I was back up there tonight. As I walked in, I could see the six ducklings swimming about below. Their activity seemed frenetic – darting hither and thither. But no sign of Mother Duck. My anxiety rose, suspecting her fate. How would the ducklings survive?
I sat around in the light rain watching their activities.
Thankfully after perhaps an hour in flew Mother Duck who immediately took control of the situation and heralded her offspring into the dense bracken with much chirping and squeaking. They will be safe tonight.
Whilst poking about on one of the quarry walls I became aware of a constant buzzing noise. Wasps were flying about, and there in front of me was the biggest wasps’ nest I’ve ever seen, over a foot high. Time to retreat.
I could hear rustling in the ferns behind me all evening and when I looked some movement in the vegetation and the occasional squeak, but no clue as to what was in there. I was bouldering on the north facing wall of Sweden Quarry, which gave shade from the hot sun, even so I was sweating profusely, we are just not accustomed to temperatures in the high 20s. The quarry hosts quite a bit of bird life – blackbird, wren, robin, chiffchaff, blackcap, mallard and no doubt many more. Barn owls nested earlier in the season. It is a great place to sit and take in the ambience such as it is with old tyres, fencing and rotting trees cut down in the plantation a few years ago. The pool at the bottom has shrunk greatly in this recent drought.
I was about to leave when I spotted something yellow out of the corner of my eye, in fact, there were two yellow blobs in the grass. The squeaking became louder as Mother Duck led her brood out of hiding down to the drying up pool at the base of the quarry. The other four chicks were brown and well camouflaged, it was the two yellow ones that gave the game away. I grabbed my phone for a quick shot, but then realised they were out to play for a while, so I was able to retrieve my camera and sit down to enjoy their display. Mother floated quietly whilst the chicks darted about exploring, exercising their legs and no doubt eating the odd green morsel. After some time, Mother decided they had had enough and marched them back into the undergrowth to hide away for the night. I hope the ducklings survive but fear for the yellow ones who are all too obvious to any predator. I will report back on further sightings over the next week. (Still six there two days later) So how unusual are yellow ducklings? Mallards, Muscovy and domestic ducks have occasional yellow ducklings, many of these develop into white ducks – so we will see.
The joys of living in the Ribble Valley on an evening like this.
I first looked into this large hole in the ground, hidden in the forest on Longridge Fell, many years ago and climbed a few routes as well as some boulder problems. I called it Sweden because of the fir trees. Time passes and one’s attention goes elsewhere, but I never forgot. With travel restricted, the popular bouldering venue Craig Y Longridge became even more crowded at times, so I stayed away. I remembered this place though, the trees have been felled and the plantation has become popular with dog walkers. I mentioned it in a post a while back. Well since then on sunny evenings I’ve been visiting this place, cuckoos are calling across the way, mallard ducks are paddling in the pool below and barn owls have successfully nested in the higher parts of the quarry. The Ribble Valley is a distant view away. Magic and memories.
Looking back through my photos from 25years ago, I have found pictures of the walls up here with dotted lines drawn to show the problems I had succeeded on. The clean wall I’m now revisiting used to have JOKER in large red letters painted right across it, that has faded completely. And now the joke is on me, as I’m finding all the problems far harder than I remember. Tempus fugit!
I used to climb here with Tony, Pete and dear old Dor. Everything was fun and everything was possible. They are all dead now, and I miss them so.
The Old Man of Hoy is a famous sea stack off the coast of Hoy in the Orkney Isles. As a climb it was first ascended by Chris Bonington, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey in 1966. Apparently it could collapse at any time.
We weren’t up there today, that would be stretching the travel limits. No we were still in deepest Lancashire returning to Troy Quarry after many years for some climbing. Apart from the rhyming name the only other resemblance to Hoy is a stack, without any sea, in the middle of the quarry.
The parking area has been severely limited because of the influx of walkers disturbing the locals in these strange times. Of course, we travelled in four separate cars, so you can see how quickly every space becomes blocked. None of us could remember the approach into the quarry, there used to be some large concrete buildings by the track, all now looked quite sylvan. There are some good walks that traverse the hillsides in this upper part of Rossendale. But today we were here for the climbing.
The quarry is large, spreading 30 – 40ft walls of gritstone around a pond. Canada Geese entertained us all afternoon with their calls and territorial chasing across the water. We made a beeline to the South Walls where there were easier climbs. Another pair of climbers were already in situ but soon moved on. They were top roping either for safety or inexperience. We had many years of experience between the four off us, too many to count but were a little rusty. I, for one, don’t want to see the inside of a casualty department, so we opted for top roping too, something I wouldn’t have contemplated in the past – where is the adventure in that. Times change.
