Category Archives: Bowland Fells.

A NATURAL HIGH – FAIR SNAPE.

Thursday 15th April.       6 miles.       Fairsnape.

I feel released at last. Well almost.

I’ve been very good during the Pandemic, self-isolating for my own good, not mixing with my family or anyone else really, not travelling outside my area and living off home deliveries. The latter have been excellent, and I’ve put on a few pounds. Today I went high into the Bowland Fells for the first time in months. I felt strangely anxious, not wanting a helicopter rescue. But I have walked this route hundreds of times, it was once my evening fell run.

I parked in my little slot below Saddle End and walked slowly up the fell. As usual, I met no one going this way and I was so slow others would have overtaken me. Skylarks were in full song, and it was a joy to be on the hill.

I took the manufactured track across the side of the fell, but I had to deviate over the flagstones to take in the highest point, the cairn of Fairsnape Fell, 520 m. One can’t come up here without visiting the top, but apparently many do. I was rewarded in solitude with views over to the three Yorkshire Peaks area where friends were walking today – if they could get parked anywhere.

The beeline to Paddy’s Pole, the other summit of Fair Snape, 510 m, was easy as the peat hags had dried up in the last couple of weeks. You can hardly believe the difference in that time from limb sucking bogs to dry, even dusty, peat. Anyhow, I wasn’t complaining.

There was no one at the cairns or trig point on this westerly bit of Fair Snape Fell. I sat and ate an orange looking out to Morecambe Bay and the hazy Lake District. I spent some time scouting out for a flat area suitable for an overnight bivi. Last year, or the year before, I bivied out on Beacon Fell and Longridge Fell and I want to complete the trilogy which was halted last  year.

Then it was fast walking around the fell rim towards Parlick, not forgetting to spot Nick’s Chair [Martin B]

Earlier in the day I’d spotted parapentes in the sky, launching from the more unusual east side of Parlick. I took the track in their direction hoping for some close up photos, but it seemed to be lunchtime. None were in the air. Some were still making their laborious way up. As soon as I was halfway down they stared appearing in the sky once more. I took the steep way down the fell.

Traversing lapwing fields took me back to the road and my solitary car. I managed to buy some excellent free-range eggs at the end of the lane.

Down came the soft top for an exhilarating drive home. I do feel I’ve been released. On a day like today up there in the Bowland Fells you couldn’t feel any different. A natural high.

And then I read this – https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/red-kite-shot-in-cotswolds/

*****

THE BEST OF LAST WEEK.

Tuesday. 16th March.    6miles.    Chipping.

We drive the 4 miles to Chipping and meet up in the village hall car park. I had promised Mike it would be sunny for him to have a morning away from the builders working on his garage. He is pitching the roof, adding solar panels, electric charge point and enlarging his drive with stone sets etc. etc. I think it is a larger job than he had first envisaged, though he should know. Anyhow there was no sign of the sun, in fact it was grey and cold when we set off at 9.30.

This is a walk we have done many times, but it makes use of, on the whole, well surfaced farm tracks in the foothills of the Bowland Hills. The snowdrops in the grounds of Leagram Hall had finished flowering which was a shame though there were primroses on the lane banks. From Laund sheep farm we cut across to renovated Park Gate where the only field of the day linked up with tracks at the empty Park Style. This whole area is rough upland and the Lapwings and Curlews were in good evidence today. They get a chance to breed up here as the fields don’t get cut until later in the year, if ever. A pair of Buzzards are soaring high above. Down one of the tracks we see a stoat in its white winter coat running ahead of us, quite exciting. At Lickhurst  we meet up with the bridleway coming from Saddle Side, not taken today because it is very boggy in parts. There were notices on the gate warning people not to take vehicles along it. This is the first time I’ve seen this but apparently during lockdown 4X4s have been coming out in the night on these lanes. Of course most of them have been registered in Manchester/Liverpool, often with no tax or insurance. There  are a group of people who think they can do what they like and escape notice during lockdown.  The track has been severely damaged by these morons.

We walk on down the road and over three bridges which have replaced fords in the time I’ve lived in the area,  Lickhurst could be impossible to reach after heavy winter rain in the past. I show Mike the long single span clapper bridge, 6 metres of solid grit stone, and we wonder how they handled it here. It must have been brought here from some distance as all is limestone in the vicinity. Upstream is a fish ladder I’ve not noticed before.

