Category Archives: Bowland Fells.

A SUNDAY MORNING STROLL.

I can’t say much new about Longridge Fell.

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.

DUNSOP VALLEY AND BURN FELL, ANOTHER BOWLAND TOP.

Burn Fell seen on the approach along the Hodder Valley to Dunsop Bridge.

On the 2nd of January 1945, just before I was born, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an American heavy bomber crashed on Burn Fell. The aircraft was being ferried from Seething in Norfolk to Warton near Preston, most of the passengers were a second aircrew who were going to fly another aircraft back to Seething. The crew had become disorientated in low cloud and snow showers, they obtained a radio fix on Warton and the pilot turned onto the appropriate heading to get to Warton and while flying at just 1500ft the aircraft flew into the top of Burn Fell, slewed round demolishing a stone wall and bursting into flames. Most of the aircraft was reduced to ashes, fortunately of the 19 aircrew onboard 15 of them survived the crash and subsequent fire. People from farms below the crash site came to rescue the surviors from the snowy hillside with makeshift stretchers and human strength.

I  passed the site of this disaster on today’s walk in Bowland.

A bright sunny morning and I was parked up in Dunsop Bridge before most people had stirred. The walk up into the Dunsop Valley is familiar and the water board road gives access to both the Brennand and Whitendale valleys, with the hill of Middle Knoll [not to be confused with nearby Mellor Knoll] between them. Where the roads split there is a small footbridge across the river which takes you onto a track up into Whitendale above the water.

Middle Knoll.

At Costy Clough the track gives way to a narrow path, This is delightful walking with the hills beckoning ahead whilst the water tumbles below. The farm at Whitendale comes into view, part of the royal Dutchy Estate. By now I was in fairly remote hill country and using trods through the heather, A sign post erected by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society showed my options just above Whitendale Farm. I’ve never quiet known who they are. From this area I had a view to the southern face of Middle Knoll and was surprised to see how steep and rocky it looked.The lambs around here looked almost new born, very unsteady on their legs. A zig zagging track started to climb out of the valley onto Dunsop Fell, mainly to visit some shooting butts, but it gave me an easy way up to the watershed especially as the peat was less squelchy than usual. Suddenly there were people ahead of me, I caught them up at the top as they took in the views. A family group from Wigan who seemed to know the area well. Oh and here is another one of those signs.Where the three went down I contoured and found a path of sorts leading to the trig point on Burn Fell, 431m. Over to the east were the Three Peaks, Yorkshire’s finest. Below was Stocks Reservioir, Waddington Fell with its mast and behind that the big end of Pendle. I followed the wall past the trig with Totridge Fell ahead and the Hodder Valley stretching out towards Longridge Fell, these Bowland Fells group themselves closely together, I could clearly see the line of my Longridge Skyline Walk coming off Totridge Fell, over Mellor Knoll down to the Hodder. over Birkett Fell to Waddington Fell before dropping down to recross the Hodder and finish over Longridge Fell.

Over to Yorkshire with Stocks Reservoir.

A few 100 m past the summit I came across the remains of the B-24, bits of molten metal and glass. A cross has been erected and there is a stone memorial to the four airmen who lost their lives.

A track of sorts through the boggy heather slowly brought me off the fell and down a grassy rake towards Beatrix Farm. It was here that I started to encounter boxes/tunnels designed to trap stoats etc. as I neared pheasant breading copses. Inside each box was a strong spingloaded trap. I’m not sure of the legality of these traps as any prey would suffer a horrible death. The remains of a ?rabbit in one showed that they are not regularly checked. It was surprisingly how vicious they were when a stone was accidentally dropped onto a trap, or even several, or as many as I could find. Mea culpra.

A lane down into Dunsop Bridge gave easy walking after the rough stuff on the fells. Bluebell woods welcomed me into the hamlet at the centre of the Isles. Cups of tea at the cafe beckoned before my drive home. Today I had seen or heard wagtails, skylarks, oyster catchers, cuckoos, curlews, buzzards and whilst getting into the car a dipper on the stream below.*****

 

 

 

 

 

WHIN FELL – ANOTHER BOWLAND CIRCUIT.

Sorry about the photos.

Set off today after lunch and parked at Smelt Mill in the Trough of Bowland, this is the headquarters of the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue  team.

Smelt Mill with Mellor Knoll behind.

On the 1:25,000 map I noticed a track leaving the road and zigzagging up  Staple Oak Fell. I found it and was able to follow it through rough ground to a fence just below the 415m summit. I hopped across the fence and went to the highest point, I’m not sure why. It was all much of a sameness. Views kept opening up in all directions and I took loads of photos of the surrounding Bowland Fells. I then simply followed the fence to meet up with the bridleway from the Trough over to Brennand. In the past this was a regular mountain bike route for me taking the thrill a minute ride down Ouster Rake to the Duchy’s farm deep in the Brennand valley. I couldn’t resist a slight diversion today to view that descent, it did look dramatic.