After a bit of faffing with slings we had a top rope set up above the Siamese Twins. These are cracks in a steep slab. We climbed the right-hand variation with help of the left crack and the left route with the help of the right crack. Who’s watching?
Rod high on Left Siamese Twin.
Dave in a similar position.
The rock was clean with positive holds, a fine gritstone apparently used in the past for pavement flags in the northwest cities.
A large flake in the centre of the Siamese wall had new cracks running down it, a hollow sound and movement when pulled in certain directions. Water and frost affect the rock formations in these quarries and every so often lumps, small and large, detach themselves. You just hope you are not clutching one when that happens. This particular flake is already doomed. We squeezed in a slightly harder climb to the left but again transgressed into those cracks.
Fred has the largest lunch box.
I haven’t seen my climbing partners for many months, so we had a good catch up chat over lunch. The sun was pleasantly warm reminding us of many hours playing on the rock walls in these Lancashire holes in the ground. God’s own rock is over the border in Yorkshire, but we are fiercely defensive of our sometimes grotty venues.
We moved the rope along to above a great looking flake line, Stacked Deck, which we all enjoyed lay backing up.
Dave starting the lay back of Stacked Deck.
Alongside was the classic route, Rapunzel. Halfway up is a barred window from which Rapunzel would have let down her hair. The fable around this story is more complicated than I remember. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapunzel
Rod approaching Rapunzel’s window.
Suffice to say she didn’t let down her hair for me today, and I was lowered to the ground to lick my wounds. Ah, well it is the first time I’ve been on a rope this year. Things can only get better – or is that a fairy tale?
We, us old farts, used to climb with a fit young lad who shall remain nameless. Regular evening visits to Lancashire quarries in the summer months provided good sport. He was pushing his grade, as a young man should, but often was lowered to the ground defeated by a high crux move which one of us old timers could easily demonstrate to him. Chastened he would apply himself to the next problem with often the same result.
It was only in the pub afterwards that an analysis of the evenings climbing took place. Typically, we focused on his failings and inevitably came to the conclusion he was carrying too much weight. This lead to, and I apologise as from now, describing him as a ‘fat bastard’. We did have his interests at heart as this insulting banter resulted in him disappearing, dieting and training to re-emerge the next week to climb as good if not better than us.
Someday I will write about climbing trips with this youth in question to places far from Lancashire and the resulting adventures. I will of course need his permission first.
Anyhow, today the boot, or climbing shoe, is on the other foot. I used to climb in a quarry high on Longridge Fell hidden in the conifer plantations – I called it Sweden for no other reason than the trees. Only I and a few others knew about it, and slowly it became overgrown as these places do. But it was there at the back of my mind and when social distancing became the norm, and I was wary of climbing in crowded Craig Y Longridge …
A crowded Craig y Longridge.
… I revisited Sweden.
Basically it is a large hole in the ground. The walls tend to be damp and uninviting but on an upper level there is a clean wall getting the sun all day. A few days getting rid of the vegetation that had encroached in the intervening years, and I was ready to try the problems that I had recorded 25 years ago. Armed with my tatty guide from then I began to repeat the problems. They were much harder than I remember and also apparently much higher despite the use of a modern day crash mat.
Two places hidden away in Bowland. I’ve driven through Easington but don’t remember end of the road Harrop Fold.
I planned to include Easington Fell into the round so I parked up at the top of the Waddington Fell road. I was the only car there on a misty morning and I hoped visibility would improve – it didn’t.
By the road side up here is Walloper Well. Jessica Lofthouse (1976) described the place.
“In the days of horse and pedestrian traffic none passed Walloper Well without stopping to ‘quaff the clear crystal.’ Long ago, hill men, hunters, forest wardens and farmers off to Clitheroe markets and fairs, pedlars, lead miners from the nearby workings, all met here. The name is thought-provoking. Why Walloper? From a word meaning a ‘fresh bubbling spring’, which this is, fresh from the moorside into stone troughs. Age, wartime army practice and vandalism of 1974 made renewal of the trough necessary, but the flow has been constant. One must drink, just as one throws pennies into the Roman fountain, to ensure one comes back again.”
So nothing to do with the frequently told story [very nonPC] about the old man and his wife
Today there is no flowing water, I don’t know if this is the permanent situation.
After that disappointment I set off across the fell and immediately lost the path, if there ever was one. The ground was rough, what I call reedy walking, and you never knew if your feet would hit land or water.
Persistence paid off and I spotted a cairn from where vague trods aimed to the barn shown on the map. From the hillside I could just make out Newton-in-Bowland, Easington and Dunnow Hall.
I was now on pleasant grasslands though this meant a herd of cows with accompanying bull. I was rather circumspect as was he. A teacher has just been killed near Richmond by cows.