We walk on past that isolated iconic red phone box…

We have friends living in the next group of houses and we have a chat and an illicit coffee over the garden wall. Sheila has a heavenly glow in the photo. The bridleway leading onwards crosses the beck encountered  before at a ford, fortunately there is a footbridge just up stream, [Greystoneley Brook which soon joins the Hodder at Stakes Farm near the stepping stones] This whole area has had its trees harvested last year and looks very bare, but thousands of new trees have been planted so it will be interesting to see how it matures.

The lane passes close to a large almost intact lime kiln in an extensive quarry, another detour. At the end of the lane we meet a chatty horse rider.

On the road back Mike met a retired school teacher who was responsible for getting his children off to a good start. More catching up chat ensues. With all the ‘delays’ we don’t get back to the car till nearly 2pm by which time the sun has come out.

*****

*****

Whilst mentioning the birds we saw today I should also like to report that most evenings while I’ve been bouldering up on the fell a pair of barn owls have been quartering the open areas, a majestic sight as they fly past close by without a sound. The days are getting noticeably longer and there have been some beautiful sunsets to coincide with the Spring equinox.

 

 

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CLIMB LONGRIDGE FELL.

Tuesday 9th March.     11miles.    Longridge Fell.

My last walk, at the weekend with Mike, was through the fields and lanes of Chipping Vale with a little nibble at the west end of Longridge Fell. All very repetitive, so much so I didn’t take a single  photo but the conversation must have been good. A couple of days have been spent festering, you know how it is. Today started slowly until I made the effort to get going and put some mileage under my belt. Starting from home the obvious way to increase my mileage was to continue along the road to the north of Longridge Fell before striking to the top. I noticed a few more roadside signs on the way.

Leaving Longridge.

Lee House Church.

Exquisite carved trough.

?origin.

C17th Thornley Hall.

Entering Chaigley. Note the rake as a notch in the fell side woods.

I did consider going all the way to Higher Hodder Bridge but as I hadn’t set out till 1pm I thought it a little ambitious. [another time] I left the road at Rakefoot Farm and climbed the steep rake from there up onto the fell east of the summit. Once on the ridge I threaded my familiar way through the trees and into the open at the trig point. There was nobody else about. From up here one gets a bird’s eye view of the Thornley road below which I’d walked earlier.

It is all downhill from Jeffrey Hill to Longridge, a good way to end the afternoon.

*****

JEFFREY HILL.

Wednesday.  3rd March.     8.5 miles.    Longridge.

The last couple of days I’ve been out bouldering in all that lovely sunshine.  My arms and shoulders are now rebelling. I felt like a longer walk so planned this one on roads for today. It was grey and cold this morning, so I managed to faff around until after a light lunch, brisk walking was then the order of the day. The road through Thornley doesn’t always have a pavement so dodging from side to side on the corners is necessary. I passed Lord’s Lane and Birks Brow, two regular ways up onto the fell and continued on past Thornley Hall to climb the steep lane up Jeffrey Hill, this part of Longridge Fell. [see inserted map and elevation graph]

Even today there were plenty of cars in the car park by Cardwell House, but they would not have any views as the Bowland Hills were in cloud.

Cutting through Cowley Brook plantation, my latest discovery, avoided a little of the road to the Newdrop. I was then on the switchback road heading down to Longridge. It wasn’t a day for taking pictures or for meeting people so I was soon back home but glad of the exercise.

I wonder if they have published the minutes yet.

The steep bit.

Misty parking at Jeffrey Hill.

Cowley Brook Plantation.

*****

BLUE SKY DAYS.

Wednesday  10th January.   6.5 miles.    Bleasdale.

Thursday  11th January.  8.5 miles.     Longridge Fell.

Friday  12th January.  7 miles.  Beacon Fell.

You just had to be out these last three days, perfect dry and sunny conditions. I managed three walks and enjoyed blue skies each day on the lanes around Longridge. Below is a snapshot of each day.

For the trip around Bleasdale I met up with Mike and despite the forecast of below zero temperatures there was no wind so it felt almost like a spring day. We extended the walk from Bleasdale Tower to Delph Lane as we were enjoying the conditions so much. I’m glad we did as it gave a sighting of a barn owl flying low in front of us.  The coast looked very near in the clear conditions.

