Up on Longridge Fell we were doing OK until the guide, walk no 23 of Mark Sutcliffe’s book, said to take a jink right in the trees. We already had jinked right awhile back as the fallen trees from last year’s storm Eunice?, blocked our tracks. But others had come this way recently, in fact quite a path had developed. We bushwhacked on. For once, I wasn’t the leader, Phreerunner was running but not as phree as he thought.
When Martin (aka Phreerunner) had included in his Friday walks Longridge Fell I couldn’t refuse to accompany him. I secretly knew the problems ahead but didn’t want to spoil the fun, it’s not Cicerones fault. I thought it a good idea to bring JD into the mix for some local support.
We had left Hurst Green alongside the delightful Dean Brook with its bobbin making history. The stream bed was carved by the water into Daliesque shapes. Resisting the urge to take another photo of Greengore we move on and across fields I don’t usually travel. Lanes and then a boggy path brought us out onto the top ridge where a simple stroll led to the summit trig point, 350 m. The light on the Bowland Hills was flitting from one area to another, but the three peaks never put in a show. Time for coffee and snacks.
Shireburn Alms Houses.
The onward path disappears into a dark plantation, and already we start meeting obstructions. When I was up here early last year I found it impossible to make safe progress. It was slightly better today as Martin forged forward bent double to avoid the branches. We made it through to more open ground and then found with the use of our phones a path going in the right direction. It is fairly chaotic up here at present, a shame that the forestry workers can’t spare a day with a couple of chain saws to clear a way.
As we left Hurst Green earlier this morning we passed the Shireburn Alms Houses and I related as to how they were originally built higher up on the fell in the earlyC18th and subsequently moved stone by stone down into the village around 1946. Well now we were above their original site on the fell next to the ‘blue lagoon’ reservoir. It wasn’t blue today in the rather dull conditions. The foundations can still be seen if one looks around, we didn’t.
Across the road, over a wall and down some fields, the directions lacked clarity here. We ended up in someone’s garden with a couple of wild eyed dogs snapping at our heels. We escaped and found our way down a ravine, the correct stile now visible behind us. It always amazes me, and I’ve said it too many times, that landowners don’t put signage up through their property and maintain the stiles – it’s not asking too much. If you buy a country property you will be well aware of any rights of way coming through it. Time to start issuing fines, I know that will never happen.
We skirted around Stoneyhurst School, admiring the architecture and the long stately drive. I think this was all new for Martin, and I shall be interested in his write-up for the walk on his blog. Soup and rolls back at Chez BC completed an excellent ‘Friday Walk’ May meet up again when he moves his troops to Silverdale in a couple of weeks time, or should I make the effort and travel down to Cheshire for somewhere new?
I didn’t take many photos, it was all too familiar, or so I thought, and we were busy chatting.
I came across this temporary CCTV installation on my walk across the fields this morning. Notice how blue the sky is.
Placed in a field next to tracks leading to isolated farms and a back way into Ferraris Country Hotel. Four solar-powered cameras pointing around the compass. Have there been recent burglaries or fly tipping? I am sure it’s not to watch the animals or ramblers. Further enquiries are needed.
I was out for a short brisk walk in the countryside behind my house, there had been overnight light snow which always gives a different atmosphere to the familiar, making the fells look higher and more majestic. There was a satisfying crunch underfoot, mine were the only footprints. Though there were prints of rabbits, hare, deer, and the odd bird who had passed by earlier. The snow was rapidly melting in the fields but compacting to an icy danger on the lanes.
The Bowland Fells.
Soon I was heading up an icy Mile Lane back into the village for a bit of shopping.
The remaining snow had a rosy glow in tonight’s Turneresque sunset.
It had to be a quick visit. It was nearly 3.00 when I parked in the quarry, darkness comes before 4.00 and that is when the rain was due.
Aren’t we lucky to have a Country Park on our doorstep? Ready-made trails, sculptures, wildlife and views. Just great for a short visit and a burst of exercise when you can’t think of anything else. I tend to follow whichever path I find myself on, one can’t get lost for long and all will eventually lead upwards to the summit trig point at 266 m. Since thinning of trees has been carried out in the last decade there is a better variety of habitat. The only downside at the moment is that the visitor centre is closed, post Covid or council savings? I wonder what has happened to all the volunteers. Also don’t expect to find the previously excellent café open, they are only doing a takeaway service Thursday to Sunday.
