Category Archives: Chipping Vale

FAIRY HOLES CAVE – WHITEWELL.

My stereotypical image of prehistoric life is of a family sat eating round a fire, animal bones scattered about, in the mouth of a cave. Hence this morning I found myself sat in a cave entrance high above the River Hodder near Whitewell living the dream. Fairy Holes Cave was excavated in 1946 and more recently in 2013 and has revealed cremated human bones, animal bones and pieces of pottery dated to the early Bronze Age. I had not been here for maybe 35 years when I had come to show my children the virtually unknown site. I remember it took some finding and was on private land – it remains so to this day. Once located there are three caves in a limestone outcrop, the middle one being by far the most extensive. A high entrance leads to a 25m long cave which you need to stoop along until at the furthest point a phreatic tube allows you to stand again. My head torch only allowed a poor view of the features but I was hoping some photos would show more. Having satisfied my speleological desires I clambered up the hillside and continued on my walk through this limestone area of Bowland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The early morning start north of Chipping saw me parked up at the end of a bridleway, now a surfaced lane, leading to a prominent Lime-kiln on Knott Hill, this was used to provide lime for the fields and mortar. Throughout this walk little outcrops and quarries of limestone are discovered.

The tracks onwards to Lickhurst Farm were waterlogged reflecting the amount of rain we’ve experienced this summer. Got chatting to the weathered farmer, whom I knew from a previous life, about these isolated Bowland Hill farms. He is due for retirement soon and is one of the last generation born and bread in the area. So many buildings, farms and barns have been upgraded for a new breed of incomers. The property next to him which seemed derelict a couple of years ago when I passed through now offers luxury accommodation. We speculated, with a smile,  on how they will manage cut off in the next harsh winter – no doubt helicopters will be involved and the TV will report on a survival rescue.

Lickhurst Farm.

The next stretch through more  wet fields passed farmsteads, Dinkling Green and Higher Fence Wood, amidst curious Limestone Knolls surrounded by the Bowland Fells:  a juxtaposition  of grit and lime. Hereabouts I had heard of caves but never found them, I wandered about in vain for awhile and was on the verge of giving up when I spotted a fenced enclosure, a give away really. There it was – an obvious cave opening in an outcrop. It turned out to be a few cave entrances to a system which looked as though it extended down into deeper passages – not for me alone today. Has this cave a name I wonder?

Down the lane and across fields towards a small quarried outcrop which I remember bouldering on years ago and which is now in the definitive Lancashire Bouldering Guide named appropriately Reef Knoll Crag. Anyhow passing quickly onwards I arrive in the farm yard of New Laund where workers are busy sorting sheep. Nobody notices my diversion to Fairy Holes…

 

… my continuation over New Laund Hill gives views back to ‘The Jaws of Bowland’ with Mellor Knoll, Burholme Bridge and the Whitendale Fells prominent. Ahead is the deep wooded valley enclosing The Hodder with the slopes of Longridge Fell behind. Some creative navigation through Fair Oak put me on the right track to Greystonely, another farmstead with converted buildings, the one whose residents I knew were out so no cups of tea! The bridleway over a ford quickly took me back to my car and I was home for lunch.

 

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FAIRSNAPE FELL.

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

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

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

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – YET AGAIN.

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

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

Distant Pendle Hill.

Ready made hardcore quarry.

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

A good 5.5 miles. I was home for lunch.

 

BEACON FELL CIRCUIT.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

Longridge Fell – better late than never.

I don’t like to admit to many deadly sins, or virtues for that matter, but SLOTH was on the list today. I hadn’t got round to arranging a walk in the Lakes or in Yorkshire with friends and sloth set in whilst I was having my morning coffee back in bed. One voice said get up and going, the other persuaded me to linger listening to the radio. The morning evaporated whilst the sun shone outside. Something stirred in me and after a quick brunch I was parked up on Longridge Fell. I stopped to take a photo of rubbish dumped in the car park, picked some up later, and noticed the passenger door of the red car next to me was wide open with lots of articles on the front seat. Not daring to touch anything I closed the door and hoped no opportunistic thieves were about.

I have written about Longridge Fell many times, so what was new today?  Some more large chunks of trees have been felled whether because of the Ramorum fungus affecting the Larch or routine forestry work. There are forest roads which give good walking but I can’t come up here without visiting the trig. point, Spire Hill 350m. This diversion involves muddy tracks which today were semi frozen allowing one to break unexpectedly through the crust into the icy depths.  Haziness over the Bowland Fells  and Pendle precluded decent photography. Once I was back on the main forest track I strode out to Kemple End, I don’t normally go this far as it entails road walking back to the car but today I fancied the extra few miles. Sun glasses would have been useful against the low sun in the west. I caught up with a sprightly walker, he had been out all day having caught the bus from Preston and done a circuit of Longridge Fell and the Hodder. At the age of 75 he was out regularly and knew the Bowland area intimately, a true fell wanderer. He obviously declined my offer of a lift into Longridge. Wish I had got his name.DSC00685

At the end of my walk I came through the small bouldering venue of Crowshaw Quarry and I’m itching to get back on some of the problems in Spring. Talking of itching my friend John phoned me last week suggesting a trip back to Gran Canaria where we have unfinished business on the GR13. Needless to say flights are booked.

PS The red car had gone – hope all OK.

Croasdale – but not as we know it.

I think it rained another couple of inches last night, the forecast was average and I was prepared for a lazy day to recover from my duty as a removal man. But no, Mike phoned with an improving forecast and was keen for some exercise. Where to go – all the field paths round here are waterlogged or flooded. It’s times like this when at short notice you fall back on the memory bank, “I’ll take you up Croasdale, it will be dry” . He had not been there.

Getting there via Chipping wasn’t that easy with more flooding of the lanes and then land slips at Whitewell. We made it through but will come back a different way.

The hills were white with snow, the lane into Croasdale more like a river and painful hailstones welcomed us. I have memories of this lane being a sheet of ice on sunny winter days when Alan and I first started exploring Bullstones as a Bouldering venue, we were super keen. But even better recollections of sunny days on the heathery hillsides watching the Hen Harriers, will they return?                                                                                                                                                          The Roman road was dry, despite the full streams, as was most of the fellside so that part of the plan worked. The white bollard with poems we passed  reminded me of The Lancashire Witches Way, a 50 mile walk planned  from Barrowford to Lancaster, maybe spring would be better. There was no bouldering today, the rocks snow covered and a freezing wind keeping us well wrapped up and moving. Following the rim of rocks I found that wonderful stone trough hewn from a boulder, Mike was impressed.                                                                                                           Not lingering we found the tracks down to the ford but were of course confronted by a dangerous raging stream and it took us some time to find a way across to safety. A wild and exhilarating few hours. The only casualty of the day being one of my [cheap] ski sticks which I managed to snap in a slip.

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For normal conditions check out  –

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/bouldering-and-diversions-in-croasdale/

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/heart-of-bowland-croasdale/

https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/bullstones-bouldering-guide/