Anyhow I arrived in to Easington unscathed and had time to look at the four dwellings making up the hamlet. The most interesting appeared to be the Manor House.
The Manor House.
I now followed the diminutive Easington Brook for a mile or so passing Broadhead Farm to Harrop Hall. On my approach to the latter the farmer shooed his herd of cows plus a large bull across the field for me to pass, a service I don’t normally receive. I realised at the remote Hall that I had visited before with a friend from Grindleton maybe 40 years ago to collect two kittens, Bonnie and Barnie I subsequently christened them. They were an adventurous pair climbing in through upper windows of my house and even venturing to the pub on the corner where customers fed them and returned them at closing time.
Harrop Lodge was next, another building with interesting features including a Venetian window in the gable end and other bits of architecture.
This stone footbridge took me into the wrong field from which it was difficult to extricate myself.At Harrop Gate I came out onto a little road through an isolated metal kissing gate.
200 yards up this road was Harrop Chapel with benches outside for my lunch stop. The chapel was built in the early 1820’s and has been in continual use since. It ceased to be Methodist in 1969 and now holds Evangelical services.
Refreshed I strolled up the road to the hamlet of Harrop Fold, only half a dozen neat dwellings. Of particular note is a large white house , an original C17th Lancashire Longhouse which provided accommodation for the family at one end and the livestock at the other. On the other side is the Manor House of a similar age.
So far the walking had been very rural but now I headed back up the fell past a barn and into Grindleton Fell Forest where my troubles started. The paths didn’t go where I thought they should and didn’t correspond to my map. The trees limited visibility and the mist descended. I walked in many directions without finding my intended onward route. I was glad to hit upon a track heading out of the forest to join a lane prominent on the map. It was now easy to follow across the fell until I came out onto open moor once more. Up here the views back down to the Ribble Valley must be stunning on a clear day. Ahead of me was the vague outline of Waddington Fell with its mast acting as a beacon to aim for. By now it was cold and damp and I was glad to reach my car. I’d clocked up 10 miles.
Not many of you will have explored Harrop – ‘the valley of the hare’
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be” Douglas Adams.
After a late breakfast Sunday, I set off to Slaidburn for a gentle walk around Stocks Reservoir. I was enjoying the drive over with the roof down listening to the West Indians scoring too freely in the Test match. As I came over the rise on the road up from Cow Ark there in front of me were the Three Peaks of Yorkshire, a view I always thrill to. Out of the corner of my eye were the Bowland Fells, vying for attention. I was aware of the half-hidden valley of Croasdale and realised I hadn’t visited it for a year or so. A quick change of objective and I found myself parked up in that little pull off at the very top of Woodhouse Lane. I pondered on how many times I’ve parked there over the years especially in the early years of this century when we were developing the bouldering potential of the Bull Stones higher up the valley. We would race up the track to climb all-day and then most nights come down in the dark, we knew every twist of the route.
Of course, we were not the first to come this way. The Romans forged a road over the fells, probably adopting ancient ways, linking Ribchester with Carlisle. Some of the culverts on this The Hornby Road date back to the Romans. Later there was trade between the Monasteries of Yorkshire and the coast, wool one way and salt the other, hence the other name for this route, Salter Fell Track. A metal marker on the track commemorates the 400th year anniversary of the Lancashire Witches being dragged this way to their trial and execution in Lancaster.
It was a Lancashire Witches Walk waymark on the fell gate that reminded me of probably my last visit here whilst undertaking that excellent way. At the time a group of workmen were repairing a section of road just past the bridge. A gully was undermining the road and an expensive shoring up exercise was underway. That has been completed and the repairs extended up what was a very rough section of road by resurfacing with limestone chippings which look out of place in this gritstone environment. No doubt this has all been done using taxpayers funds and yet the only people to benefit from it are the shooting fraternity who have a lodge further up the track.
Few people walk up this valley and today the only people I see are motorcyclists who are able to travel right through from Slaidburn to Hornby a classic moorland journey. The man himself, A Wainwright described it as the best moorland walk in England although I’m not sure what he would have had to say regarding the motorcycles.
My more modest aim today is just to reach the gate near the summit and then traverse back along the hillside visiting the Bull Stones. I’ve brought my binoculars along as this area used to be a good place to see Hen Harriers, but alas no more due to persecution from ‘hands unknown’. Many of you will know the story of Bowland Beth. So I don’t see harriers but I do spot a pair of kestrels, some stonechats and more excitedly two ring ouzels.
I sit under a favourite boulder and eat some lunch whilst gazing down the valley with Pendle in the far distance, there is not a soul in sight. The only sounds are the occasional bleating of sheep and the cries of seagulls which come inland here.
