Category Archives: Bowland Fells.

FAIRSNAPE FELL.

The phone rang shortly after 7am. It was going to be a very hot day and Dave suggested a walk over Fairsnape, above Chipping, early on. I grabbed a drink and my camwera and we were soon climbing the old track up Saddle Fell with a lovely breeze keeping us cool. I can only surmise that this track was for sledging down peat from the cloughs above. Crossing a fence before the watershed the track has been ‘improved’ with stones and gives a good walking surface to the true summit of Fairsnape, 520m. The last few yards of bog have been paved with slabs though today everything was so dry one could walk anywhere. Taking out my camera to record the summit I found the battery completely flat hence no pictures to accompany this post. The above photo taken later from Longridge Fell shows Parlick and Fairsnape to the left with Saddle Fell central. Below is the village of Chipping and lower right you can see the Steam Fair site which is open all Spring Bank weekend and attracts visitors from far afield.

The walk along the ridge was as dry as I have known it, we cut downhill before the trigpoint. Skylarks were singing and fluttering high above and several pairs of Curlews were flying past with their haunting call. A small brown bird flew up from under my feet and there in the heather was the most perfect round little nest lined with grass and containing four brownish eggs, probably Meadow Pipit. I cursed the lack of my camera.

Skirting round the west side of Parlick we avoided the worst of the steep descent and contoured back under the fells to Saddle End and the car. We were back home for lunch before the hottest part of the day. Only the next day did I discover a tick embedded in my groin which I quickly and cleanly removed with my extracting device. These little menaces seem to be becoming more common in sheep rearing areas and as they have the potential to carry Lymes Disease care should be taken to avoid them. I was asking for trouble walking in shorts.

 

Around the block.

I can’t believe I was climbing a few days ago in a T shirt as this morning the cold dull weather continues towards Easter. I rouse myself to do a favourite short walk from home to see what is happening in the countryside. Longridge Fell looks broodingly down on the start of my walk into a field full of seagulls, they are unusual so they must be feeding on something – possibly recent muck spreading.

A glance at the 1:25000 map shows many small ponds in these fields, they are the remains of Marl Pits dug in the 19th century to provide lime rich clay for spreading on the fields to improve the soil. They now provide an interesting habitat for wildlife and plants. One near here unfortunately is used by the duck shooting fraternity, today the mallards were paddling happily. A couple of larger ponds used to keep my children happy for hours fishing for god knows what.

I passed a few metal gates which are for access to a line of aqueducts crossing this area, the Thirlmere aqueduct to Manchester and the Hodder aqueduct to Blackpool. Generally the former has black gates whilst the latter green. A useless bit of information.

On the lanes Blackthorn was in flower before its leaves appeared, the reverse of the Hawthorn, May Blossom. The phrase “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” was particularly pertinent today in the cold wind.  Better information.

Blackthorn.

Sheep were with lambs and the cattle were being let out into the fields. I came across a particularly threatening breed of sheep.

Pit Bull sheep.

Since I was last this way a memorial seat has been erected – “he loved this farm” a lovely sentiment.

Passing three popular hostelries …

Ferraris Country Hotel.

Derby Arms.

The Alston.

… shunning them all I arrived home in under a couple of hours. The weather shows no sign of improving but at least I’ve had some exercise.

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – YET AGAIN.

I had no sooner booked a trip to the Canary Islands, to get away from our dismal weather, when the temperature here shot up and the sun was shining. Will it last? Better get out, make the most of it and do a bit of training. Now when I say training I mean go for a short walk. I chose Longridge Fell again as I was hoping for clear views, but which way up?  It is so easy to park up near Cardwell House but I decided to reverse my usual routes for variety. This turned out to be quite different and not entirely successful, for some reason my anti clockwise circuit was strangely unbalanced. I couldn’t really say why – the wrong views, the wrong gradients, the wrong approach.

So what was new today, apart from the sunny weather?  There has been a lot of timber extraction on the fell in the last few years, partly due to the Ramorum fungus and also with maturity. Interestingly I’ve spent a few days recently cutting down a Blue Spruce in my garden. It suddenly lost all its needles a couple of years ago and has not recovered. Spruces are susceptible to the disease and I wonder whether I brought it back from the fell on my boots. The tracks on the fell have been improved to take the heavy machines and lorries involved. They only need to quarry superficially into the fellside to obtain  hardcore for the tracks. I had just passed one of these quarries when I came across a lorry and trailer being loaded with cut timber. It looked a slick operation.

Distant Pendle Hill.