Yesterday I walked quickly around the darkening forest and then out and up to the open fell top. There always seems to be somebody up there, the ‘green lungs’ of Preston. I was soon back at the car satisfied with my quick visit. The rest of the week looks rubbish.
Woke up, fell out of bed Dragged a comb across my head Found my way downstairs and drank a cup And looking up, I noticed I was late Found my coat and grabbed my hat Made the bus in seconds flat.
Lennon and McCartney. 1967.
Fast-forward 56 years and I almost missed the bus today and the chance of a walk above Chipping. I was lounging in bed with my second coffee of the day, struggling with The Times Crossword. A little hungover from our family’s delayed Xmas/New Year celebrations taken yesterday. My prize present was a bottle of malt.
The forecast was for showers off and on all day. Why do we listen to these updated seaweed predictions? I see out of the corner of my bloodshot eye, from the injury not the whisky, blue skies over all my new neighbours’ new houses. Looking closer all seems good out there.
Made the bus in seconds flat. The stop is handily placed on the corner of my road, and I was soon in Chipping. All part of my intent to make more use of public transport this year.
The walk I quickly improvised is on good surfaces but virtually traffic free and takes you in a circle to the base of the Bowland Hills and back. I’ve described it most recently here and there in more detail.
The sky was blue, there was no wind and the views seemed clearer than usual. Into the grounds of Legram Hall I was on a private road threading its way past farms and sheep country to the open fells, although I wouldn’t be tackling them today. Too early for the snowdrop display I strolled onwards with frequent looks back across the ancient deer park to the dark side of Longridge Fell and the sunnier Pendle. I’d put some loose change into my pocket so that I could purchase free-range eggs from the honesty box of Saddle End Farm – alas there were none left. We are in the middle of Avian Flu and there seems to be a shortage of eggs everywhere. Are the hens on strike with the rest of the country?
Skipping on, down the lane past mills and old foundries. This was an industrial landscape not so long ago. Now there is a Lancashire cheese factory and the remainder of Kirk Mill.
My ‘find of the day’ was some steps in front of the Chair Work’s cottages. I’ve never noticed them before, but they lead down directly into Chipping Brook, which had powered the mills. For what purpose? Washing place for the cottagers, connected with the cotton era for cleansing the fabrics – I’ve no idea, please help.
I had time for a coffee in the wonderful Cobbled Corner Cafe before catching the 2.30 bus home.
In the middle of this sudden cold snap I hesitate on driving the lanes up onto the Fell, they can be icily treacherous. I can hardly get out of my road which being closed for the gas pipeline has not been gritted – it’s like the proverbial ice rink. But the weather is so good I can’t contain myself any longer. I needn’t have worried the road I take is clear of ice. Parked up I kick myself for not venturing forth the last couple of days. Well I don’t actually kick myself as I’ve strapped on my trusty Grivel Spider 10 point micro spikes. I have used these on Alpine treks (not climbs) and they give me confidence on icy surfaces which can crop up anywhere at altitude or in winter. Today is not the day for a slip or fall. the nurses are on strike for the first time, so casualty will be probably more chaotic than of recent months – if that is possible. I don’t intend to rant about the state of our health service, or any other service for that matter. It’s the season of good will, isn’t it?
There is a spring in my step as I follow the wall up the Fell. A satisfying crunch into the icy surface. Although the temperature is still below zero I’m well wrapped up and able to enjoy the bright sunshine. The familiar Fell Xmas tree winks at me from a distance. On closer acquaintance I see that the angel on top has flown, or some spoil sport has taken it. The season of good will.
At the trig point on Spire Hill, to give it its proper title, I’m joined by an energetic dog walker and then a couple recently moved to the area. We share our enthusiasm for all things Bowland. Across the way the snow is disappearing on the south facing slopes of the Fairsnape/Totridge group. I make a mental note to get up there soon.