I continue along the edge of the rocks, past the spring of sparkling water where I know I can refresh myself even in the middle of summer. Around the corner, the continuation of the rocks is at a higher level and I make my way slowly up to them. I’m aiming for one particular group where there is a 50-degree slabby rock which we called ‘super slab’ on our first visit, I’m inclined to overdramatize but it is super. Perfect clean steep rock, rippled slightly with the odd pebble for a finger hold.
Somebody produced a video featuring this slab so you can see what I’m going on about –
After lovingly fingering the start of the climb, I don’t have my rock shoes with me, I make my way to the end of the rocks, the Calf Stones.
Down below is that massive stone trough carved from an in-situ boulder. Time for another sit and contemplative look down the valley towards Pendle. I have time to examine the minutiae of the lichen growing into the gritstone. I then head down to pick up a hidden sheep trod in the bracken that I know will take me across the rough hillside to join an estate track down to the ford. It had been at the back of my mind all afternoon as to whether I would be able to safely cross the stream here. One winter it was impossible and we had to make quite a detour to find a way across. Today, despite the recent rainfall and the stream flowing quickly, I seemed to just hop across.
Just follow the path.
Back on the main track, I had time to reminisce on times staying in the barn visible down below. It has been overhauled by United Utilities partly to preserve the unique sheepfolds that surround it. Once with my eldest grandson, we had two nights there and were treated to hen harrier flypasts both evenings as we sat by a campfire eating baked beans and sausages, magic.
From up here, I could see in the distance a small section of Stocks reservoir where I could well have been. Another time.
The government’s [they now try to label it as the NHS’s for scientific kudos] Tell, Track and Trace scheme came into being yesterday although they forgot to tell most of the volunteer trackers. The pilot scheme of smartphone tracking, used by most other countries for accuracy, failed in the Isle of White and is nowhere near ready despite us being promised it would be underway mid-May.
So we are left with a ragtail plan for the good British public to have a test if they feel unwell with Covid19 symptoms and then tell a phone operator the names and addresses of all their contacts, as if they would know.. Those contacts will then have to voluntarily self-isolate almost without realising why. It won’t work.
At the same time, despite there being a high incidence of viral infection still, we are being allowed to meet up with more family and friends. Social distancing of course in the garden and using the loo when you’ve had too much to drink. This for some reason starts on Monday, why tell us before a hot sunny weekend when half the population will take it into their own hands and interpretations tonight.
How long before the second peak? We are already leading most of the world in deaths per capita.
With that background, I drove cautiously up the fell this evening when it had cooled down. I expected I would have the little quarry up on Kemple End to myself for some safe low-level bouldering. And so I brought my brain into action with climbing moves I’ve not executed for months. The very act of climbing concentrates the mind to the exclusion of most other incidental thoughts. The trees on the quarry floor have grown and leafed up. There was bird song everywhere, though I couldn’t identify any. I was isolated from the rest of the world and its troubles for a short spell.
After my short-lived exertions, I climbed back up and viewed the Ribble Valley with Clitheroe and Pendle Hill prominent. My photo of this tranquil scene heads the post.
I then drove back to reality.
As I write this the sounds and smells of barbeques drift through my window.
A lot of people are ‘climbing the walls’ with all these Covid19 isolation rules. I feel particular sympathy for those families living in cramped accommodation with maybe no open space to relax in. Having a garden is a great advantage, I’m blessed with mine.
Following my successful backpackingtrip at Easter, I thought it was time for a bit of climbing particularly as the weather has been so good the rock will be in excellent condition. I’m lucky in having Craig Y Longridge just up the road and normally go bouldering there most days when I’m fit. It is a unique venue with over 300ft of overhanging rock in the main up to about 15 – 20 ft high. There are over a hundred problems and many more variations to play on until your strength gives out. As everywhere else, due to the coronavirus, climbing is banned for the foreseeable future. Social distancing is difficult and any accident there would place even more burden on our emergency services.
Craig Y Longridge on a rather poor day but you get the idea of how steep it is.
Better weather – struggling climber. Oct 2018.
Not to be deterred I’ve some walls at home. The walls of my stone-built house offer edges which replicate the holds found on natural gritstone. Most of the walls now have plants and shrubs close or growing up them. However, the sidewall adjacent to my drive is free to explore after a little trimming of the honeysuckle on the corner.
So out comes the bouldering mat and I catch the morning sun. There are several variations up this bit of wall and one can make it as easy or hard as necessary. To be honest I’ve done so much gardening these last weeks that my dodgy shoulder is playing up so I have to go careful. Still, it is good fun and gives me some exercise every morning. Note the right foot on the window ledge is cheating.
