Category Archives: Family

BACK TO BASICS.

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This started out as a short post about bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge, which would have been of little interest to many of you. The autumn sunshine made for a lovely afternoon with several climbers up from Manchester to try the outdoors. Many ‘youngsters’ spend most of their time on indoor climbing walls moving from one blue or red hold to the next. Excellent exercise but not at all like the real thing where you learn to position your body to make maximum efficient use of the available holds, feet and hands. They were enjoying themselves but using up an awful lot of unnecessary energy and skin with their climbing gym moves. You have seen them perform in the Olympics. My son sent me a video the other day of my youngest grandchild climbing at The Depot in Manchester. All very impressive on a ‘route’ I wouldn’t get off the ground on. All heel hooks and dynamic jumps to rounded blobs. I congratulated him on his skill, he is my grandson after all, but also mentioned I had never had to resort to jumping in 50 years of traditional crag climbing.

I go along to the mere vertical part of the crag where I have a trio of traverses. At one time I could link them all together, but now I struggle to climb each one. I don’t mind I’m just happy to be moving on the rock. Back to basics.P1000283 (2)

On the way home I call into my local supermarket and manage to pick up reduced bags of vegetables. Winter greens, mixed vegetables and stir-fry selections. All for a fraction of their original price, the use by dates approaching fast. Back home with the addition of an onion or two and some potatoes I soon have a heart-warming soup mixture. In fact eight generous portions of soup for less than £2 go into the freezer. Back to basics, that’s how to deal with the cost of living crisis. 20221002_14415420221002_15445720221003_114254

Our new government is struggling to come to terms with that cost of living crisis. In fact, they have made it worse by the tax cutting measures that have sent a shock wave through the financial markets. Let’s not hurt the rich and make the poor pay for it in the years to come. Oh! But is that a U turn I see? Disarray within weeks of their new premier. Having Rees-Mogg involved in climate change measures is obviously a joke. Fracking in our back gardens is looming its head here in Lancashire. Time to get back to basics., but I for one have no confidence in the unelectable Tories.

Capture Rees Mogg

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg,

NICKY NOOK ONE MORE TIME.

20220826_154441I arranged a walk with my son today whist he is off work and I took him on a repeat of one of his early childhood walks of which he had no recollection – the classic Nicky Nook circuit from Scorton.

This involves parking near the local parish church, St. Peter’s, famous for its steeple, a landmark visible from the M6 going north. The time was 3.00.

We didn’t mess about on field paths low down, just walked up the quiet lanes until there was access into GrIze Dale. I always enjoy the stroll up this deep wooded valley, today there was only a trickle of water in the beck. The Grizedale Reservoir was the lowest I have ever seen it.20220826_155601

Walking up the gentle side of the hill we started to meet more people, but generally the place was deserted.

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That’s not the top.

We stopped at the freshly painted trig point to take in the views over the Bowland hills, the motorway snaking north, Morecambe Bay and the Fylde. That is why most people come up here.

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This is.

Down the steep side and into Scorton where we take the lane to the church whose clock now says 5.30.20220826_165109

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An innovative sign.

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Time for a beer and a Chinese meal back in Garstang. He still didn’t remember the childhood walk but enjoyed the excursion, it’s good to share.

CaptureNicky Nook.

BLEASDALE CIRCLE REVISITED.

P1090212 (2)My son had never been to see the Bleasdale Circle despite having walked around the Bleasdale estate since he was a young child. In fact when I think about it, we pushed him round in a ‘buggy’ when he was barely one. I had to remind him that was 50 years ago!

I must have a dozen or more posts regarding Bleasdale and have mentioned the Bleasdale Circle several times. Things didn’t look right today as we took the concessionary path towards the circle – the trees which enclosed it have virtually gone, I had to take a second look. As we came closer it was obvious that there had been severe storm damage since I was last here and the remaining trees harvested. To be honest the whole site looked a mess, all very disappointing, it’s going to need some loving care to make it presentable once more. The concrete inner ‘posts’ were still in place, but the interpretation board was undecipherable. The views from up high on the fells will no longer show the prominent circle of trees marking the site. See my previous photos here.

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I quote from previous posts –

The circles are Bronze Age and were originally oak posts, an outer and inner ring. Discovered in 1898 and subsequently excavated they yielded a central burial chamber with cremation urns and ashes. These are now on display in the Harris Museum in Preston. The inner ring of wooden posts have been replaced with concrete posts. The orientation of the posts within the circle of the Bleasdale Hills may suggest some deep reason for their siting here.  

Here is the official listing for it.

We walked on around the estate at a slow pace as the temperature soared. Our plan was to finish the walk just before six when the Cross Keys Inn at nearby Whitechapel would be opening. The plan worked, and we enjoyed a beer and a good meal.

Capturecross keys.

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe bay and beyond, continued.

Crawling out from under my rock I wonder where a week has gone. It went in a haze of Covid fever, headache, cough and abdominal pains which laid me lower than expected. I could hardly read others posts never mind complete my own. I’m not at my best.