Leaving my new-found friends to take a different way off the fell through the trees. I’m on a mission here. There is a straight avenue of trees deep in the forest, probably discovered by mountain bikers, which leads through a tunnel towards the light. At the end of that light I have been trying to capture a spectacular sun setting on the horizon in the gap. It didn’t pan out today at 3.20, still too far in the northern arc. Another couple of days or so and I may be in luck. We are heading to the winter solstice, December 21st this year. Wouldn’t it be great if my line of sight in those trees fell on that day. I’ll be back to try again.
I crunched my way back down the increasingly icy path with the setting sun in my eyes, past those familiar pines.
Over to the east Pendle faded into the distance.
Not bad for a short wintry walk. We need more of these.
I’ve struggled to access my WP account in recent days, so I hope this hits the airwaves. Sorry if I have not commented on your latest posts.
Our lane is being dug up for a new gas main. They started last Saturday and will be around for 7 – 10 weeks. By the Sunday my gas gave out, there was no note pushed through the door in way of explanation and there were no workmen in the road. With dread, I phoned the help line of Cadent. Remarkably I was speaking to a helpful human within minutes. He saw no reason for my gas to be disconnected. After the usual details were verified he sent me off to the meter cupboard, I grabbed a torch on the way.
“Press button A – what does it say?” “Account”
“Press button B – what does it say?” “No”
“Press both buttons – what does it say?” “OK”
After a few more sequences like this, I don’t have a button C, he instructed to hold button A for 6 seconds.
“What does it say?” “On”
“Go and try your gas hobs” And yes there was a flow of gas, magic. He thought my smart meter had developed a fault possibly with a short interruption to the gas flow on the Saturday, not so smart after all. As customer care services go that was one of the better ones, thank you Cadent.
The week passed as they came and went gradually digging most of the road up. It’s great because there is no longer any through traffic, we have unfortunately become a bit of a rat run in recent years – hasn’t everywhere?. All peace and quiet now except when they star drilling at 7.30 am.
A note was pushed through my door saying they would need access to the property this Saturday whilst they connected me to the new main. That was unfortunate as today was the sunniest day of the week, the high pressure mist having eventually lifted. My gas disappeared in the morning as a gang of workmen descended on the hole outside my house.
I lit my wood burner for the first time this winter, more for Seth my cat than myself, and settled in with a new book. Eventually a couple of likely lads in muddy boots knocked to check my meter. I didn’t like the look of the monkey wrench with which they attacked my fragile looking connecting pipe. Then there was some muttered discussion about the age and state of the stop lever. Every step of their work was duly photographed with a phone, uploaded immediately to head office. They then disappeared for half an hour or so to get some other equipment or inspiration. I was beginning to fear the worst. I pottered in the garden in the beautiful weather. Back they came and had another look without doing anything obvious, leaving me to await an ‘engineer’ in a couple of hours or so to reconnect me and check my appliances. As the afternoon dragged on I was itching to put my boots on and get up the fell to enjoy the brightest of days.
The ‘engineer’ arrived and poked about in the meter box. Mutterings about the wrong readings and he was on the phone to someone. ” I haven’t a F*****G idea what I’m doing” didn’t impress me. I kept looking at the disappearing sunlight, but he stuck to his slow laborious routine. All systems go eventually, and I thanked him for his work, he didn’t seem particularly enthused by it. Everything about my connection to the new gas main had worked well, and I complement Cadent for the operation, although I doubted its outcome at times. There will be a lot more houses to connect and more holes to dig and fill before the lane is open again, but now I’m OK Jack I’ll just relax and enjoy the traffic free few weeks.
I was up the road to Jeffrey Hill in no time for a short walk to the trig point and back. The low winter sunlight was enchanting. At the gate I came across a well-dressed man with a pod stick, tripod and microphone on his lapel. It transpires he has been producing a Vlog on the nearby Roman Road, his site is Roman Gazette if I remember correctly which I will check out later. We chat all things Roman as the shadows are lengthening. It’s now 3.30 as I set off again, everyone else is descending. Chipping Vale takes on some beautiful colours as the sun prepares to set. Up at the wall another decorated Xmas tree has appeared, smaller than the one higher up but with the tinsel glittering in the low sun. It’s a quick turnaround at the trig point, no ponies today. I come back down virtually blinded by the disappearing sun creating an almost Turner like landscape. I add a couple of baubles to the higher tree in passing.