The bouldering mat below me should ensure that I don’t twist an ankle or worse and end up in casualty, I’m not actually getting far off the ground as you can see. I do get some funny looks from passers-by.
After a few weeks I should have worked out lots of ways up this bit of wall and may have to start on the other side of the house but that would require some extensive ‘gardening’ to remove the shrubs.
So yet more simple diversions to help pass the days and keep fit at the same time bringing some normality into my life.
PS. The news today is that Joe Brown the famous working-class Manchester climber has died, aged 89. He was a climbing legend and many of you will have heard of him.
Joe was a true pioneer of rock climbing particularly active in the 1950s and 1960s when he pushed standards. His ascents were as varied in style as they were in location and ranged from the gritstone outcrops of the Peak District, the mountains of Britain to 8000m peaks in the Himalaya. He achieved TV fame with live outside broadcasts and earned the nickname ‘the human fly‘. The personality and talent he possessed only come along every few generations or so.
A vigorous day visiting old haunts with wide-ranging views.
The Duke of Devonshire, Bolton Abbey Estate, owns a large area of grouse moorland NE of Skipton. Confusingly Barden Moor to the west of the Wharfe and Barden Fell to the east. I’ve spent many days on these moors mainly on their edges climbing on Rylstone Crag, Crookrise, Eastby and Simon’s Seat. I felt it was time to revisit and make a walk of it across the moors. The Pieman doesn’t get out much so when he phoned suggesting a walk this week I gladly agreed and decided on this walk on his local hills. I cajoled JD into the party to show him a new area. Wednesday was the day and the forecast was for improving weather, but first we had to get rid of the tail end of Hurricane Dorian. Early morning and the rain was still heavy, I even had a phone call from Skipton querying opting out but I’m made of sterner stuff. Miraculously as we drove across the skies cleared and the sun came out, there was a sneaky breeze when we met in Rylstone.
Rylstone with its duck pond and church; the famed ladies who produced the original nude Calendar; the inspiration for Wordsworth’s 1808 poem ‘The White Doe of Rylstone’ and above the village Rylstone Cross. The latter was visible on the fell as we set off but it would be several hours before we stood alongside it. Originally a stone figure, the ‘Rylstone Man’, changed to a wooden cross to commemorate the ‘Peace of Paris’ in 1814. This had to be replaced several times until the wooden structure was replaced by a stone one in 1997. I remember a wooden cross held by a metal frame from early trips to Rylstone Crag.
A bridleway climbs away from the road and was followed easily into the heart of the moor. We chatted away and hardly noticed the increasing tailwind. The heather, unfortunately, was past its best. Views started to open up to familiar hills but putting a name to them often eluded us. Simon’s Seat across Wharfedale was prominent. Upper Barden Reservoir came into sight and veered off on a track to it. Sitting on an ancient stone gatepost out of the wind we had an early snack. Across the dam was an old waterboard house, we speculated on its value – isolation and views against accessibility.
The estate has signed most of the tracks and we changed course once again heading back to the moor’s northern edge. Another small reservoir was passed and we focused on an old chimney up the slope, this with some obvious old pits suggested past mining activity.
As we reached the edge I regret not diverting a short distance to look at Numberstones End, a small gritstone crag.
By now the wind was almost gale force and difficult to walk into, JD’s hat became the focus of attention as it somehow stuck to his head. We took our second break in a beaters’ shelter, the shooters more commodious lodge being firmly closed. We gazed across upper Wharfedale to Grassington, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside, Grimworth Reservoir with Nidderdale behind. The Three Peaks were hidden in cloud.
Refreshed we commenced battle with the wind as we bypassed Rolling Gate Crags and made a beeline towards an obvious Obelix, Cracoe War Memorial erected to honour the dead from the Great War with a plaque added for the 2nd WW. It was difficult to stand up on the summit because of the wind and we set off down the ridge towards Rylstone Crag and its Cross. Now below was the limestone country around Cracoe and the contrasting greens of the Winterburn Valley.
A visit to the base of the main face of Rylstone Crag was obligatory to gaze up at President’s Slab, Dental Slab and all those other climbs that have given me so much pleasure in the past. Last climbed six years ago.
The cross was another gale swept vantage point now looking towards Pendle.
A couple of boulders took our attention and we played around trying to stand up in the hole or reach for an edge, only long-limbed JD was successful with the latter. We reflected on ageing bodies and ‘the last of the Summer wine’ as we trotted down the hill back to the car, getting out of the wind and enjoying the warm sunshine.
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.
Haven’t much to report since arriving back from France, how can I be jet-lagged after an hour and a half flight.
The fields opposite my house are being cut by a flotilla of agricultural vehicles, what a contrast to the old days of hay cutting that I was involved with as a youngster.