Returning to the col I decided to follow another fence up to the trig point of Whins Brow 478m on Whin Fell. There were some boggy peat haggs to negotiate before the summit. Views to Morecambe Bay, the three Yorkshire Peaks, Pendle, Longridge Fell and the nearer Bowland Fells above Hareden and Langden Valley where I was tramping a few days ago. Splendid.

The Trough of Bowland with Totridge Fell prominent.

I took a beeline off the summit down steep grassy slopes into Rams Clough to meet up with that bridleway coming down from Whin Fell. A winding lane followed the valley down to the Trough Road near a barn. As I walked down the road I recognised a gate leading to the Trough of Bowland Quarry, an esoteric climbing venue I’d not visited for 20 years. The cliff looked remarkably clean and very steep. I recognised some of the lines taking ramps across the face to an unfortunate loose top. I even spied an old peg! I wondered if it was still in the Lancashire Climbing guidebook, yes it is though I doubt many people climb here anymore shame really as it has a lovely situation for a summer’s evening in peace and solitude. It was whilst I was in the quarry that my camera started flashing “memory card damaged” – how could it be. But no it refused to take any more photos and more annoyingly will not download any of today’s pictures.  This cheap camera, a Praktica L212, has always had a problem with the memory card losing the occasional pictures. Wilkinson’s Cameras, Preston, have failed to resolve the problem and I will be down there tomorrow with the latest complaint. Annoyed at loosing some fantastic views today. Took some pics with my phone but even those are poor, not my day.

Trough of Bowland Quarry…

…and nearby lime kiln.

Wandered down the road past Sykes Farm and then the Langden parking spot as the tea van was packing up. Soon back at Smelt Mill.

Sykes Farm.

Trough tea van.                                                                                                                  

PS. The memory card was unreadable but Wilkinson’s gave me a replacement free despite well out of guarantee. Local shop 1 Internet 0.

So my camera back in action but those photos lost forever – a good excuse to repeat what was an outstanding walk.

*****

LANGDEN CASTLE AND HAREDEN.

I was so inspired by my last walk in the Bowland Area that I started looking for more  routes around Dunsop Bridge, I soon had several loops that looked promising. Time to try one I haven’t done for years, I enrol JD for some exercise. Simply this is up the Langden Valley, then Bleadale, over a bit of a hill and down Hareden Valley.

The morning was dull and drizzly but promised to improve so we parked up on the Trough road at noon, not a soul about. A relaxing stroll up the valley  gave me chance to catch up with JD’s recent exploits in various parts of the country – Lakes, Wales and Malham.

We disturbed a pair of Greylag Geese with their clutch of youngsters. There seemed to be plenty of Pheasants about but not much else.

Spot the chick.

On the map two ‘castles’ are marked; Holdron Castle which turns out to be a rocky outcrop and Langden Castle which is a shooting hut. We made for the latter for a place to sit for a bite to eat. The outer ends of the hut are open but despoiled by sheep and humans, the central room is now locked and shuttered although in the past we have bivied in it when my children were young, I remember getting a roaring fire going in the hearth.

The path continues up by Langden Brook into Fiendsdale and over a boggy col to Bleasdale but today we turn south to enter Bleadale, confused?  The stream crossings here can be hazardous but to-day with all the dry weather we hopped across with ease.

The path up into Bleadale is squeezed in by the stream with a little scrambling in parts but is better than I remember it.

Again this valley could be followed all the way over Saddle Fell and down into Chipping but we strike off again to climb Zig Zags in a subsidiary clough leading over Hareden Fell.

Higher a path of sorts is found between the peat hags helped by some marker posts near grouse butts, these fells are shooting territory and the estates have come in for some criticism lately for illegal raptor prosecution. We don’t see any birds of prey all day whereas in the past Peregrines, Merlins and Hen harriers were fairly common. [Later in the day we meet a couple of RSPB wardens on patrol so there must be nesting raptors about. This is a remote desolate place and we are glad of the good visibility.

We meet up with the estate land rover track leading down into Hareden. Below us to the right is a very steep sided valley of Hareden Brook and the lower wooded parts are the home to Ring Ousel, I suspect I spotted a female but couldn’t be sure as it flew swiftly past.

We wander down and enjoy a rest by the river just before it enters water treatment plants. The workers cottage and garden is obviously well looked after, all is neat and tidy. The bird boxes in the shelter belt of trees are all marked BASC, ironically The British Association for Shooting and Conservation who are generally more focused on shooting.