I have just enough time to take a couple of shots of the windblown tree, one of my favourites up here. That reminds me that I should venture along the Hodder and check out that other old favourite – ‘The Winkley Oak’ in case it suffered any damage in last winter’s storms. Quite a few ancient oaks blew down in the Beast from the East.
By the time I hit the road all is dark, and the cars have their headlamps on. Strangely when I arrive in the car park there are still half a dozen cars, are people camping on the fell or just misjudged how quickly it becomes almost pitch dark?
An hour walk snatched from the end of a glorious day.
I’m happy to switch on my gas central heating and find everything in good order, it could have gone horribly wrong as in this little ditty from the past. How many of you member it?
One never knows when there could be a cloud inversion up on the fell. Last year I experienced a couple of almost perfect days up there.
The gloom down here is all-pervading. I struggle to do the daily Wordle, drinking coffee in bed. The morning is slipping away. My lane is closed to traffic at the moment for a new gas pipeline. So all peace and quiet until the gas people start drilling away outside my house. One can’t switch off easily to pneumatic drilling, so I have to get up, the rest of the week I hadn’t bothered. High pressures at this time of year gives dry and windless days but once the cloud is down it stays that way forever.
I should have taken my bike to Halton and cycled the usual way through Morecambe along the bay. But somehow I hadn’t the motivation. Taking the easy way out I decided to head up the fell. The short drive up there in mist didn’t bode well for views. I must avoid as much as possible long drives for walks next year, for the planet and my purse. It’s always next year. Parked up I was surprised by the number of cars already there.
My short walk to the summit and back was punctuated by several conversations with fellow walkers.
There were the dog walkers, lots of them, with energetic spaniels. Hardly stopping for a sniff at me, the dogs I mean, but all enthusiastic to be out whatever the weather. All very friendly. The weather was actually better than expected, no wind and almost a decent cloud inversion over Chipping Vale. Not good enough for photos.
A couple were steaming up behind me, they recognised me, I struggled to place them initially. Friends from my lad’s school days, played in my garden and remembered me climbing up my house walls. It was great to catch up and how lovely to see how mature and pleasant people are, we are a friendly lot in Longridge, but all is changing. That gas pipe is for the hundreds of houses being built in our once tight-knit community.
The next encounter was with the fell ponies which sometimes appear. Sturdy equines milling around the trig point.
The fairy or is it an angel has appeared on the fell Christmas tree, it needs a few more baubles.
I stop once again for a conversation with an ascending hiker “I’m only 85 he declares” The fell is for everybody as he disappears into the mist. Let’s hope I’m still coming up here in the next decade and the younger walkers will stop and encourage me onwards.
It’s time I did my irregular litter pick up here, there were lots of doggy poo bags and discarded tissues to remove. Maybe tomorrow if this depressing cloud persists. it must be better than the world football on TV.
A rather sad reminder of how we all did lock down. Or is it an omen for our fractured society?
It is still foggy down in Longridge, and they are still digging up the road. I drag my rusty exercise bike from the garage to the kitchen though I doubt it will be my salvation.
My usual ploy of a leisurely start to the day, drinking coffee, catching up with the news and maybe a crossword or two seemed to be sensible as the rain hammered down. Another coffee whilst I scanned the Cicerone Lancashire Guide for an accessible walk more testing than the Blacko one a couple of days ago, delightful though that was. (Today’s turned out to be a tough test of eight difficult miles)
This post became rather long and rambling, I can only apologise now.
I was soon driving out to Grindleton in the Ribble Valley. Several flooded roads did not bode well, perhaps I should have brought Wellingtons. But the forecast was for improvement, and I’ll go with that. The route in question , Walk 20, included an ascent of Easington Fell. I’ve been up there many times. A good friend used to live in Grindleton, and we often did circuits above the village. The last time I was up there was in lockdown 2020 when I approached from the north out of Harrop Fold. The day did not go well, and I was lost for some time (more than I would like to admit) in mist on the fell. I did not want a repeat of that fiasco.
