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.
My birthday happens to coincide with the date Lockdown commenced last year. There seemed quite a fuss about this [not my birthday], whilst I have every sympathy with the thousands of families affected by Covid deaths and they should not be forgotten, I am not one for lighting candles or creating memorial days for an event we have not dealt with very satisfactorily. I would almost go so far as to say they are devious attempts by the government to distract our attention from the failings and flag wave for our vaccine successes. Dangerous tactics.
Back to today’s walk, which I have completed many times recently, to make an occasion of it I took a picnic with me to enjoy higher up. Last year I visited the limestone quarry opposite Arbour Farm occasionally for its wildlife so as I pass today I have a look in. There are a couple of roe deer scampering away and a hare following. It’s too soon for any significant flowers but there a few mallards on the water and pheasants taking cover. In the past this area has been used as a shoot and the birds fed in the season. All around are spent shotgun cartridges. I take particular note as I’ve just been reading a DEFRA report of the latest attempts to ban lead ammunition. Lead ammunition could be phased out under government plans to help protect wildlife and nature, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced today (23 March). There has been a wealth of evidence that lead is damaging to humans, wildlife and the environment and yet a large amount of lead ammunition is discharged every year. Apart from the yearly slaughter of birds there is research showing wild fowl ingest lead pellets, mistaken for food, causing considerable deaths from poisoning. The Government have been slow to do anything about it and a voluntary transition by the shooting industry has not worked. A recent review showed the majority of game birds sold to the public had been killed using lead shot. So all change then – well not quite – the Government is proposing a two-year review of the evidence and then public consideration. A typical fudge when the hunting and shooting brigade are involved. Why don’t we just get on and ban it now. [In Denmark, hunters have had to use alternatives since 1996, when lead shot was banned]
Moving on I made my way up onto the fell and found a sheltered spot for my simple Birthday picnic in a little quarry nearby. I have recently started climbing in here again after many years, there is a small wall suitable for bouldering away from the Covid crowds that are making themselves unwelcome at the usual bouldering spot, Craig Y Longridge. It is up here that I have been regularly seeing Barn Owls flying around at dusk. Today a kestrel was hovering not far from me and a pair of Buzzards were wheeling high in the sky. Nice place for a picnic in the sun.
I wander home down the switchback lane. I had various texts etc appear on my phone from absent friends and family and in my porch a box of beer and a single malt. Not such a bad birthday after all.
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.
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.
Lee House Church.
Exquisite carved trough.
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.
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.
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?
Again I set off from home on familiar paths to Gill Bridge where I skated up the icy road before I took the path along Elmridge. Elmridge is a small eminence in the Vale of Chipping between the Bleasdale Fells and Longridge Fell, its position giving it good views of the area. These views are better on the road across the top rather than on my footpath along the southern side, but I’d not walked this way for several years. A friend has moved into a little house along here, so I was able to have a few words in passing. The family have adopted lots of stray kittens and have some fine fowl. The next farm along, again owned by a friend who has recently died is surrounded by woodlands that he planted over the years, a fitting memorial.
It wasn’t the clearest of days but Longridge Fell was always there.
In Hesketh Lane I passed the site of an old mill now strangely used as a depot for a local coach firm. The mill stream is clearly visible and a notice tells of recently installed fish ladders to allow fish and eels access higher up the stream. The Dog and Partridge is sadly closed, like several other old inns of the area. Notice the cheese press stone, a common sight in this area of Lancashire. I took the curiously named Judd Holmes Lane through frozen fields leading me back to the Knott Farm where I was the other day.. This time I made the detour to visit the little church at Lee House. Be sure to have a look at – https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Chipping/stwilliam/index.html for some interesting history.
I then joined the crowds walking along the pavements to Longridge. We should all be a lot fitter after this pandemic is over.
The main road from Longridge to Chipping, which is busier than ever, passes through the small parish of Thornley with Wheatley which you won’t have heard of. It is not a village but merely a scattering of houses and farms. Today’s walk came this way. I’m resigned to those local footpaths that I walked to death in last Spring’s lockdown, but I’m looking for variations. Yesterday it rained continuously, and I didn’t get out of my dressing gown such is the tedium of Covid-19 lockdown that brings inertia on me one or two days a week. But today the sun shone and I had roughly plotted this route the night before which gives a degree of impetus to get up and go.
I leave Longridge along a rather boggy Clay Lane, the snow has gone and the frost is dispersing. Back in the last century there were tile works hereabouts. I was soon across the fields to Gill Bridge over the infant River Loud, today running fast with melt water. I traversed the estate of Blackmoss owned by the Lord Derby family since the C18th. The Derby Arms in is just up the road as is Thornley Hall. Vague paths which I know well crossed over to The Knott farm which is lying empty since the farmer died last year. He was seeped in the land and always seen in his tweed jacket and wellington’s, you could always tell if he was in the local supermarket by a distinct manure odour. He would turn up at my house occasionally with either a tray of 36 eggs or a basket of field mushrooms if they were in season. His sort will be sadly missed.
