The way to the zig zags.
From Bleasdale if the light is right one can see a zig zag track going up the southern slopes of Fairsnape. Today, Easter Sunday, the sun was strongly shining onto that slope and the way was not obvious but a look at the satellite map shows the track clearly from Higher Fairsnape Farm..Fairsnape is usually climbed from the outskirts of Chipping following tracks over Parlick but I have not used these zig zags and I thought today would be a good time to avoid the crowds. Sure enough when I reached Fell Foot the were already a dozen cars parked up, this is the spot where the paragliders start their trek up the hill. An insignificant footpath pointer on the corner led me into rough fields where few go, but stiles some more substantial than others link up a pathless route which traverses round below Parlick to above Blindhurst farm.The sound of Lapwings and Curlews was everywhere, a hare popped up directly in front of me before disappearing into the distance. There seem to be an abundance of Orange Tip butterflies this year. There are new-born lambs and in the sky early paragliders. To my right is open access land [rough poor land that the landowners were happy to allow to be designated in the CRoW act] and it struck me that the colour of the land resembled the brown colouring on the 1:25,000 maps.
I dropped into a valley with a tributary of the River Brock and passed a green spot that would be ideal for a wild camp with my youngest grandchild if I could get him off his iPad. There was nobody about at Higher Fairsnape farm except new-born lambs. The buildings look old with mullioned windows and one wonders about the hardships of farming these remote places in the past and even now.
A signpost pointed the way on a concessionary path to reach the start of my zigzags. Once on the open fell I enjoyed a leisurely ascent up the well graded tracks, I always assume these tracks were for bringing peat down from the fells.
At one of the turns was the remains of a building, perhaps a shelter for the workers.
Years ago I can remember a similar structure with a disintegrating roof on the way up nearby Saddle Fell, it has now become a pile of stones but perhaps hides a sombre history.
On 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were faced with severe winter conditions which result in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister Sheila survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. The brothers probably took shelter in the hut. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so it was left to the police and locals to search, British Aircraft Corporation loaned their whirlwind helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy a South Ribble Rescue team was set up, now the local Bowland Pennine team.
Above me were paragliders soaring the thermals and lots of people coming up the route from Parlick, I had seen nobody for two hours. My track came onto the plateau only a few hundred yards from the summit. Up here there is a cairn with Paddy’s Pole, a wind shelter and the trig point, 510m. I had a quick look around for a suitable bivi spot in the near future.
I was able to take a summit photo of a couple on their first ascent of Fairsnape and pointed out that the true summit, 520m, was half a mile away NE and that today conditions were perfect for visiting it as the peat hags that guard it have virtually dried up. I met up with them there later. the views were hazy – no Lakeland Hills or Three Peaks, Pendle and Longridge Fell were a blur.
A romp down the wallside and round Parlick. Looking back across Bleasdale towards Fairsnape showed no evidence of my zig zags. I walked below the popular spots for launching parapentes and many were still in the air. I passed a late starter walking up with his load.
The day was finished before lunch back at the road at Fell Foot.