We passed the houses at Hareden Farm as I had done a couple of days ago, the dogs were sill barking. Just after the farms a concessionary path follows the Langden Brook back upstream avoiding the road giving a fitting end to our day of linking brooks. I’m already planning my next Bowland circuit.

*****

MELLOR KNOLL AND THE HODDER.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll from Burholme Bridge at the start of the walk.

Mellor Knoll is a 344m lump in Bowland, I didn’t actually climb it but I came close.

I was in my dormouse mode this morning and stayed in bed with my second coffee looking at maps whilst the day warmed up. Eventually I stirred and drove out to park at Burholme Bridge on the River Hodder. Early morning cyclists were already returning from their Trough of Bowland circuit, a popular ride with Lancashire cyclists: one of the most prominent I met later in the day. I last cycled it 5 years ago.

A quiet lane leads up into the limestone area of Bowland with its Reef Knolls and caves.  A footpath brought me onto the farm track to Whitmore, a lonely farm at the base of Totridge Fell. In the past there were free range hens wandering about although today the scattered wooden hen-houses looked deserted.

 

Welcoming committee.

A bridleway takes off towards the woods on a track that was always muddy but tree felling has opened up the landscape and things are improved. This bridleway cuts through between the cone of Mellor Knoll and the parent fell of Totridge. Contouring the hillside was a joy with bluebells and fresh green beech leaves; views down to the snaking Hodder and the little known Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle; towering above me was Totridge Fell with stone walls going straight up the steep slopes.

With all this excitement I wandered off course at the col and was heading the wrong way into Hareden Valley, it wouldn’t have mattered on this open ground but I traversed back to the correct track. Up here the hardy sheep only seem to have one lamb as opposed to their lowland softies with twins and triplets. Oh and this is how to mend a wall…

I was now looking down on the farms of Hareden with the Trough of Bowland in the background. The hounds at the farm always give you a greeting long before you arrive.

Crossing Hareden Brook [dippers seen] and then Langden Brook brought me onto a short stretch of The Trough of Bowland road.

Looking up the ‘Trough’ road.

I followed this for a short way before I could continue across fields to the water board road following the River Dunsop past cottages to the hamlet.

I’m sure these weren’t designed for outdoor seating.

Mellor Knoll above the new houses in Dunsop Bridge.

This is a popular walking area and lots of families were out enjoying the sunny weather and the delights of Dunsop Bridge hamlet – often cited as the geographic centre of Great Britain, although different measurements give different results. I passed the BT phone box which celebrates this fact.

A line of tall pines leads to Thornyholme Hall and farm over a bridge on the Hodder. The last time I passed here in 2013 a chain saw artist was just beginning rendering a stump into a statue of the thinking man and the results were seen today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lovely stretch along the River Hodder, ducks and their ducklings were swimming by the bridge and further on I watched sandmartins going back and forth to their holes in a sand bank. If you click and enlarge the photo I actually caught some of them in flight and at the nest entrances. It was on this stretch I met an elderly couple walking towards me on a short river ramble, some how the conversation turned to cycling and it transpired that the 80yr old gent was Dave Brown. He had been a prominent racing cyclist with impressive time trial results over all distances, only retiring after he had passed 70yrs. https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/3829912.east-lancashire-cyclist-retires-after-53-years/  He told me he had written a weekly cycling column in the Lancashire Telegraph for 40 years until they recently decide to scrap it!  We swapped tales of cycling in the past, what a lovely chance encounter.

Soon I was back at Burholme Bridge having completed an interesting, if modest, 7 mile circuit feeling privileged to be living within this beautiful Bowland area.

 

*****

 

ZIG ZAGGING UP FAIRSNAPE.

The way to the zig zags.

From Bleasdale if the light is right one can see a zig zag track going up the southern slopes of Fairsnape. Today, Easter Sunday, the sun was strongly shining onto that slope and the way was not obvious but a look at the satellite map shows the track clearly from Higher Fairsnape Farm..Fairsnape is usually climbed from the outskirts of Chipping following tracks over Parlick but I have not used these zig zags and I thought today would be a good time to avoid the crowds. Sure enough when I reached Fell Foot the were already a dozen cars parked up, this is the spot where the paragliders start their trek up the hill. An insignificant footpath pointer on the corner led me into rough fields  where few go, but stiles some more substantial than others link up a pathless route which traverses round below Parlick to above Blindhurst farm.The sound of Lapwings and Curlews was everywhere, a hare popped up directly in front of me before disappearing into the distance. There seem to be an abundance of Orange Tip butterflies this year. There are new-born lambs and in the sky early paragliders. To my right is open access land [rough poor land that the landowners were happy to allow to be designated in the CRoW act] and it struck me that the colour of the land resembled the brown colouring on the 1:25,000 maps.