The empty Knott Farm
I recrossed the Loud and took the little lanes past Wheatley Farm house, 1774, at the base of Longridge Fell. Down the road is Lee House RC church and the old Thornley School which I didn’t visit and wished I had.
Lane to Wheatley.
Eventually I had to commit to the climb past Dale House and into the woods before coming out onto the golf course above. I was then back on that road leading back to Longridge which I’ve used regularly the last few weeks.
Dale House farm.
Parlick and Fairsnape from the golf course.
Old gate post to Longridge Golf Course established with Preston Cycling Club.
A short diversion was taken to see if I could get a photo of that highland cow with its calf. I managed a better picture of the mother but the infant kept its backside to me. A friend was climbing at Craig y Longridge our local bouldering venue and others were out running up the fell, everyone taking advantage of the sunny weather. An extract from The Lancashire Village Book gives more history here – http://www.visitoruk.com/Blackburn/thornley-with-wheatley-C592-V28146.html
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Bowland through the barn.
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.
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.
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.
Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.
As I wander back up the lane to my car hail showers blow in – winter’s coming.
I’ve just returned from a short but worthwhile walk over Longridge Fell on some paths I don’t ever remember using before.
Walker Fold consists of maybe six houses but has won Lancashire Best Hamlet accolade in the past. I park up next to the village seat. I’m late today, faffing in the morning and then calling in at Craig Y Longridge on the way up the fell and chatting to an old climbing friend. There were too many people climbing today with no social distancing, so I continued on my way.
Craig Y Longridge.
I wasn’t sure whether this was their winter log pile or part of the construction of the porch…
It is misty and the sun has disappeared for the day. My path is not signed from the road but there is a stile as there are in the next few field boundaries. There is no evidence of recent use but I get through, just. The heavily forested slope of Longridge Fell are up on my right. There is well-marked diversion navigating me around Chaigley Hall Farm, in ruins the last time I passed, if only other landowners would do the same. I now join a line of stunted trees and a sunken track which has the feel of antiquity linking to the next farm. I pass a seat I used on a hot day back in August, today’s view of Pendle is totally different.
Chaigley Hall Farm.
Coming out at Kemple End I meet the crowds, cars parked everywhere and a steady stream of folk using the forest tracks. At times there are more dogs than people, what a contrast to the quiet fields on the Chaigley side. Another old climbing friend approaches me coming down the track. We catch up on news, I’m sorry to hear that he badly injured himself mountain biking in Gisburn Forest a couple of years ago and now is unable to climb or walk long distances. A sobering thought as bikers swoosh past. Some tracks they have created are death defying and I encounter one later on my steep descent of the fell.
I leave the main track and creep through the trees to that well known viewpoint overlooking the Chipping valley with the background of the Bowland Hills. It is all rather hazy today but I can pick out Walker Fold and my car way down below. The footpath is steep and slippy but nothing compared to the near vertical mountain biking courses alongside.
My steep way.
Mountain bikers’ direct way.
I spot a vivid toadstool growing in the farm at the bottom.
Driving home I hear the welcome news on the radio that Trump has been defeated, although he may mount legal challenges. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the USA will come out of its last divisive four years and move forward as a respected nation.
I’m stood at the entrance to Sainsbury’s giving my hands a good sanitising wash and wiping down the handles of my basket. Probably a half dozen other shoppers pass me going straight into the isles without even the most rudimentary hand sanitisation. The scientists say we have to go into stricter measures to combat the virus. The politicians vacillate. The public obviously can’t be bothered. Go back six months to April and I had stopped coming out to shop, home deliveries were the thing. People stepped aside to let you pass on the pavement. We clapped the NHS on a Thursday. What’s changed? The virus hasn’t, the scientific advice hasn’t – ‘way past the worst scenario’. Unfortunately the politicians have stopped daily updates, too much bad news – 274 deaths today. So the public have stopped listening.
I’m not sure I will be coming out to Sainsbury’s again, could it be classified as a superspreader?
This afternoon as the sun came out I felt emboldened with my new boots to walk some sodden field paths around Longridge. I used these in the height of lockdown for relatively safe exercise as one didn’t meet anyone. Time to resort to them once more as the local virus count escalates. We have been in the third tier restrictions for a while.
Back in Spring, remember that lovely weather when we were all frightened, these paths were well-used by locals getting their daily exercise. Today I feel I’m the only one.