I parked in Grindleton which looked rather sad with both of its pubs closed. They were working on one, formerly the Buck Inn, but progress is slow. The Duke of York sits forlornly on the opposite corner.
The Duke becoming derelict.
Not likely! The old Buck Inn, why the name change? Looks like corporate management.
I walk through some lovely woodlands and above the old Greendale Mill originally powered by the lively valley stream.
I found this on the internet, TCW.
In the 1850s and 60s a quarter of the adults in the village were hand loom weavers of cotton, but industrial mills were being developed apace and depriving the domestic workers of their livelihood. It would have been seen as a benefit to Grindleton when a mill was built there, providing jobs without the workers having to make arduous journeys further afield, perhaps to Preston or Blackburn. Greendale Mill was built in about 1868 by the Grindleton Industrial Association Ltd with space for 180 looms. It straddled a brook and was driven by a water turbine and a 15hp steam engine, which was powered by a huge coal-fired boiler 7ft in diameter and 25ft high. By 1871 the mill had been leased to a tenant, Timothy Marsden. He employed about 50 people and had 100 looms.
At about 12.50pm on Tuesday, September 26, Marsden was seen stoking the furnace to get the boiler steam pressure up. Two or three minutes later there was a shattering explosion. Shocked mill workers rushed out and saw the boiler house had been blown to bits. Masonry and roof slates lay everywhere, covering the surrounding fields up to 200 yards away. A pall of steam hung over the mill and the surrounding area, and there was a deathly silence.
Three or four men entered the boiler house and found the boiler had been torn from its brick setting and thrown across the room, its metal plates ripped apart, and the rivets sheared through. Timothy Marsden was lying on the floor, an oil can in his hand, gasping for air and making rasping sounds. He was severely scalded on his back, arms and legs, and he had a deep gash on his head.
The workers carried him into the cotton warehouse and a doctor arrived. Slipping in and out of consciousness and deeply shocked, Marsden asked what had happened and when told he said, ‘Poor me! What shall I do?’ With some difficulty his clothes were cut off. He asked to be taken to his home in Darwen, about 20 miles away, so he was carefully wrapped in blankets and loaded on to a horse-drawn cart for the journey. The doctor tended to the terrible scalds and the head wound for the rest of the week, but Marsden contracted lockjaw and died on the Sunday night, five days after the accident.
An inquiry was held at the Duke of York Inn, a few hundred yards from the mill, on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 14, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
Damage to the building cost £500 (about £60,000 now) to repair, and the mill was not fully operational until early the next year. Cotton manufacturing continued until 1930. After that, felt was made for hats, and then engineering components. In 1960 the site was acquired by a haulage firm. It is now a storage facility.
The area round the mill, about 20 acres, is now owned by the Woodland Trust which planted it with broadleaf trees in 2000 to commemorate the Millennium. There are a number of damson trees to reflect the fact that Grindleton was once home to a jam factory.
I thought that was worth the read.
Now on Green Lane leading up the fell. At one time this was a pebble stoned way. Bits of tarmac keep appearing to give access to the scattered houses.
I remember White Hall from some previous visit. Its price is now £2 million.
A touch of colour on the way.
Upwards and onwards I pass the extensive grounds and properties of Cob House. One of the grandest overlooking the Ribble Valley and no doubt valued at more than £2 million. I often muse as to who lives in these mansions, local businessman come good or a crook doing bad.
A little farther up a Bridleway slopes off to the left into a valley with the isolated Simpshey Hill straight ahead. My memory clicks back to 1989 when I was introducing one of my son’s to off-road ‘cycle packing’, the other son has more sense. We camped down by the little stream and were surprised if not scared by a large black mink approaching us as we cooked our beans. We didn’t sleep easy. That was the time when animal rights activists were releasing the animals from the mink farms, much to the detriment of the local otter population.
Simpshey Fell and valley.
West Clough Brook.
I worked my way around Simpshey and then Easington Fell with its forest appeared, it looked a long way. In fact, I ended up walking continuously uphill for nearly 4 miles and was glad of a sit down on an old wall for a bite to eat. From up here Pendle was prominent on the horizon, as always, and swinging round the Bowland Fell were all a bit hazy in the moist atmosphere.
