Category Archives: Bowland Fells.

BIVI ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

A unique experience.

I’ve been meaning to sleep up on Longridge Fell during this good weather but other things keep getting in the way. Made an effort last night before I disappear off to Scotland and arranging a late evening lift up the road was a great help. So at about 8.45pm I set off on the familiar track to the trig point. A few stragglers were wandering back down to the carpark and they wished me well. A few sheep looked at me strangely. The sun was already low and would go behind the Bowland Fells soon. I wasn’t going to see the sun setting over the sea at this time of year from up here, may have to have a night up on Fairsnape soon for that which would complete my trio of local fell bivis – including Beacon Fell.  [Memo to myself – better sleeping bag, camera as opposed to phone and a tripod.]  By the time I reached the top the sky was changing and the sun disappearing, I sat and watched with the three peaks clear to the east. A kestrel hovered right above me but soon flew off into the gloom leaving nothing but silence.

There was a cool breeze blowing from the north so I decided to go over the wall for a sheltered bivi spot and luckily found an almost level site yards from the trig point. I heard deer barking but none appeared. I was probably asleep by 10 but woke about one feeling decidedly chilly. I had my lightest sleeping bag and no spare clothes so couldn’t do much about it. There is little light pollution up here, a few lights down in Chipping, so the stars were clear, the moon was almost full. The next time I woke, about 4.45am, the sky was colouring over Yorkshire so I sat up and watched the changing display until the sun was fully up, 5.30am.  A lot of misty patches hung in the fields below and there was heavy condensation on my bivy bag suggesting the temperature had dropped considerably in the night. I managed an hour or so fitful sleep before packing up and walking home to the village just as it was coming to life. Another fine summer’s day in prospect highlighted by my night on the fell.

*****

THE HEAT GOES ON.

Beacon Hill, Grindleton Fell.

I’ve just eaten a punnet of cherries with a beer whilst watching Belgium beat Brazil in a World Cup  game . The lazy days of this summer are passing by and now we have Wimbledon and The Tour de France to distract us.

 The pieman and I met up at Chatburn earlier today. I was glad we made the effort. At one point when we were aimlessly wandering around in a field in the midday sun I questioned our sanity. We had descended from up high on Grindleton Fell and were aiming for the River Ribble but fences and obstructions were in our way giving rise to some scribbles on my route map below.

We had started off on an old lane out of Chatburn which when face to face with a massive limestone quarry took us down to the Ribble and along a concessionary path to the bridge. On the outskirts of Grindelton, a village worth exploring , we picked up a rising bridleway which passed by some interesting houses – Victorian Green Banks, Georgian White Hall and spacious and pretentious Cob House. The old Yorkshire expression ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ came to mind as we speculated on who lived in these expensive properties. Then we were in the rough country above an old abandoned yet evocative farm.

We skirted the forest and ended up on the rarely visited Beacon Hill with a trig point at 305m, high enough for me today. We took the opportunity to relax, eat lunch and look at the views over the wooded Ribble Valley to Pendle and northwards towards the ‘Three Peaks’. A group of teenagers were struggling up the hill towards us, all heavily laden and no doubt on a DofE course. The ones at the front were chatty but the tailenders obviously had no desire to be where they were.

Hazy Pendle.

We passed through more desirable properties, thankfully guarded by docile dogs, before our episode of being lost, hot and bothered. Soon we were on The Ribble Way which in these parts upstream has been cruelly diverted away from the river by landowners with angling interests. We enjoyed our stretch of the river however as we headed back to Grindleton bridge and as the river was so low we contemplated a shortcut wading across. Oyster catchers and ducks lazed about on the rocks in the heat of the sun.

We cooled down with an ice cream from the famous Hudson’s shop in Chatburn, it was good to catch up with the pieman and we made plans for future forays.

*****

BOWLAND AT ITS BEST.

Looking up past Dunsop Bridge into the heart of Bowland.

14th June 2018. UK weather: Storm Hector batters Britain with winds of up to 100mph.

The above headlines in today’s papers were not encouraging but delving a little deeper and being three brave fellows we arranged a walk. We being ‘the rock man’, JD and myself. The idea was to stay low and leave late morning to avoid the worst of the storm. Leaving late was easily accomplished as the rock man was late anyhow. We parked up near Leagram Estate above Chipping avoiding any overhanging suspect trees. There was no sign of the wind abating.

Entering a windy Leagram Park.

Country lanes were used to weave through the fields bordering the fells. More and more barns have been converted into desirable residences and expensive 4×4’s kept pushing us into the hedgerows. The public road to the remote Burnslack was reached and followed before cutting off on the rougher track across the base of the fells. This is open country and felt wild today with the wind. Lickhurst was the next farm complex with new developments. The tenant, who was one of the last remaining true farmers, apparently has recently died. I had a long conversation with him when I last passed when he was telling me of his plans for retirement, sad news.