 


***

The next day I had just intended to follow the road loop up onto Longridge Fell, but I couldn’t resist the continuation up to the trig point and into the forest, the usually boggy terrain was frozen solid. The Bowland Hills are virtually clear of snow whereas Pendle looks plastered. On the return I wandered into plantations at Cowley Brook, I had seen cars parked here previously, and I found new leisure tracks opened up by the water board, I will have to visit again for a full exploration.

***

Today I drove a short distance out of town and walked the quiet lanes up to Beacon Fell, there were a few people about near the summit but I virtually had the place to myself. All was still and peaceful. I wonder if we will get any more snow this winter?

***

 

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

SOME WHITECHAPEL LANES.

Saturday 2nd January. 2021.               5 miles.                 Whitechapel.

The four miles drive, hopefully allowed in Tier 4, to Whitechapel was treacherous after a severe overnight frost. Mike had already arrived in the Village Hall car park in his 4X4. We had planned to walk on the lanes to avoid the boggy fields, but the lanes turned out to be of ice rink quality. The modest circuit south of Beacon Fell was completed without incidence. I didn’t take many photos as we chatted away.

Old School House. Whitechapel.

St James’ Church. 1738. The village was named after it.

The Cross Keys. Recently renovated but yet to open. In the past nicknamed ‘The Dorchester’

Two girls climbed out of this last night!

Lucky.

Snowy weather.

Crombleholme Fold.

Eccles Moss Farm.

*****

SOME CHIPPING LANES.

Wednesday 30th December.       6.5miles.       Chipping.

The days over Xmas have been all of a sameness, and now we are heading into a new year. Getting out in the good weather has helped the old year drift away. Mike is back from his family Christmas in Leeds, so we meet up in Chipping. I park next to the Village Memorial Hall which Mike designed way back in 1999, it is still looking good. We set off along past the Congregational Chapel and Club Row cottages.  If you have a spare hour or so for a walk around Chipping Village and need some history have a look at  http://www.chippinghistory.co.uk/page4.html

The lanes are virtually traffic free, and we have views across the misty valley to a wintry Pendle and Longridge Fell [header photo].  Passing a few scattered farms we start climbing towards the hills.

Chipping Village Hall.

All of a sudden a silent glider flashes above  us coming in low to land in the field alongside. This is Chipping Gliding Club. Their gliders are often seen above the Bleasdale ridges. Around the corner the lanes were clogged with the parked cars of the masses climbing Parlick perhaps for some sledging for the children.

We carried on uphill before plunging down an icy stretch to the buildings of  Wolfen Mill, a former water powered mill making spindles and bobbins for local mills. Up again, and we are on the remote road to Saddle Fell and beyond, classical Bowland scenery. Our roller coaster continued by Birchen Lee and Chipping Lawn sheep farm into the parkland of Leagram before the narrow streets of Chipping. What a splendid little walk ending with another of those late December skies.

*****

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow.  I’m now  able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.

Thornley Horse Trough.

Wheatley Farm. 1774.

People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.

Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.

*****

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.

Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.

In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….

… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases  nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/

There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.

That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed  metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.

I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.

*****

A SHORT BREAK IN THE WEATHER.

Saturday  12th December.    4miles.    Beacon Fell.

  I can just see Beacon Fell from my house so when Mike suggested a walk, if it stopped raining, I checked it out. Most of the morning it was in deep clag and at lunchtime it was still raining but about 1pm there was brightness coming in from the west.

We met up for our socially distanced walk at the Quarry car park which is usually quieter than the rest. The tracks were busy with families and dog walkers, this has become the norm during these lockdown days.  A quick obligatory visit to the trig point had us chatting to friends. There were a lot of fit looking people running around clutching maps, and we realised there was an orienteering competition in progress – South Ribble Orienteering Club one of the oldest in the country

Our way off the fell was through one of those woodland memorial grounds. We watched a roe deer at a distance, it had a very bright rump and seemed unable to escape the fencing. These are magic moments recalling J B Priestly’s classic 1949 book ‘Delight’ in which he wrote of the many joys to be found in even the simplest things. Worth a read if you can find it.

The path was only slippery at the bottom where we entered coppiced woodland. On the road was Fell Side Farm which I’d never really noticed with its date stone lintel,1707. Of course Mike had been inside in the past.

The normally quiet lane was busy with traffic which turned out to be from a ‘cut your own’ Xmas tree sale at Higher Lickhurst. Once past this we had the lane to ourselves around the base of the fell to pick up a farm track and a steep climb back towards the top. Down below a pheasant/partridge shoot was in progress and the shots seemed frighteningly close. No further comment.