The weather here has been predictably hot and dry so I’ve been out bouldering on Longridge Fell at three of my favourite crags – Kemple End, Crowshaw and of course Craig Y Longridge. These three give me choices of sun or shade at varying times of the day so I can escape the sun if needed. Up at Kemple I ventured onto Hodder Buttress to solo the easy slabs and arriving at the top I was concerned about some loose flakes above the climbs, I had great fun trundling these onto the quarry floor thus making the routes safer. Over on the main wall I found that I was struggling on some of the traverses I normally cruised, I blamed this on lack of confidence since my enforced layoff. The view over the Ribble Valley this evening was splendid.
At Crowshaw I was completing a topo of the problems to the left of the main buttress. The quarry bowl here is a delight as the heather starts to bloom and the bilberries ripen. I am content on an evening just to sit here and listen to the bird song.
After these two backwaters Craigy is hardcore bouldering, 100m of overhanging rock, with a regular clientele. I have a section at the far end that is less severe and I can do circuits on relatively good jugs to keep fit.
Whilst up on the fell I popped into Cardwell Quarry where climbing is now banned because of unsociable behaviour by some ‘climbers’. I was surprised to see that not too much vegetation has returned in the lean years. I must go and have another word with the farmer to try and restore climbing here.
I was out in the Ribble Valley today and popped into Witches Quarry. A secluded limestone venue where you drive into the field and park conveniently under the crag! The rock was in good condition and I traversed a little and then soloed the amenable Cracklap, I’m sure this used to be VD. Strangely a gooseberry was growing from the start of the crack.
Over coffee I was plotting a route from Brock Bottoms when the phone rang. it was Dave asking if I fancied a walk on Longridge Fell. I couldn’t say no. I’ll put the river walk on hold.
I’ve not seen much of Dave since my PMR episode put rock climbing on hold, and anyway he is abroad most of the time. A quick turn around and we met up at Cardwell House car park at 10am. He was not familiar with this western end of the fell so I had hoped to give him a good tour. We caught up on our recent relevant excursions. He has just had a successful three week’s climbing trip to the south of France, I’ve mainly been at the doctors. As I waited at the car park I tried out the panoramic mode on my camera with the Bowland Fells over Chipping Vale.
He seemed to be enjoying the route I took trough the forest until we hit an area of tree felling across the track, the next 200m was tedious to say the least. He likened it to anti tank defence terrain from the 2nd WW.
We eventually emerged onto a familiar track up towards the summit but a blocked path forced us onto another rough section.
The views from the trigpoint were exceptional but we didn’t linger as we had already taken much longer than anticipated.
The way back to the car traversed the fell overlooking the Vale of Chipping again on a track he had never used.
It was good to catch up.
The weather was so good that I decamped to Craig Y Longridge on the way home for a bit of bouldering and more catching up with friends who were there, it was busy.Just across the road on a small reservoir a pair of great crested grebes have set up home in reeds within sight of the road. The female is sitting on three eggs so far and the male fussing around extending the nest.
One seldom meets another person in upper Croasdale but today the Salter Fell track was busy with contractors making repairs to a steep section of the road above New Bridge. The road, also known as Hornby Road, dates from Roman times – Watling Street that ran from Manchester to Carlisle. It was along this road that the Lancashire Witches were taken from Clitheroe to Lancaster and in fact the last time I walked it was following a long distance walk called the Lancashire Witches Walk from Barrowford to Lancaster. Back to today I was with JD, both of us needing some exercise. A lorry was taking stone up to the repairs and the driver told us of the cost to Lancs. County Council who apparently are obliged to maintain the highway, for whose benefit I’m not sure. An awful lot of potholes around Longridge could have been repaired for less. The repairs were extensive and thorough but not lot of work seemed to getting done today. More stone was being extracted from the higher quarry which in the past had been used for the construction of Stocks Reservoir dam in the thirties.
Track repairs with one of the Lancashire Witches Walk tercet waymarkers.
It took longer than usual to reach the top gate where we left the track and headed uphill through the heather. Looking westwards are views of upper Whitendale and remote Wolfhole Crag, this is wild Bowland country. I found the tiny sheep trod that traversed to the first group of Bull Stone boulders where we had our refreshments. The day was rather dull but there was no wind and silence prevails up here. Looking down the wide valley of Croasdale a misty Pendle rose in the distance. I had resisted bringing up my rock shoes but now regretted it as the conditions were perfect. Big boots would not have stuck to the friction slabs.
Sketch of the same scene from the Bowland Beth book mentioned below.
We wandered on below more rocks, all bringing back memories to me, though JD had never been here. So it was a great pleasure to show him the massive stone trough carved on the hillside.