Ready made hardcore quarry.

Smaller tracks took me to the top and the views were clearer than the other day, the Yorkshire Three Peaks were prominent and across Chipping Vale the Bowland Fells distinct. On my way down the ‘balcony’ path I started to meet people coming up from the now busy carpark.

A good 5.5 miles. I was home for lunch.

 

A BLEASDALE BLAST.

Bleasdale.

Bleasdale.

The forecast was dire – strong easterlies and minimal temperatures.

Enjoying a Sunday lie in listening to the radio I was disturbed by a phone call at about 10am from Mike wondering if I fancied a walk in the prevailing conditions. He had cancelled sailing in Yorkshire [even worse weather – not suitable for rigging up]. Glad of the prompt I suggested a couple of venues and arranged to pick him up at 11am. Quick breakfast.

We plumped for Bleasdale – lowish lying and good tracks. I’ve done this walk many times in all seasons – ie.  But something new always crops up.

The wind was blowing at 30mph when we left the car but we were sheltered by that magnificent beech hedge along the road. Turning right into the estate road at the desirable small lodge views opened up of the Bleasdale circle of fells. We walked through the estate houses and workshops and headed straight into the wind. As you go into a shelter band of trees there is a tall arched bridge across a small stream, I’ve never taken much notice of this before but today clambered down the bank for a better view. On the parapet downstream is a crest with the stonemasons tools highlighted but no date or name. On the open stretch of track the wind was fierce blowing sleet into our faces, we didn’t hang about. The hills disappeared into cloud and we were glad we weren’t up there. We were passed by a girl on an electric mountain bike with the widest tyres I’ve seen on a cycle. Battered by the wind we passed the track to Bleasdale Circle.

Mystic Bleasdale circle.

Mystic Bleasdale circle.

On to the isolated church and school. The wind turbine was hurtling round and no doubt providing electricity to the grid via the community centre. Things have changed here since my last visit – the well insulated parish hall has connected to the turbine and also installed an ecological  wood pellet burning boiler. Quite a step forward for this small community.

All is not necessarily rural idyll in this area –

After 4.5 miles we were glad to be back at the car and home for soup and rugby on TV.

 

BEACON FELL CIRCUIT.

It was one of those out of body experiences – I was 11years and cycling as fast as I could around the Teesdale lanes getting strong for some time trialing; then I was in my teens touring various parts of Britain with my mates; now I’m 30 and exploring the Trough of Bowland and further afield doing 100 mile days; next I’m 50 and cycling across Europe on endless adventures. Now I’m off my bike and having to walk up a steepish hill onto Beacon Fell. Bugger.

Today’s circuit from home is about the same distance as the Preston Guild Wheel which I’ve been using recently but with HILLS – over a 1000ft of ascent. Your are on your own here.Still the roads are quiet, the sun is shining and I’m wrapped up against the freezing temperatures.

Beacon Fell is a local landmark and popular with strollers and families. It is one of my regular haunts usually walking as previous posts detail. I had forgotten how impregnable it was on a bike. Still the cafe is open all year. Despite the icy roads it was mainly fast downhill from here on the long way round to Chipping under the Fairsnape Fells. There were a few more hills I’d forgotten about!

and then I’m sprinting to the finish on the Champs-Élysées.

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As an aside I passed several laneside garages long since abandoned, they were a feature of the countryside 50 years ago. They were never open when you needed petrol  on a Sunday afternoon but their skilled mechanics kept the locals cars and tractors on the road. No plug in diagnostics in those days.

 

 

 

 

THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES WALK – Caton Moor to Lancaster Castle.

Our final stage of this fascinating walk began high on the Caton Moors. The well known, when  viewed from the motorway, wind turbines were rotating rapidly in the strong wind as we passed. Up here today we had extensive views of the Bowland Fells, Ingleborough and Pennine fells north, the Lune Valley and Morecambe Bay, an exhilarating start to the day. In a picnic area we found our first tercet of the day, No 6. A lane coming from nowhere brought us down into Brookhouse and we explored the back lanes and pretty houses of the village, roses seem to be a specialty of the gardens here.