I splodge on through the wet fields. I’m out in the open and free and get my fill of views to all the surrounding hills.
I calm down and cross the road into Little Town Dairy who have continued to keep their shop and café open during the present crisis. Notice the clever use of milky flowers on their sign. I meet up with the matriarch of the family business, and we talk about past times. Somehow I end up in her kitchen where all the family decisions are enacted.
By the time I get to Sainsbury’s the sun is setting.
Sorry but I won’t be calling in to my local pub. The country needs an efficient lockdown now.*****
Little Bowland is the area west of the Hodder River below the Totridge fells. Limestone predominates giving springy turf to walk on. There is one minor road through the centre.
I often walk in this area but today, a hot sunny Sunday, I find some new paths and ascend a little hill previously missed. What follows is a rather dull description of this beautiful area.
I park near the entrance to Leagram Hall and walk up the lane through the park. As usual there are hundreds of sheep at Laund Farm, supposedly Blue Faced Leicesters. I take a track off to the right going over a hill to cross Leagram Brook at ParkGate farm where there has been a minor path diversion. Over more hills and down to Park Style which was being renovated last time I passed, there has been some progress but it looks unloved and deserted. So onwards to pass the buildings of Lickhurst and over a limestone knoll to Dinkling Green, another cluster of houses. Don’t they have some nice names around here. I usually continue further into limestone country from here but today walk down their farm lane until a sunken track takes me over a little col and down to that minor road I mentioned. I become distracted here by some crags just off the road. On closer inspection they are low and broken but there are some fine Maidenhair spleenwort ferns growing out of cracks.
Down the lane is a quarried reef knoll where there is some hard bouldering.
On reaching it I decide to climb the hill behind as there are no intervening walls as far as I can see. New Laund Hill a modest 229m. though what a fantastic view point it turns out to be. North up the Hodder towards the Trough Of Bowland and its surrounding fells, distant Pen-Y-Ghent, Waddington Fell and then down the Hodder to Longridge Fell and Chipping Vale.
By coming up this way I miss New Laund Farm and Fairy Hole caves. Through the interesting buildings of Fair Oak, a barn has a date stone 1729, and on to Higher Greystoneley, my friends are out so I miss out on a brew.
I hardly recognised the next bridleway as most of the trees seem to have been cut down since the last time I was here.
There is another limestone quarry behind the prominent limekiln. I have a poke about and find some interesting faces which could be worth exploration.
I always have difficulty over the last stretch, there is a crucial bridge over Leagram Brook and I struggle to find it. I admire the mature trees in the park… … and contemplate the symmetry of Pendle and Longridge Fells.
I’ve not been for a walk for a couple of weeks – too busy posting about Hen Harriers.
It was good to get out today with JD for a gentle stroll up Longridge Fell. It needed to be gentle in view of my physical state and the oppressive heat we are experiencing. By the way, we are not the antiquities in the title.
We follow the usual track up from the parking at Cardwell House, there are stone marker posts, but instead of taking the panoramic path overlooking Chipping Vale I suggest we carry straight on to look for a cairn circle marked on the map and mentioned in online sites.
At the place marked on the map all we found was a modern pile of stones [red dot on map] with no evidence of a circle, which is often the case.
Thornley Hall Fell Cairn.
So on we went and now off track managed to fall foul of some boggy areas just as JD was praising his trainers and saying how waterproof they were or as it turned out weren’t. The trig point on Spire Hill looked as though it had been recently repainted a very bright white, for a short period a few years ago it was a lurid yellow. Views were hazy. We walked on through the trees and onto the familiar forest tracks catching up on each others news whilst we had been in lockdown. A pleasant couple of hours but a failure on the antiquities exploration.*****
Jeffrey Hill Cairn Circle. SD64444045200 yards NE of the car park there is a Bronze Age cairn circle which is not marked on the OS map. It is a circular feature of loose stones, some of which have been placed here in more recent times. Sadly, the site has become overgrown with heather, but in all it measures between 25-30 feet in diameter. Close to the remains of the cairn circle there is a rectangular earthwork. This was perhaps an entrance (portal) to the site. It is very difficult to make out.
Thornley Hall Fell Cairn. SD64524047 A little further away, in the same direction and close to the Roman road to Ribchester, are traces of hut circles together with a tumulus/burial mound, now difficult to see at ground level.
I arrived back at the pile of stones marked on the map and pictured above which I now think corresponds to Thornley Hall Fell Cairn.
I traced my way back through the rough ground until I was at the correct grid reference for Jeffrey Hill Cairn Circle and found the stones depicted on the websites. It was impossible to make out any circle.
Jeffrey Hill Cairn Circle.