We found the little trod heading down valley and at the ford we decided to continue down rough marshland to look at the bothy and surrounding sheep-pens. About ten years ago I spent a couple of nights here with my teenage grandson whilst we explored the surrounding fells. In those days Hen Harriers were a common sight on these Bowland fells which were an important breeding ground for these beautiful birds. Things have gone downhill since then with more and more persecution of raptors on grouse moors where the shooting lobbies run roughshod. I have just been reading a little book about the short life of Bowland Beth, born near this spot. A thoughtful analysis of the plight of wild life on shooting estates.
Bowland Beth. The life of an English Hen Harrier. David Cobham. William Collins.
The bothy was unlocked but the flagged floor had been soiled by animals. It did not look an attractive proposition for an overnight stay now, but would soon clean up.
Onwards down the valley with a few stream crossings and then we climbed back up the road passing on the way the remains of the House of Croasdale, a 17th century farmhouse built on the site of an ancient hunting lodge. It would have witnessed the witches being taken across the fells.
Remains of House of Croasdale.
An interesting circuit as usual, although a little sunshine would have helped with the photos.
Anyone who has been following my posts this year or anyone searching ‘climbing’ will have noticed there has been no climbing. For various reasons I haven’t done a route for the first time in 40 – 50 years.* My climbing friends probably think I’ve died. This was brought home to me the other day when I happened to be in south Preston with one of my now ‘retired’ climbing partners.
“I think we are near Denham Quarry” I mentioned, “let’s go and have a look in”
Easier said than done as we drove arround in a maze of forgotten narrow lanes and kept crossing and recrossing the motorway. All of a sudden Holt Lane appeared and the name rang a bell, sure enough a short distance down the lane the familiar car park appeared and there was the quarry.
And there was that striking clean quarry face with the obvious groove line of ‘Mohammed’
In we went and peered up the classic groove which had a few chalk marks on it. When did we last climb this – one for the history books. Its real title is, wait for it, Mohammed the Mad Monk of Moorside Home for Mental Misfits. What’s that all about?
Moving right under the main face other routes were recalled, most of them scary on small holds and poor gear. We survived.
And there was that deep pool, with unknown monsters in its depths, and the lovely soloable Splash Arete above it. Memories.
Back home I reflected that I probably would be struggling on those routes now but my enthusiasm was fired and on a sunny afternoon I’m up at Craig y Longridge traversing around on familiar territory at the easy far end. The crag is bathed in warm sunshine and I’m the only one here so I can laze around as much as possible. I can do the moves but my hands have become soft and soon my skin is protesting, enough.
* PS. The following morning I had a brief visit up to Kemple End and soloed a couple of short routes to break the year’s zero statistics.
Two experienced locals, JD and I, were taking ‘Batesieman’ and his dog Pixie for an exploratory walk over Longridge Fell. It was a perfect day, sunny and warm, with good visibility in all directions. We were lost [disorientated] in a field without a map and no obvious signage. I can’t really blame JD as he had just appeared on the scene from an earlier walk clutching a few wild strawberries, nowhere as good as the raspberries we found later, and agreed to accompany us further. For a while, I had wanted to visit Higher Deer House, marked prominently on the map. It turned out to be an unoccupied and undistinguished farmhouse in the middle of nowhere on the south side of Longridge Fell, The surrounding pastures were full of cows, calves and the occasional scary bull. This area had once been a medieval deer park on the Shireburn Estate long before the establishment of Stoneyhurst College.
We had started off walking up Longridge Fell on the track past Green Thorn Farm and onto the ridge at a clearing with great views over Bowland and also the Yorkshire Three Peaks. There has been a lot of forest clearing in the last few years because of the fungus affecting the spruce, but it is amazing to see the regeneration of small trees occurring on the open ground – are these commercially viable or disease-resistant? In front of us was the mighty Pendle Hill. The forest track brought us out at Kemple End where a compulsory visit to the quarry was taken, the site of Batesie and my exploration a decade ago, the routes don’t get a lot of traffic.
Onwards through the complex of houses at Kemple End. The Almshouses built here in the 17th century were moved and reconstructed in Hurst Green after the Second World War. I think of this as an amazing endeavour and would like to know more of their history.
We had followed a sunken track which I’ve always thought of as an old sledge way for transporting stone from the quarries, but I now wonder was part of the deer park boundary. Once orientated we passed the deer house and wandered down to the footbridge over the hidden Dean Brook. Then up to join the bridleway to Greengore an interesting medieval hunting lodge of the Shireburn estate, noticeable are the buttresses and mullioned windows.
The bridleway continues up past Crowshaw House to arrive at the fell road where we had started. JD went home with his strawberries for tea.
All that remained was to show Batesie Crowshaw Quarry, the latest bouldering venue on Longridge Fell. He was impressed. Pixie wasn’t.