Across the main road we joined the Lune Valley Ramble into Lancaster along an old railway. All of a sudden humanity appeared – dog walkers, joggers and cyclists supporting the idea of good exercise and being able to participate in a safe and beautiful environment. Well done Lancaster with the help of European money!  Two men were setting off  cycling coast to coast  to Bridlington, a route my son speaks highly of. They were an odd couple one young and fit on a classy bike, the other hoping to rely on his electric motor to get across the Pennines. I hope their enthusiasm saw them through although I suspect they will have been very wet at the weekend. We crossed the famous Crook Of Lune [painted by Turner] on an impressive bridge. More cyclists were passing the next tercet. For a break we sat on the banks of the river below a weir near Halton old station. A fisherman engaged us in conversation about all things Lancashire, No fish were caught. it was about at this time that the zip on Sir Hugh;s shorts malfunctioned causing great hilarity to the fisherman and great embarrassment to the wearer. Apologies to anyone in Lancaster whom we shocked or offended.

A pleasant stretch on a lane parallel to the motorway followed, large puddles where evidence of recent rainfall. We were heading for the castle but first we visited the prominent hill forming part of Williamson Park thought to be the site of the witches’ gallows, and now the site of the 9th tercet.  We wandered through attractive parkland and climbed up the baroque Ashton Memorial for views over Lancaster and the surrounding areas. Then it was down busy streets across town passing the Golden Lion pub where the witches were supposed to have been offered a final drink on the way to be hung – an unlikely tale. Incongruously two walkers in shorts, with walking poles, marched through the shopping area and eventually climbed up to the impressive castle gates and the last tercet. A lot of restoration work is going on so we didn’t linger.

Thus we had completed a trail full of interest which deserves to be better known.

The complete poem

‘The Lancashire Witches’ by Carol Ann Duffy

One voice for ten dragged this way once
by superstition, ignorance.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

Witch: female, cunning, manless, old,
daughter of such, of evil faith;
in the murk of Pendle Hill, a crone.

Here, heavy storm-clouds, ill-will brewed,
over fields, fells, farms, blighted woods.
On the wind’s breath, curse of crow and rook.

From poverty, no poetry
but weird spells, half-prayer, half-threat;
sharp pins in the little dolls of death.

At daylight’s gate, the things we fear                                                                                               darken and form. That tree, that rock,
a slattern’s shape with the devil’s dog.

Something upholds us in its palm-
landscape, history, place and time-
and, above, the same old witness moon

below which Demdike, Chattox, shrieked,
like hags, unloved, an underclass,
badly fed, unwell. Their eyes were red.

But that was then- when difference
made ghouls of neighbours; child beggars                                                                                              feral, filthy, threatened in their cowls.

Grim skies, the grey remorse of rain;
sunset’s crimson shame; four seasons,
centuries, turning, in Lancashire,

away from Castle, Jury, Judge,
huge crowd, rough rope, short drop, no grave
only future tourists who might grieve.

Sir Hugh’s own blog tells a similar tale of our progress –  http://conradwalks.blogspot.co.uk/

THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES WALK – Clitheroe to Slaidburn.

The scenery changes today as we leave the Ribble Valley and climb into the Bowland Hills. Rain is forecast and its rather dull in Clitheroe. Canoeists float downstream as we cross the river at Brungerley Bridge  and a group of youngsters are on the field path learning navigation.  We soon leave them behind and cross fields around Waddington, most of the farms/barns look hundreds of years old but many have had expensive makeovers.  Looking back Pendle Hill is in cloud. The hay meadows we pass through are full of flowers and brighten up a dull day. I have a painting at home representing the same scene. As we climb onto the moor on a drove road we realise we have been here together before whilst exploring Easington Fell last winter.There are no views today in the low cloud which is a shame as this is a wild and desolate moor. On the map are marked The Wife and Old Ned but they turn out to be disappointing piles of stones. A good track, presumably shooting, takes us down the fell to a shooting lodge marked as Fell Side. Dogs are caged up and greet us excitedly. At the moment we arrive the rain starts so we are lucky to find shelter and tables outside the lodge, lunch is taken. On the approach I had stuck my walking pole under a stone and a metal trap snapped shut almost breaking it, I couldn’t imagine what it could do to fingers. What are they trying to catch? Our lunchtime was enlivened by a ‘turkey’ parading about in front of the windows. The rain stopped and we continued on our way over a hill and down into Slaidburn, usually seen with a backdrop of Bowland Fells, but not today. Our tercet was in the carpark. The village was busy hosting a small steam fair which kept us entertained for awhile though the crowds and vehicles detractied from the normal tranquility of this lovely village. Familiar paths through woods and then open fields gained height, Curlews and Lapwings became a constant sight and sound. On past a graveyard for farming implements which looked like a ‘herd’ of dinosaurs across the land. We finished the day under the Bowland Fells just before the start of Roman Road over Salter Fell. We will want better visibility for that next section.

 

 

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