’ve seen it all before and as it is blowing a hoolie at the summit I move on quickly along the northern side of the hill to find a way towards the car park. I’m still the only car parked up which I strangely find a little spooky. A good 2.5 mile unintentional walk in and out of the trees. I was glad I had come out to the shops in the first place. Back at Craig Y a friend was going through the motions on the start of the traverse. I delayed him with talk of Warhol, Amsterdam, trees and Truss.
Losing the sunshine.
Cleared storm damage.
A ‘green woman’
The breezy beacon.
The spooky car park.
I’m looking forward to an even better day tomorrow.
My son had never been to see the Bleasdale Circle despite having walked around the Bleasdale estate since he was a young child. In fact when I think about it, we pushed him round in a ‘buggy’ when he was barely one. I had to remind him that was 50 years ago!
I must have a dozen or more posts regarding Bleasdale and have mentioned the Bleasdale Circle several times. Things didn’t look right today as we took the concessionary path towards the circle – the trees which enclosed it have virtually gone, I had to take a second look. As we came closer it was obvious that there had been severe storm damage since I was last here and the remaining trees harvested. To be honest the whole site looked a mess, all very disappointing, it’s going to need some loving care to make it presentable once more. The concrete inner ‘posts’ were still in place, but the interpretation board was undecipherable. The views from up high on the fells will no longer show the prominent circle of trees marking the site. See my previous photos here.
I quote from previous posts –
The circles are Bronze Age and were originally oak posts, an outer and inner ring. Discovered in 1898 and subsequently excavated they yielded a central burial chamber with cremation urns and ashes. These are now on display in the Harris Museum in Preston. The inner ring of wooden posts have been replaced with concrete posts. The orientation of the posts within the circle of the Bleasdale Hills may suggest some deep reason for their siting here.
We walked on around the estate at a slow pace as the temperature soared. Our plan was to finish the walk just before six when the Cross Keys Inn at nearby Whitechapel would be opening. The plan worked, and we enjoyed a beer and a good meal.
My friend and blogger Sir Hugh, conradwalks , often talks of ‘a bloggers gift’ Some unexpected happening or conversation that brings the story to life. He seems to collect these occurrences on a regular basis, many of them centred around a cup of tea with complete strangers. I’m secretly jealous.
Picture the scene – we are walking down a country lane when a man recognises me and enters into conversation. We are just passing his house, and he suggests showing us around his garden. We are not rushed for time, “Yes we would like that” was our innocent reply. The garden was large and unruly with many interesting plants. His main passion was apples and he had many varieties, most grafted onto stock by himself. We had finished the garden tour when his wife offered us tea, we couldn’t refuse. Next thing we were seated in the garden with tea and chocolate birthday cake. Talk was inevitably about the old times, we had many shared acquaintances.
As we came away after a good hour in their company I realised I should have had a photo of the occasion – a bloggers gift. Too late, what a missed opportunity.
Anyhow, here are a few photos from our stroll around the Whitechapel area beneath Beacon Fell. The emphasis was on beautiful Lancashire pastures with extensive views and on the multitude of very expensive properties, you don’t get much for less than a million. Mike was prospecting a possible route for a walk he is leading later in the month starting and finishing at the newly refurbished Cross Keys Inn.
Last year, when it was published, I ordered a copy of the new Cicerone guide book, Walking in Lancashire, by Mark Sutcliffe, I didn’t expect to find much new ground in its 40 walks that I hadn’t covered, but I thought it would be an incentive to get out in what still was some degree of Covid lockdown. Maybe one a week. Well, all that was scuppered by my plantar fasciitis, which virtually stopped me walking from August onwards. I would have been better with ‘Cycling in Lancashire’. Time has moved on, it is now March 2022, my heel is slowly improving, and I want to expand my walking distances and venues. I’ve been up and down Longridge Fell too many times.
The other day I picked up the Cicerone guide from my pile of ‘books to read’ and decided to start working my way through its offerings of day walks. A bit of a project, as my friend Sir Hugh would say. Opening the book, Walk 1 happened to cover Beacon Fell and the Brock valley, an area I know well, but it would provide a good introduction to the guide and Mark’s style of writing.
“Park at Brock Bottom. 5 miles with 800ft of ascent. 3hr.”
“This pretty route combines a riverside woodland walk through an intimate valley with a steady climb to the modest 266 m summit of Beacon Fell, which punches well above its weight when it comes to expansive views”
I wasn’t confident of those expansive views when I set off this morning in low cloud and moist air. The last two Covid years you wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere near Beacon Fell, but today only a couple of cars were in the Brock Mill picnic spot. In fact, I walked for 4 miles without seeing a soul. The riverside woodland walk was indeed a pretty route. The lively river Brock and the ancient mixed woodland was alive with birdsong. I reckon I can recognise most species on sight, but how I wished I could recognise their hidden songs.
A stretch of boardwalk looked decidedly dodgy.
Passing through the Waddecar Scout camp, which seems to have ready erected tents, I was wary of the flying tomahawks.
Most of this walk I did in June 2021and knowing the terrain, I was tempted to go my own way, but a bit of discipline made me follow Mark’s route – his directions were spot on. This led me to use a footpath up Gill Barn Clough, never before used. If you look carefully you can see the remains of the barn still visible under the moss which cloaks everything in the valley.
Emerging out of the clough into empty fields, the panorama of the Bleasdale Fells stole the show, as is mentioned in the guidebook.
I had never noticed this lone tree on the skyline before.
I was soon climbing up onto Beacon Fell. No sooner than they had cleared the damage from the storms at the end of 2021, then along came more storms last month, bringing down more trees. The views from the trig point were, as expected, a little hazy, definitely punching below weight. I couldn’t resist a coffee at the café, one must support local businesses. A couple sat on the next table described how their Alsatian had been spooked out by the coin encrusted crocodile.
Down through the new plantations, one a remembrance wood, into the coppiced willows and back to the car park where D of E Award expeditions were resting up – red, blue and yellow groups. They had a wet camp last night, but I hoped tonight would be better for them. They were all in good cheer.
I’m glad I’m coming home to a hot bath and a comfortable bed. A good introduction to Cicerone’s Lancashire walks.
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. Af