The long way up to Easington Fell in red.
I knew that the next section around the north side of the forest would be hard going. I aim for a pile of stones, marked as ‘The Wife’ on some maps.
From there is rough ground, climbing the ‘rusty gate’ mentioned in Mark’s guide, up to another pile of stones marking the summit of Easington Fell, 396 m. (Header photo) The good views into Yorkshire and the Three Peaks were obscured, but I could see my way along the plantation edge. What is not readily apparent is the condition of the ground, it deteriorates into a reedy boggy nightmare where I was concerned I would sink without trace. By now the wetness had spread up to my waist, and I was tiring in the heavy going. I was looking for a way through the forest and was concerned it maybe blocked by all the storm damage from last winter. The easy option would have been to continue outside the trees on an undulating course to Beacon Hill, but I was keen to follow the guide. An indistinct post showed the way into a fire break which thankfully was clear of fallen trees.
That rusty gate – first of many obstacles.
Distant Beacon Fell.
Rough going – what lies beneath?
That elusive fire break.
At its end I joined the Shivering Ginnel, an ancient walled route through these hills. ‘Shivering’ because it was so often a cold north-easterly wind that blew through here.
How many have passed this way.
It was a relief to break out onto the open moor at Beacon Hill. The ground around the summit seems to have been disturbed, mining activity or a more ancient burial ground? Does anybody know? Pendle has to appear in the background of the Summit photo. The River Ribble is somewhere down below.
I’m soon off the fell and on a lane past Scriddles Farm. Don’t know the derivation, but we have had some lovely S’s today – Simpshey, Shivering and Scriddles.
Across a stile is a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ with a great view and the obligatory ostentatious hot tub – but who uses these bacterial baths especially with a public footpath coming through.
The next mile or so was not the best, unmarked paths and crumbling stiles. To make matters worse the afternoon light was rapidly deteriorating. I followed this way in reverse a while back with Sir Hugh and The Rockman, we struggled then but the intervening years have not been kind to all those stiles. Most were difficult and a couple downright dangerous. The guide underplays this section, some acrobatic agility is needed together with the more detailed 1:25000 map, I resorted to phone navigating technology and the landowners could be more helpful.
Slowly rotting away.
Rights of way have a knack of disappearing in horsey country. I’ve nothing against horses.
Somewhere down there.
Don’t look down.
I was glad to reach the ancient sunken track leading straight back to Grindleton.
Jelly Ear fungi – edible but just too nice to pick.
There is a choice of ways through the village – the Main Street with some impressive houses. or the back ally with its cottages. Little ginnels run between the two, and I notice there is a marked trail around the village.
A pleasant place to live apart from those two derelict pubs.
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.
I have not pulled my boots on for a month or so. Today was too windy for cycling, so a short local walk was in order. Do you remember those days of lockdown when only short excursions were allowed – I stuck to the rules. I walked through the fields to Gill Bridge, on through Ferraris country hotel (doing takeaways only) and back along the almost empty road. I repeated the same walk or variations many times, using hand sanitiser after every gate latch or stile. Others had the same idea and the footpaths became well trodden and easy to follow.
We are two years on from there, most of us have had Covid and thankfully survived and life is moving on. We are however faced with another batch of problems, but let’s not dwell on those today. It’s time for some fresh air and exercise.
I repeat that same four mile route from my house. It does not look as though many others are walking the paths. They are overgrown and unloved. No need for hand sanitiser any more, did it ever do any good? The views have not changed, and I’m surrounded by the Bowland Fells and Longridge Fell. The clouds blow through in the blustery winds with odd bursts of sunshine.
I find chestnuts, ‘conkers’, where I hadn’t realised there were chestnut trees. A handful go into my pocket for planting later and while I’m at it collect some oak nuts, acorns. Beech nuts are in profusion along the roadside. Unidentified fungi are seen in the fields. Hawthorn berries add a touch of rouge to the hedgerows.
Into the outdoors.
Autumn’s fruitfulness is our bonus for this splendid short rural walk on my doorstep. My spirits are lifted, and our other problems put in their place.
I mustn’t leave it so long before I next tread these paths, they don’t deserve to be forgotten.