It stayed dry for the two hours we were out and the minimal effort to get some exercise and chat paid off.  Here are a few random photos of the day.

A gloomy summit.

Last checkpoint.

Would this help?

Grade II Listed Fell Side.  [Rebuilt].

1709.

Will it fit?

Crow Trees Farm.  Strangely this made me think of  ‘A Message To You Rudy’…

 

  The sun was setting as I drove home for mince pies.

*****

CALDER VALE FROM BLEASDALE.

Thursday  10th December.      6.5 miles.          Calder Vale.

 

My last visit to Calder Vale was in February just before the lockdowns commenced. Almost a whole year gone when I have been restricted by one Covid measure or another, its grim up North. That day I walked through the yard of Cobble Hey who run a popular farm café,  they were due to open the next day for the season. Speaking to a girl there today they have  been barely able to function at all, the customers just disappeared.  She was hoping for better things next year.

The route I had planned for today had me approaching the Calder from above using paths untravelled. I parked at the summit of Stang Yule, the road linking my area to Dolphinholme across the edge of the Bleasdale Hills. All was grey all around me. The distant Fylde Coast a blur and the surrounding fell tops uninviting.

At the first farm I came to, Rough Moor, a couple were planting a new hawthorn hedge, well over 600 plants, I admired their enthusiasm and the renovated farm and barns will become desirable country living advertised in Lancashire Life. At least they had provided good stiles and waymarking around the property. As you walk down the hillside there is no clue that below is the once thriving mill village. I passed a few more smart houses before walking through the grounds of St. John’s Church and adjoining school. The church and school were built in this rather isolated position as they served both the Calder Vale and Oakenclough communities. A path leads down through the woods into Calder Vale, I wonder how many children still walk this way to school each day.

There is plenty to see in the village which always seems busy because of the working mill in the centre, There are remnants of the water power from the Calder, workers’ cottages, Methodist Chapel, manager’s house and the large Lappet Mill itself. The post office and village shop have closed and there is no sign of the Temperance Hotel. I left your Christmas presents under the tree.

I departed the village by a stile and age-old stone steps onto a lane linking to farms on the fell above. They all had a sad and unkempt look about them on this grey day.

Lots of wet fields led me to Cobble Hey which as I said was deserted and I certainly didn’t expect to meet this Juggernaut on a narrow farm lane.

The paths through the next few fields were untrodden even this year when the world and his dog have been out exercising. My legs became more and more splattered with mud and I don’t know what else. On reaching Delph Lane I could have easily walked up it to my car but something made me obstinately carry on with my planned route. The footpath was sensibly diverted around the next  farm, High Moor, but I was apprehensive as I approached Broadgate, a typical sprawling shambles of a farm – more industrial than agricultural. My GPS proved essential to navigate through. The continuing lane was a  mess from timber extraction.

I knew the next field to be muddier than most from a visit a few years back with my old mate Mel, sadly deceased this year. We had set off on a simple walk in trainers on the estate roads around Bleasdale when I suddenly spotted a footpath leaving the dry lanes across this very field. I cannot repeat his comments as we slowly sank into the almost knee-high mud but kept going nonetheless and laughed about later in the pub. That’s what friends are for. Today I was heading in the opposite direction towards the big house, Bleasdale Tower which looks austere at the best of times – I often imagine a face at that upper window, Rochester and Jane Eyre below. Today I just get the face of a friendly sheep in the paddock below.

I’ve touched on the interesting history of the Bleasdale Estate in previous posts.

Today as the afternoon wore on I had an easy walk back up the estate road to my car at the high spot. It was still grey all around but I’d perversely enjoyed the afternoon though I doubt few others would have.

*****

I’ve just come back from the supermarket where outside a class of junior children were singing carols. I was emotional today, and they brought tears to my eyes which is always difficult when wearing a mask.

*****

 

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

THE FYLDE AROUND GREAT ECCLESTON.

Wednesday 2nd December.  6.5 miles.  Great Eccleston.

Great Eccleston is a village in the Fylde, that often gloomy and flat area of Lancashire not known for its walking. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has ancestry. It is known locally for its traditional shops, good pubs, a weekly market and its annual agricultural show which incorporates tractor pulling competitions, a niche motor sport. I parked up at noon on a sunny day, one needs the bright sun on these featureless landscapes. There was a bit of a market in the main street. I noticed one of the pubs has closed. There is an old pinfold down the street.