Here’s a map to show you where we went. A convivial afternoon stroll.
Several days have been sunny and cold but windless – perfect for a spot of bouldering at Craig y Longridge. There have been a few more brave souls out on the rock. The crag is owned and managed by the BMC [thankfully for now this acronym has outlasted the suggested change to Climb Britain] and the climbing fraternity have done us proud, with no antisocial behaviour or littering. However at the parking spot some ‘part time builder’ has found it easier to dump his rubbish in the road than take a trip to the tip. Happy New Year.
I noticed the above whilst cycling past on a circuit of Longridge Fell roads, much harder than the relatively level Guild Wheel. Thankfully I was alone, I was so out of breath conversation would have been impossible.
Back to the Guild Wheel I was on it again New Years Day, this time walking part of it with a friend who was plotting a short walk in the Fernyhalgh area for his monthly walking group. We found a decent dry circuit with plenty of interest. Passing on route at Ladyewell the old Fernyhalgh School building [now a private day nursery] – my children attended there in the 70s when it was still the village primary, only to be closed against local opposition. There is still evidence of Boys and Girls separate entrances. Nearby is a memorial to local lads lost in WW1, quite an ornate cross for the five.
Ladyewell Nursery. Wikipedia.
With the same friend a circuit of the Longridge Fell tracks was completed on New Years Eve, we were glad to be in the trees out of the cold wind. The only other people met were dog walkers. A few of the poorer days have been spent at Preston Climbing Wall in a vain attempt to steal some fitness from the season.
The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence. Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.
Nesting saddle bag.
Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here, I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.
A cold Craigy.
So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.
Since I last did a new problem up here https://bowlandclimber.com/2015/09/01/what-have-you-done-today/ I’ve been trying a traverse line on the far left-hand wall, hands on a sloping top ledge and intermittent footholds below. I always seem to be on this problem just before I go off on a walking holiday, and I’m worried about my ankles if I fall off. So today I seek moral and physical [moving the pad] help from one of my oldest climbing partners, Dor, who now unfortunately doesn’t partake. I start on the easy bit, climbing up a flake to reach the traverse. A couple of damp hand holds lead left to a large foot ledge before the committing moves up to the highest point. From here I can use a couple of decent footholds as I hand traverse on slopers. There is a section where you have to smear to make progress and I repeatedly chicken out and I skittle back, all good warming up. Frustrated with my progress and aware of my spotter’s commitment, I try again maybe four times with the same retreating result. So forget about moving the pad – place it further left and go for it. Good left hand whilst my right foot is on a hold, left foot on a smear, slap across and down with the right hand, smear both feet and then stretch to a left foothold and follow with the hands and it is done.
End of the line.
“Even if you’re old and grey
you still got something to say” Traveling Wilburys.
Deganwy to Rhos. Round the Great Orme and over the Little.
I thought today’s post would read – ‘walked round the Orme in rain and mist’
Well for the first hour or so that was the case and I was soaking by the time I stopped for a rest and was thankful for a coffee in the cafe.
Conway Mountain seen across the estuary before the rain.
Llandudno West beach – how many memorial seats do you need?
When I reappeared the rain had stopped for the day so I started to enjoy myself and see the surroundings. Limestone cliffs above and below, I was searching out climbing lines and spotting mountain goats. Eventually found both.Near the end/beginning of the road there is a cave called Parisella’s [named after an ice cream parlour] where hard hard bouldering problems abound and always dry! It must be nice to be good enough to be sponsored. I digress. Now for some history …
Not long after …The pier is next to the fading Grand Hotel but the rest of Llandudno is thriving, ‘No Vacancy’ signs everywhere. It was busy on the prom…… my best advice is to catch a bus to Little Orme.
For some reason the North Wales Path misses out the summit of Little Orme, a great mistake. It was one of the best viewpoints yet.
There was only another lady and her daughter [locals] up here and they were lost and panicking, I walked down with them. The 5yr old asked where I had been in the world so I queried where she would like to go – Abergele was high on her horizon! I had other random conversations today – a couple on the beach told me they were searching for the perfect sea-washed stick for a perch for their pet gecko – a man fishing for mackerel off the beach but waiting for high tide 4hours hence [why didn’t he start later?] – another fisherman hoping to go out later for sea-trout, he always wanted to fish the Hodder near my home.
I managed to get lost also in a mining area on the edge of the mountain, till the salmon fisherman showed me the steep way down, which was in fact signed, the post top left.
The steep quarry.
Ended the day back on the prom at Rhos on Sea where I found the delightful St Trillo’s Chapel. its altar stands over a spring and was established in the 6th C but has been rebuilt many times. Services are still held for a congregation of six.