It is that sort of day; no wind, sun shining, rural Lancashire, the bike cruising effortlessly, no traffic, virtually no sounds. What more could you want. I’m on a linear canal ride where time has stood still, almost a parallel universe. The canal takes you along without you realising where you are in relation to familiar roads and settlements. I could be in Rotterdam or anywhere – sorry that is a link to a recent post. But I meet people, interesting people in this parallel universe.
At the start I chat to an elderly cyclist who is setting off on his electric bike admitting it is heavy, and you can’t pedal it if the battery dies on you. He suggests that if you are over eighty then this is for you – well I have a few years of proper pedalling ahead of me. He speeds off and I never catch up.
There was the lady by the swans, they are here every year she says, using the canal towpath as a route to and from her shops. How lucky she is and I think she knew. There were seven cygnets, all strengthening their wings ready for a first flight, enchanting.
I pass, incognito, through Lancaster City at times elevated above the streets and housing. I have a picture in my mind of what would happen if the banks broke. That must be linked to my childhood stories of the little Dutch guy with his thumb in the leaking dam. Lots of the converted canal warehouses are now student accommodations, how lucky are they. There are some iconic canal features along here where the horses could cross from one side of the towpath to the other side without unhitching. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Now in the countryside I chat to a houseboat owner, probably a former dropout but now elevated in my esteem to an interesting canal dweller. He may have the advantage over the rest of us in our current cost of living crisis. How the worm turns. Drifter.
A dog walker talks of his previous life as a travelling rep. No more motorway hold-ups for him.
The towpath takes me through shady cuttings and open fields. I don’t look at my phone to see where I am, preferring to let things happen. I can’t get lost. A southerner recently moved to these parts is interested in my route, but I have the feeling he won’t be tackling anything more than a gentle walk to the pub. How judgemental is that?
It seems to take an age on rather overgrown and awkward paths, I’m not as agile on the bike as before, talking decades here, and I’m very wary of skidding off the path head first into the canal. I walk some of the way. Picking ripe sweet blackberries was a joy. I was in no rush.
Eventually I reach the junction with the Glasson canal built to link the port of Glasson with Lancaster. And then the railway came. More of that later.
I’m still in that peaceful easy feeling as I continue without meeting a soul through fields towards the coast. It was along here that I witnessed a heron trying to swallow a wriggly eel earlier this year.
Glasson is as busy as ever with motorcyclists and tourists of a certain age, so I head across the bridge to the little shop where I’m in time for one of their freshly baked cheese and onion slices. Sat in the sunshine with a coffee – perfect. It must be high tide as the lock gates to the ocean are open.
I’ve taken a long time to cycle 12 miles to Glasson, what with all the stops and awkward sections, but now it is head down on the old railway, which superceded the canal I’ve just been following. Back into Lancaster and on to Halton Station. That has set me up for autumn and thoughts of trans Pennine trails.
I switch the radio on when I’m in my car, but this time there is no déjà vu link to the Eagles from way back then. Here it is nonetheless. I may have played this before in other contexts, but it is a favourite of mine and perfectly reflected this sunny day’s ride. California dreaming.
I highly recommend this 20 mile off-road circuit, after a short ascent to reach the Lancaster Canal on the period Aqueduct it is flat all the way even if a little rough towards Galgate. The section to Glasson is totally rural and as peaceful as you could wish.
I arranged a walk with my son today whist he is off work and I took him on a repeat of one of his early childhood walks of which he had no recollection – the classic Nicky Nook circuit from Scorton.
This involves parking near the local parish church, St. Peter’s, famous for its steeple, a landmark visible from the M6 going north. The time was 3.00.
We didn’t mess about on field paths low down, just walked up the quiet lanes until there was access into GrIze Dale. I always enjoy the stroll up this deep wooded valley, today there was only a trickle of water in the beck. The Grizedale Reservoir was the lowest I have ever seen it.
Walking up the gentle side of the hill we started to meet more people, but generally the place was deserted.
That’s not the top.
We stopped at the freshly painted trig point to take in the views over the Bowland hills, the motorway snaking north, Morecambe Bay and the Fylde. That is why most people come up here.
Down the steep side and into Scorton where we take the lane to the church whose clock now says 5.30.