Across the fell in a NE direction I could see a metal fenced enclosure which I’d visited before but thought deserves another look. It appeared to be Victorian style fencing with a tumbled gate leading into a 12ft by 10ft empty space. I can find no reference to this structure apart from an oblique mention of locked gate to a beacon. I would have thought that any beacon would have been higher on the fell. I walk back none the wiser.
That was the finish to my short visit to this end of the fell but for the sake of completeness I’ll mention another antiquity at the Eastern end, near Kemple End – the Anglo Saxon cross sometimes known as the Paulinus Cross which I visited recently.
“You deserve a holiday!” said the email from booking.com.
I’m being bombarded with adverts from holiday organisations desperate for me to spend money with them and fly off in the middle of this pandemic. I’m not fooled by Boris’s assurances of “air bridges” to avoid quarantine, where is the medical evidence for that? And what may change whilst you are away? The only good outcome of his policy is that the crowds who inundated our beaches will be jumping on planes to take them to the ‘Costas’. They will find the Spanish police know how to administer crowd control with hefty fines and prison sentences.
Anyhow, would you want to sit on the beach with a mask on and then queue for an hour or so for your Sangria?
Homegrown firms [eg Booking.com Airbnb Tripadvisor] are also trying to tempt me away in Britain. I know hotels and B&B’s are in a desperate state but can you imagine how the experience of an otherwise pleasant country house hotel would be at present.
At least some of these firms are advising booking with a cancellation option but even that might not be straight forward, read the small print. Here is Booking.com’s special notice – For bookings made from 6 April 2020, you should take into account the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated government measures. If you don’t book a flexible rate, you may not be entitled to a refund. We advise you to closely follow any travel advice from your local government and health organisations, and we recommend booking a flexible rate with free cancellation, in case your travel plans need to change.
You’ve guessed it I won’t be going anywhere just yet. Probably not this year if the deadly virus is still about. Let’s wait and see, I’ve successfully shielded for nearly 4 months now so I’m sure I can continue. In answer to booking.com’s suggestion that “I need a holiday” – no I don’t, I’ve had one for the length of lockdown so far.
Maybe though I need a change of scenery. but they sensibly won’t let me into Scotland or Wales just yet. The next best thing this afternoon as the sun comes out is to drive 5 miles to Chipping, olde worlde and mentioned in the Domesday Book. I have a walking route planned around the quiet country lanes. I park near the Church of St. Bartholomew opposite The Sun Inn. This is where my story starts
Lizzie was a maid living in the Sun, in the year 1835. She met up with a local lad who claimed the deepest love for her and proposed to her, she gladly accepted, However, two days before the wedding, James told Lizzie he had fallen in love with her friend Elsie and called off their wedding day. He now planned to marry Elsie in the church opposite.
On the day of the wedding Lizzie went up to the pub attic overlooking the churchyard, she wrote a suicide note, placed a rope around her neck, and died. The note in her fist read “I want to be buried at the entrance to the church so my lover and my best friend will always have to walk past my grave every time they go to church.”
Her grave is situated near the old entrance –
But the story doesn’t end there. For almost 200 years the ghost of Lizzie has haunted the Sun Inn and the churchyard opposite. Just ask anyone in the village. There is an old yew tree near her grave which has one branch supported by an iron tripod.
Sorry, I became rather distracted there.
My walk leaves the village up the lane towards former water mills which helped Chipping thrive in the early industrial years. None is working now, Kirk Mill has been preserved but is looking rather forlorn. Originally a corn mill, then a cotton mill it ended its life as part of the Berry Chair Works. Its large crane was used to unload timber from the lorries. The cottages surrounding it were still used by workers when I moved into the area in the ’70s. It eventually closed its doors in 2010. Above the main building is the large mill lodge famous nowadays for its ducks.
The narrow lane continues steeply up the hillside passing the site of Tweedy’s Mill, a former foundry and previously a cotton mill. Now there is housing and Proctor’s Cheeses. At one time there were half a dozen water mills on this section of Chipping Brook.
Brief glimpses of the fells appear through the trees. Above Wolfen Mill, an old bobbin mill, I take the lane into the fells. I chase butterflies up the hill and buy some free-range eggs at the stall on Saddle Side farm track.
Today I’m not going further into the fells so I turn down a newly tarmacked route to Windy Hills Farm where there is a recent barn conversion, presumably they have paid for the road improvement. At the moment it looks out of place up here but it provides a warm bed for the lambs.Onwards on the familiar track to the extensive sheep rearing Laund Farm with views opening up to Waddington Fell, Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell. Laund was the ancient word for an open space for deer and I now walk down through it, admiring the mature trees and lush greenery, part of the Leagram Estate. A perfect evening.
Back in Chipping, I walk up to the Sun Inn where the story started.