I left by Leckonby House, named after a wealthy local who bankrupted himself and ended up In Lancaster Prison. There was a C18th dovecote strangely isolated in the next field.

The St. Annes church at Copp was a prominent landmark up the road. It was established here in 1723 halfway between Gt. Eccleston and Elswick as a chapel of ease for St. Michaels. Nearby is a local primary school and opposite the old schoolhouse. It seems odd that the school is so isolated but I suppose it followed the church originally.

Elswick down the road is another small village on the road to Blackpool famous for its ice cream parlour. Also tucked next to the United Reformed church is an old chapel with a date stone of 1671 when this area was a centre for Nonconformity. The chapel is rather plain and has a house built onto it, it is now used as a hall for the adjacent church.

It was time to take to the boggy fields just as a hail storm blew through giving rainbows over the distant Bowland Fells.

Another stretch of lanes led towards drainage and flood defences. Here I got tangled up in barbed wire fences obstructing the right of way, later contacting the local authority they already knew of the problem. Surely the fencing contractors should be made aware of the need for stiles in the appropriate places. At last, I was on the embankment and following the Wyre downstream, a popular route for dog walkers. Walking around the loop was fast and easy which was needed as the sun was beginning to set. I had time to look at the Cartford toll bridge and the adjacent pub which has been modernised since I used to drink here 40 years ago. More rainbows appeared with the passing showers.

Being back here reminded me of a rather disastrous day walking the start of the Wyre Way.

The lights were on when I arrived back in Great Eccleston’s marketplace.

*****

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****

 

THE LOWER RIVER BROCK.

Friday 27th November.  7 miles.  Inglewhite.

I have done quite a bit of walking on the River Brock recently, in fact most of it from the source to Brock Bottom. Today we walk onwards towards the Wyre a less frequented destination,  I was expecting a lot of boggy fields with awkward stiles and yes that’s what we found.

Leaving the village green of Inglewhite with its market cross we were amazed at the development spreading out into the surrounding fields. It all looked rather fine country living but where will it end. Anyhow, we splodged on to escape on to a minor road just ahead of a herd of inquisitive, threatening  bullocks.

We could relax and chat for the next mile or so until we dropped on an old way to the River Brock. There was a footbridge crossing into the Brock Bottom Mill site, I’ve written about this before. Today we walked on past the mill sites and through fields to Walmsley Bridge.

Then more fields with the River Brock cascading down hidden falls until we seemed to be in someone’s vast garden alongside the river with the no doubt grand house hidden to our left, Brock Side. It is great walking with Mike, an architect, because he seems to have been involved one way or another in the past with many of these rural redevelopments. His, no doubt up to the best standards.

After a bridge and weir the Brock has been tamed along the next stretch by concrete walls. A private road runs alongside to a dead end and a footbridge. On the left, half in someone’s garden, is the remains of a water powered mill, Matshead paper mill. Over the footbridge a lane follows the river downstream under the motorway, railway and canal to disappear without rights of way into the Wyre. No longer the bubbly Brock from Bleasdale.  There is another weir by the road and the site of the old Brock Station, closed in 1939 to passengers and 1954 to freight, now utilised as a nature reserve.

 

Off to join the Wyre.

Back to the footbridge we were supposed to turn into a yard and follow a path between houses and barns. All I could see was a gate into a ‘private’ garden but Mike spotted someone and asked where the footpath went and was somewhat begrudgingly told – through the gate and past the garage. I doubt few will brave this way. We emerged from a series of gates and gardens back into the fields where all was rural again with open views to the Bleasdale Fells and Beacon Fell.

These fields lead us to Bilsborrow Hall Farm, the hall itself is well hidden in woods across the way. We trusted to our directional sense to find a way through what was more of an industrial site than a farm.

The next short stretch of road was scattered with expensive looking residences, some more pleasing to the eye than others.

More awkward stiles and soggy fields led us back to Inglewhite and the Green Man, closed of course.

 

I have wonderful memories of Doreen playing the piano, despite her worsening Alzheimer’s, at lunchtime in August 2019.

 

*****

AROUND MIDDLE KNOLL.

                                                                                  MIDDLE KNOLL.

Thursday  26th November.    7.75 miles.     Dunsop Bridge.