An innovative sign.
Time for a beer and a Chinese meal back in Garstang. He still didn’t remember the childhood walk but enjoyed the excursion, it’s good to share.
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.
It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.
I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?
An uncertain start.
Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.
Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.
I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.
The Written Stone.
This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.
Up to Jeffrey Hill.
The Ribble Valley and Pendle.
No time for stragglers.
I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.
That view from Jeffrey Hill.
Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.
Remains of the sculpture installation.
Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.
Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.
The listed C18th Thornley Hall.
A promising start to the bridleway…
…soon becomes this…
…and then unexpectedly this.
Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.
Wheatley Farm, 1774.
One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.
Parlick and Fairsnape.
There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.
There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.
Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.
Longridge Fell looking across the green Chipping Vale towards the Trough of Bowland.
At the risk of raising the blood pressure of my, environmentally sensitive, readers – read on.
Following on from my brush with Covid I have not kept up with the walks featured in the Lancashire Cicerone Guide book. I hope to resume them shortly. Today I needed a gentle leg stretcher – Longridge Fell always has something to offer. I’ve not done a ‘litter pick’ up there for several weeks so that became the object of the morning’s stroll.
Parking up I was immediately confronted with discarded pizza boxes and drink bottles , also strangely two plastic motor oil containers. There is a litter bin 10 metres away, though admittedly it is usually full to overflowing. Not a good start to the day.
I set off on my walk intending to clear this mess up when I return, it won’t all go in my bag. Longridge Fell was bone dry making for easy walking though the threats of moorland fires must be high. I noticed the bilberries were very small perhaps a reflection of our lack of rainfall this June and July. The other thing that struck me was that the heather was already blooming – I seem to have missed some seasons this year.
A sad finding on the ridge was a recently dead Kestrel. I could see no signs of it being shot, but I did wonder afterwards about possible poisoning. Should I have picked it up and sent to the RSPB or police for toxicology tests?
Up to the trig point and back in a circle I half filled my bag with the usual doggy poo bags, drinks cartons and food wrappers. The short stretch on the road at the end provided an equal amount of rubbish dumped out of passing cars. All I had to do was pick up the rest of that rubbish in the car park.
This is a local beauty spot with a fine view of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills so there are always cars parked here. In lock-down it was a free for all with all the verges taken over, things are back to normal now. Today I noticed two artists busy painting the scene. I wandered over to have a chat and admire their work. One was using watercolours and the other acrylic, they both complained about the high temperature affecting their paints. What a talent to be able to capture that view with a few brushstrokes. I wish I had asked them to email me a copy of their finished paintings. That reminds me, I have on my study wall a watercolour of the very same scene done for me by a Mr. A Long, an artist who lived in Longridge 40 odd years ago.
Mr Long’s painting.
What a contrast from two gents fully appreciating their environment to the louts who drive up here with their takeaways and don’t take them away.
A couple of weeks go by with more minor injuries preventing walking far – so time to get back on the bike. The problem was where should I go – my easy routes are becoming repetitive. After a few days bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge I feel rather stiff and lethargic this morning. Before you ask, although walking is painful I am able to do low level bouldering as long as I don’t jump off or more likely fall off. Anyhow, I have survived and need a longer day’s exercise, the wind has dropped so out comes the cycle, or rather in goes the cycle, into the cavernous boot of my estate car. No need to dismantle anything which could later cause me problems of a mechanical nature. Every cycle ride I do my heart is in my mouth expecting some failure which my limited mechanical abilities could not solve, leading to a long walk. I’m surprised there isn’t a breakdown service available to cyclists.
I’ve spotted, on the cycling map, a Route 90 that will give me a circular ride after I’ve progressed up Morecambe Bay to Carnforth. As I said, feeling lethargic I didn’t get going until lunchtime but once more I’m in the parking at old Halton station. I grab a coffee from the convenient snack van ready for the off along the familiar lines through Lancaster to Morecambe…
I’ve not felt well for a couple of days, head cold, sore throat, chesty cough, dizziness,bowel and bladder irritation and as I commence to write up yesterday’s completed excursion here this morning I feel distinctly worse. Time for a Covid test.