I dropped into a valley with a tributary of the River Brock and passed a green spot that would be ideal for a wild camp with my youngest grandchild if I could get him off his iPad. There was nobody about at Higher Fairsnape farm except new-born lambs. The buildings look old with mullioned windows and one wonders about the hardships of farming these remote places in the past and even now.

A signpost pointed the way on a concessionary path to reach the start of my zigzags. Once on the open fell I enjoyed a leisurely ascent up the well graded tracks, I always assume these tracks were for bringing peat down from the fells.

At one of the turns was the remains of a building, perhaps a shelter for the workers.

Years ago I can remember a similar structure with a disintegrating roof on the way up nearby Saddle Fell, it has now become a pile of stones but perhaps hides a sombre history.

On 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were faced with severe winter conditions which result in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister Sheila survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. The brothers probably took shelter in the hut.  There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so it was left to the police and locals to search, British Aircraft Corporation loaned their whirlwind helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy a South Ribble Rescue team was set up, now the local Bowland Pennine team.

  Above me were paragliders soaring the thermals and lots of people coming up the route from Parlick, I had seen nobody for two hours. My track came onto the plateau only a few hundred yards from the summit. Up here there is a cairn with Paddy’s Pole, a wind shelter and the trig point, 510m. I had a quick look around for a suitable bivi spot in the near future.

I was able to take a summit photo of a couple on their first ascent of Fairsnape and pointed out that the true summit, 520m, was half a mile away NE and that today conditions were perfect for visiting it as the peat hags that guard it have virtually dried up. I met up with them there later. the views were hazy – no Lakeland Hills or Three Peaks, Pendle and Longridge Fell were a blur.

520m summit.

A romp down the wallside and round Parlick. Looking back across Bleasdale towards Fairsnape showed no evidence of my zig zags. I walked below the popular spots for launching parapentes and many were still in the air. I passed a late starter walking up with his load.

The day was finished before lunch back at the road at Fell Foot.

*****

 

SD 38. INSKIP TO LONGRIDGE.

This is long distance walking in easy stages designed for winter exercise. Todays stage actually finishes in Longridge, my home town, which is convenient for me if not for Sir Hugh who has to travel from Arnside, but it was his idea in the first place. At least today we meet up in the agreed destination, a good start. We are walking by 9.30 on a clear sunny morning with a strong cold wind at our heals. There must have been a lot of rain last night judging by the pools on the road – an ominous sign. We take to footpaths as soon as we can and end up in deep mud similar to where we left off last week. The stiles around Singletons Farm are virtually impassable, blocked by hawthorn, but we push through.Crossing a field we are confronted by the next stile leading into a lake, no way we can go that way so we retreat and hit the minor lane to Cuddy Hill [sounds Scottish] and the well-known Plough Inn. After all the frustating obstacles I was ready for a drink but of course they hadn’t opened. Eventually we find the onward path and emerge onto a lane which took us over a canal. In the past we have both walked the The Black and White, Lancaster Canal.    but we didn’t recognise the location,

We were on the A6 for a short distance before crossing over onto tracks to end up in fields,  navigational errors had us back tracking to reach Jepps Lane. The A6 seemed like the transition from the flat floodplain of The Fylde to the pleasant countryside of the Ribble Valley. The wind by now had intensified and many of Sir Hugh’s pearls of wisdom were lost. I had never been down the lane to Barton Old Hall before but it conveniently crossed the motorway for us. The Old Hall was hidden behind trees and the cluster of houses and conversions at the hall were rather depressing.

I think we were deterred from the actual path through the properties but still found ourselves in rolling countryside alongside the proverbial babbling brooks. Time passed as we weaved our way through the pleasant Lancashire countryside. The Bowland Fells rose in the background and ahead was a glimpse of Longridge Fell.

 

We passed the stately Goosnargh Lodge, joined some local routes and reached Goosnargh Mill, not the best of conversions.

I was now on home ground and confidently marched across fields finding hidden stiles until we reached one that was in such a dangerous state we had to retreat yet again and find an alternative way. Worse was to come as what had been open fields was divided up by permanent electric fencing, the sort used for equine enclosures, with no regard for any public rights of way. Attempts at crawling under on the wet ground were not pleasant so we took to dismantling the top wires to step over, there was fortunately no electric current. Reports to LCC  are on their way. A rather sour note towards the end of the day.

He who dares – SAS training.

Just before Longridge we passed Sea View cottages,  and yes you could just about see back to the coast where we had started SD 38.The road into Longridge is now surrounded on all sides by new housing developments, the Fell can just be glimpsed above the roofs. It is no longer the attractive, honest, little town that I moved to all those years ago.

 

 

*****