I thought I would incorporate some  possible fish jumping into today’s walk, as I had failed on the Hodder awhile back, so I chose to walk up the waterboard road from Dunsop Bridge. First problem was the road through Whitewell was closed diverting me over via Cow Ark and backtracking  from Newton. I was still early enough to get a free parking place. The mist was just rising as I started up the valley. This is a familiar track for me but I always enjoy the view up the valley with Middle Knoll centrestage, even though today he was slow to appear… I stopped at the fish ladders on the River Dunsop just below where the Brennand and Whitendale converge. No luck, no fish, so I carried on thinking I could spend more time later in the day. You are soon into the Brennand Valley with the farm down below and views into deepest Bowland. It is awhile since I’ve been on this lower track, last time I was here with JD we did a direct ascent up Middle Knoll to satisfy my curiosity of Blue Scar, which proved disappointing.

The Brennand Valley.

Looking back into Brennand.

My route up to the col between the two valleys was as wet as usual. Views back to Brennand Fells were replaced with a bird’s eye views down to Whitendale Farm. It was a steep descent.

Looking back into Brennand.

Wet going.

Whitendale Farm.

Looking back at the steep descent into Whitendale.

This is Duchy of Lancaster land owned by the Queen and yet United Utilities [NW water] seem to manage much of the land as a water catchment area. My way back down the Dunsop valley in fact follows a pipeline taking water to Blackburn. It is a good level track overlooking the valley and I make good progress. In the past I have cycled up the water board road and hidden my bike hereabouts before taking to foot up the rough Whitendale valley, a good tip for exploring deep into Bowland. Today I rest awhile at the river intakes where concrete steps control the waters. Still no sign of fish but it is always good to see the rural postie driving by.

The pipe.

Costy Clough.

Wot? No fish.

The sun comes back out and gives lovely low lighting in the valley. I’m soon back at the car and a Covid takeaway coffee from Puddleducks Café.  It looks like I’ve missed out on the fish going upstream this year but I’ve earmarked several possibilities for next season.

Did some of those pictures remind you of Scotland?

*****

 

GOING HIGH[ish] – FAIRSNAPE.

Sunday  22nd November.  7.5miles.   Fairsnape, Chipping.

A chance comment from Sir Hugh last week – “glad to see you going high, or highish” when I hadn’t really, up above the Hodder. Time to put things right with the highest fell close to me in Bowland, at 520 m, Fairsnape.  [Pendle Hill I climbed a few weeks ago is 557 m, Sir Hugh must have missed that one, but is now out of my self-imposed lockdown driving limit]

I pull in at a little parking spot on that lonely road heading into the hills above Chipping. This  used to my fell running circuit, up Saddle Side over to Fairsnape and down over Parlick. I decide today to do it in the opposite direction, something new. I play with my camera in panorama mode trying to catch the scene, the result is the header photo.

Walking down the lane I drop into Wolfen Mill, now a group of holiday lets. The Chipping Brook which powered the mill here continues down past several abandoned watermills above Chipping.

Chipping Brook.

Wolfen Mill pond.

As I follow the estate road a rainbow develops over the fells, more fiddling with my camera.

Wolfen Hall, now bypassed by the right of way, was once the old Manor House dating back from C13th. In those days it was said to be a lookout post for marauding wolves! It has been comprehensively rebuilt and the adjacent kennels are a noisy reminder of its present hunting credentials.

I reach Fell Foot and meet the crowds coming up the lane, I estimate well over 60 cars parked down there. Typical lockdown weekend.

As the majority stagger straight up and down the front face of Parlick I take the contouring path round the side but do make the effort to complete the climb to the summit. Everyone is enjoying the day, even the children, and glad to chat.

Around the rim I pace myself along the well-used track. There is nobody sat on Nick’s Chair today, most don’t even notice it.

As I arrive at the 510 m summit I’m trying to get a photo of the scene when along the ridge come three friends. We compare our routes and then pass on, they down with the crowds and I across the peat hags to reach the true summit.

Paddy’s Pole, shelter and trig point.

Visibility is good for this dodgy stretch where you can flounder into serious bog if not careful. I was the only one at the cairn but a man appeared from the delights of Fiensdale looking rather bedraggled.

The true 520 m summit.

On I went using the decent track eastwards and bump straight into Pete, a photographer friend who is compiling a new book on Bowland. He is laden down with long lensed expensive cameras and hasn’t come far. More catching up in these strange days when you don’t see your friends for months.