Lickhurst Farm.

Moving on we crossed the footbridge and headed up onto limestone pastures. These looked very dry as we’ve had virtually no rain for six weeks. The track down to Dinkling Green was found. JD and I had recollections of vicious dogs chained up here which would suddenly jump out as you passed through the farmyard. None today as the farmsteads have been gentrified. A nice stretch alongside a brook and we arrived at Higher Fence Wood, the farm with all those wooden hen houses.The rooster cockerel was proudly parading in front of his hareem. Free range eggs were advertised for £1.50 a dozen but unfortunately the cupboard was bare.

We were now in limestone country and relying on the rockman’s expert knowledge. There were limestone outcrops and signs of quarrying everywhere. We lunched under a limestone rockface of a long abandoned quarry. There were signs of chalk on the rock from modern-day boulderers.

Our lunch spot.

By now the sun was getting a little stronger but the wind was still bitterly cold. Tracks took us to New Laund Farm above the Inn at Whitewell which can be reached across the Hodder on stepping stones. Today however we stayed high and went into secretive mode for a little trespassing into the woods to locate Fairy Holes Caves. Once found we explored using our phone torches which proved far better than the old flashlight. I saw crinoid fossils which I had missed on previous occasions. The location is recognised as a Bronze Age burial site, probably dating to around 1800 BC.

The Inn at Whitewell.

Forbidden land.

 

We scrambled out onto the public right of way to Fair Oak , this gives some of the best views down into the Hodder Valley in both directions as it crosses a small col. See title picture for view NE. and below for River Hodder and SE to Longridge Fell.

‘Scrambling out’

From here on we wandered past old farmsteads all in a state of modern repair, Delightful residences but all so remote from anywhere. The old bridleway down from Greystoneley was followed over the ford.

Towards the end of the walk I wanted to explore a footpath I’d never used and it turned out perfect. From an old limekiln and quarry we went cross-country, unfortunately missing a crucial footbridge, back into the Leagram Estate. Delightful walking under the Fairsnape Fells with views across to Longridge Fell. The wind was still blowing strong when we reached the car but had detracted little from a grand day out.

My ‘new path’

Fairsnape Fells.

Longridge Fell.

*****

ANOTHER SHORT WALK – LONGRIDGE FELL.

Looking to Bleasdale Fells.

The last time I came up here the ground was the boggiest that I could remember, tonight after what seems like weeks of good weather it was completely different. In fact it is as dry as I  can recall. The walk turned out to be short not like the last one because of an obstructed stile, but from too much summit chatting. The distant Bowland and Yorkshire views were a little hazy. There was very little bird life, a couple of skylarks and a cuckoo in the woods. The bracken was rapidly beginning to thrust up its green shoots. The heather has some way to go. Chipping Vale below looked very fertile with many fields being cut neatly for silage.

My first encounter was with a mountain biker at the summit cairn, conversation started politely but we soon moved on to many shared cycling experiences and adventures. He had a huge knowledge of past bikes but I trumped him with my previous ownership of a 1940’s Baines ‘Flying Gate’ cycle in my teens. An hour must have passed before he shot off down the track just as a local couple arrived at the trig puffing and panting. They are trying to improve on their time from the carpark as well as finding those little painted stones that are appearing everywhere. Talk now turned to the Bowland Fells and tracks so by the time I left there was no time really to complete my intended circuit. I just turned round and trotted back the way I’d come. Actually there was some degree of urgency introduced when I realised I’d left my wallet in full view on the passenger seat. The car and wallet were of course intact when I arrived back.

I should do this walk or its longer variant more often in the summer evenings and there’s no knowing whom I’ll meet and what information will be gleaned.

*****

A SOUTHERN CIRCUIT ON LONGRIDGE FELL.


I’ve been up Longridge Fell three times this week, all from different directions. This lack of originality is partially based on my reluctance to drive far, partly on the weather [torrential rain on alternate days put boggy Fairsnape out of the question] and mainly on my slow re-acquaintance with hilly country. Anyhow it is a great little fell, the most southerly named fell in the UK with the easy to remember 350m height.

Today, Thursday 5th April, was fantastic, you couldn’t have wished for a better Spring like day. Blue skies, no wind and warmish sun [that’s that round yellow thing in the sky]. Of course the paths were still muddy and slippy but that’s par for the course at this time of year in Lancashire. A few groups were out on longer rambles and the dog strollers were making the best of the day.