There are some well-used tracks down Saddle Fell, probably old sledge ways for gathering peat. I stray to look across at Burnslack Fell and down to the remote Burnslack ‘farmsteads’, this gives me the idea to extend my walk around the fell to visit this isolated spot.

Burnslack Fell.

Burnslack farms.

Burnslack Valley.

Burnslack Farm.

Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.

As I wander back up the lane to my car hail showers blow in – winter’s coming.

*****

THE INFANT HODDER.

Thursday 19th November.  5miles.    Cross of Greet Bridge.

I remember walking The Hodder Way 15 years ago to check the route description for an upcoming guide. We started on the watershed high on that lonely road from Slaidburn to Bentham. Next to the road is the base of the medieval Cross of Greet.  A large irregular block of sandstone with a flat top having a rectangular socket, once marking the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. This road is a favourite with cyclists continuing over Tatham Fell and perhaps making the return over Clapham Common and Bowland Knotts. This morning the whole area looked appealing in the sunshine.

From up here the Hodder starts its journey and snakes down the valley.

Back at the Cross of Greet Bridge I parked up, the Hodder is already in full flow.  The bridge is strictly utilitarian. The path alongside the river was underwater, so I headed for higher ground. Rough going was to be expected and the side streams became more and more difficult to cross. I had nagging doubts about whether it was wise to set off when there was so much water about. Everywhere was awash. I was pleased to arrive at the ford over Kearsden Beck dry footed, thanks to my new boots, but the water here was too deep and fast flowing, so I scouted upstream for another crossing finding one without too much difficulty and hopped across.

Spot the barn.

Un-fordable ford.

A hop across.

Now back on dry land I was climbing uphill above Catlow farm to a solitary barn on the skyline, seen in one of the photos above.

Remote Catlow Farm.

Sinkhole marked on the map.

 

That barn.

Old cart.

Pendle portrait.

Bowland Knotts were beyond if I’d fancied an even rougher pathless walk but I decided to traverse the hillside towards New House barn with Stocks Reservoir and Pendle ahead. I was now on the upper half of the Stocks Reservoir walk which I knew well. Up here above the Hodder I can see across the valley to Lamb Hill where I’m heading. Steeply down to the footbridge over the Hodder where I remember stepping stones, they would have been underwater today. The ruined farm of Collyholme is barely recognisable.

New House Barn.

Lamb Hill across the valley.

Collyholme.

 

The steep pull up to the road has been paved in places which was a help in these boggy conditions. I could have just walked back along the road but there is a footpath marked going up to Lamb Hill farm which I followed.  The farm has massive modern barns making the house virtually invisible.

Lamb Hill Farm.

Across the valley Bowland Knotts filled the scene. A footpath of sorts weaved through and on down the sodden fields. I came out onto the road just above the bridge but wanted to investigate some riverside sheep pens I’d noticed earlier. Climbing over a fence and going through dead bracken gave me a bird’s eye view of the extensive walled folds. These must have been used in the past when bringing the sheep off the fells and sorting them, I doubt they are in present use. The world has moved on even up here.

The road over the fells.

A short day but what a beautiful remote area.

*****

PONIES ON THE FELL.

Tuesday.  November 17th.  5 miles.  Longridge Fell.

What a gift for my ‘a new experience every walk during this lockdown’. Fell ponies welcomed Rod and I to the summit of Longridge Fell. I’ve never seen them up there before and I have no idea where they come from. Three healthy looking, sleek, black ponies. They were used to human presence and searched our pockets for food. It is not a good idea to feed ponies as I believe  they can become ill quickly.

We had arranged to meet on the fell road as we hadn’t seen each other for 6months. A little inventiveness had to be used to get parked amongst all the other lockdown ramblers. I warned Rod in advance to wear boots as everywhere off track is decidedly gloopy. Certainly on the last quarter of a mile from where we had left the forest road it was difficult to stay on solid ground.

The sun shone a little into the Vale of Chipping below us and the Bowland Hills looked – well just like they always look, majestic, if a little hazy. I steered a way through the woods along the ridge avoiding the worst of the mud and the fallen trees. We then made our way back on the solid ground of the main track and caught up with each other’s news, restricted as it is. Home in time for a late lunch before it rained. See you after Christmas Rod? Strange times.

*****