I parked at Higher Hodder Bridge and  tackled the steep Birdy Brow road head on, One gains height quickly and just past Kemple End the forest track leaves the road zigzagging into the trees. I was already sweating as the morning warmed up. The forest track on a day like this reminded me of walking through Southern Spain on the GR 7 where there is much forest. I was going to say ‘wish I was there now’ but on a day like this you can’t  beat Lancashire. A hidden little path through the trees brings one out at a lovely open viewpoint with the Bowland Fells full on, the frosty Yorkshire peaks off to the East and Chipping Vale at your feet,

Higher on the fell I came across forest workers hand planting thousands of spruce saplings in rough ground that had been felled a couple of years ago. These are disease resistant ones and I will watch their growth over coming years.

Knowing that the track was blocked ahead with fallen trees I again took to smaller paths through the trees some of which are old Scots Pines, an enchanting place. I’ve been known to bivy in this secret place with the bonus of deer wandering past in the night. Further on is the ‘wall path’ leading towards the summit.  Years ago this path was hardly visible but has become more used and hence more boggy, most of the wall that ran alongside it has been now used as infill for the path.

Once out in the open the white trig point was clearly seen ahead with more stunning views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. If I had kept walking down the ridge I would have been home in an hour but I had a circuit to complete so headed south on forest roads, with Pendle Hill dominant ahead above the Ribble Valley, to come out at the road above Crowshaw Quarry where I had a bite to eat in the sunshine.

The bridle way down past Green Gore to Hurst Green is very familiar but I realised I nearly always walk it in the opposite direction. One of my favourite places is Dean Brook as it descends off the fell and through old mill placements at Hurst Green. The bridge there is a great launching pad for poo sticks.

I came out at the Almshouses which somehow were brought down from Kemple End. The Bayley Arms pub seems to be closed so I carried straight across on Smithy Lane through muddy fields and into the grounds of Stoneyhurst College.

I took the private road to Hodder Court where I picked up the popular footpath alongside the Hodder river. This is a roller coaster of a path in the trees above the river as I headed back to  Higher Hodder Bridge. A delight with the fast flowing Hodder below, emerging Wild Garlic under my feet and expectant bird song in the air.

That was 5 hours of my life well spent.

*****

 

What is happening to our birds of prey?

I subscribe to the blog below. I realise that at times they have their own agenda directed against the ‘landed classes’ but each week there are reports of bird persecutions. We in Bowland have a long history of the magnificent Hen Harriers declining in number over the grouse moors. Tagging of birds is now providing more evidence of their disappearances.

I would like to share the following for your attention…

 

“They can hide the bodies. They can hide the tags. But they can’t hide the pattern” (Dr Hugh Webster) RSPB Press release: ANOTHER SATELLITE-TAGGED GOLDEN EAGLE ‘DISAPPEARS’ IN INVERNESS-SHIRE Conservationists are concerned about the safety of a young pair of eagles after news emerged that another satellite-tagged golden eagle has disappeared in the northern Monadhliath […]

via Yet another golden eagle disappears on a Scottish grouse moor — Raptor Persecution UK

A BLEASDALE BABBLE.

The streams coming off the Bowland Fells were babbling, full of water, and we babbled, full of air, as we strolled round the tracks. The walk passed by pleasantly with all the chat and we occasionally glanced at the hills which a few days before had been plastered with snow but were now in Springlike condition.

I persuaded JD, of Canary Islands GR131 fame, to accompany me, he was hankering for the open fells – give me another week or so. When I phoned him early morning, a perfect bright sunny and dry one, he had just returned from a morning gym session so I was doubly grateful for his company.

I have described in greater detail variations of this walk several times before. Usually done in the winter when it provides a fairly solid surface to walk on, particularly important in this season’s exceptional wetness. The farmer we met on his quad bike described it as the wettest he had experienced, we could only take his word for that.

At the start a few parapenters were soaring above Parlick and a little further we spotted four buzzards doing there own soaring on the distance.

We walked right round the base of the fells  Parlick, Fairsnape, Holme House and Hazelhurst past farmhouses where hill sheep farming has changed little over the years, then on through the Bleasdale Tower estate to emerge onto the road leading to Oakenclough. There were hazy views over the Fylde from up here, a good place for a spot of lunch in the sunshine. Whilst I chewed on my banana JD tried to figure out how to open his tin of tuna which turned out not to have a ring pull – ah well he is on a diet.

Road walking took us past Tootle Hall which I remember was once a homely farm cafe serving chicken in the basket with chips, ham and eggs or a substantial afternoon tea. In the area in those days several farmers’  wives supplemented their incomes with meals in the family dining room. [There is one remaining in Ford Lane, Goosnargh – The Cottage. Go there soon if you wish to recreate eating out in the 60s and 70s. Its all gastro pubs now.]

Walking on past that wonderful beech hedge and we were back at the car within 3hours. A perfect babble and one I will no doubt repeat many time in future winters.

                                                              *****