***

June 14th. 2022.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Parking up at Halton Station in preparation for a cycle ride around Morecambe Bay. Post coffee I’m off, so good to be out again feeling free as a bird. Into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and out to Morecambe. I take a bit of detour past the football ground to arrive at the coast in the West End near the site of a former pier. The view out over the bay is clear, but everything seems at a great distance. I soon pass the Midland Hotel, one day I will call in for tea, and continue up the promenade without stopping at the various attractions.

West End Sculpture.

I’ve been this way so many times before, I even know the way from the end of the prom to reach the Lancaster Canal. Normally I turn south here but today to vary my route I head north alongside the canal. This is a delightful stretch with the canal elevated above the surrounding countryside. Below are Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, and father out are the treacherous sands of the 2004 cockling disaster when 21 illegal Chinese immigrants lost their lives. We still don’t know how to manage the flow of immigrants into our country.

I have to be careful to leave the towpath at the correct spot, not signed, to pick up the 700 cycle route which could eventually take me, if I wished, all the way around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston and Walney Island, Barrow. Today I only went as far as the River Keer and its eponymous bridge. Whenever I’m here I can’t help thinking of The Bridge on the River Kwai and start whistling Colonel Bogey. Obviously the name of the bridge and its wooden structure set my mind into action. So much so that I paused my writing here a couple of hours ago to watch the 1957 film starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins on Vimeo. I had forgotten how good it was, building up the tension and reflecting on the British character and psychology in times of war. Directed by David Lean, arguably his best film was a few years later – Lawrence of Arabia. We will shortly come across his name once more. It is worth your time to watch again and revaluate    https://ok.ru/video/2090020047523

The Bridge on the River Keer.

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Where was I?

Ah, yes. Coming alongside the diminutive River Keer into the railway town of Carnforth. The railway station is on the main west coast line with branches to the Cumbrian Coast and inland to Skipton, a busy junction. Most of the main line expresses cruise through at speeds unimaginable at the time of the fictional ‘Milford Junction’ just pre-WWII. It was here that David Lean directed much of the romance of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Carnforth has capitalised on the ongoing success of the film and a Heritage Centre has been created on the platform – all things railway and cinema. Here I go again – diverted to watching a tormented Celia Johnson and a rather wooden Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter on the computer. I’m now an emotional mess, must have been  the Rachmaninoff. I’ll never finish this post.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Enjoying a cup of tea at the famous waiting room. I had time to drift back in time as the pot of tea took an age to arrive. On my way again I now followed the 90 (Lancashire Cycleway) up to sleepy Nether Kellet now high in this range of unnamed low hills.  Views back to the Bay with the Lakeland Hills behind and ahead over Lancaster and the Bowland Hills. Whizzing down I missed my turn and ended up alongside a military training centre above the Lune. All barbed wire, locked gates and grey paint. Halton village had some old properties previously related to a now demolished Halton Hall, worth a more detailed visit. Back over the Lune I was the last car in the car park and drove home tired but contented not knowing what was ahead.

More variations and suggestions on cycling Morecambe Bay, very satisfying.

***

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Further to some comments below on this post, here are a couple of phone photos taken by my son on the canal in Stretford. Bee Orchids.

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EASTER PARADE.

To mark the Easter visit of my family from Manchester a Chinese noodle lunch was enjoyed; and then whilst the physiotherapist was diagnosing my knee problem, resulting from that cycling incident last month, they exercised the dogs up on Longridge Fell. Back at home after coffee my three grandchildren were keen to do a little outside bouldering at the local unique Craig y Longridge. Where they live in Stretford is a bouldering gym, The Depot, which they regularly visit so a chance to get outside was eagerly anticipated. Despite the recent damp weather I was able to find dry rock to climb on and in my senior and injured role was happy to point them at the problems. Great to see them enjoying themselves.

By the time we got back the washing up had all been done. Perfect.

HAPPY EASTER.

A PLEASANT INTERLUDE.

My hatches are well and truly battened.  Storm Dudley has come and gone, and Storm Eunice is all around me. I won’t be venturing far – I have seen at close hand what a falling tree can do to a car. On the subject of trees falling, sadly I had one in my back garden yesterday, so I have been busy with the chain saw.

On a lighter note I had my family come visit me this week, a rarity in the last two years. There must have been an alignment of the planets so that both sons could join forces. We are still doing lateral flow tests before meeting – are we paranoid?  I appreciate their concern for their possibly vulnerable dad.

Along came my son from Preston and the partnership from Stretford with their two robust dogs. Seth, my cat, sensibly retreated upstairs for the rest of the day. After a healthy lunch I needed to get them out of the house and up the fell – referring to the dogs if not the adults.

I’ve mentioned before the plantation at Cowley Brook on Longridge Fell. This is where we headed for some exercise. The dogs made the most of it, charging through the undergrowth and jumping into any patch of water.

Phoebe watches on as Gizmo is all a blur.

Is nobody joining me?

Back home we relaxed whilst the dogs slept. To put it all into context I’ve watched the men’s and women’s teams make it through to the finals of the Olympic curling. Brilliant, as they say – ‘chess on ice’. And can anyone explain to me why Europe is on the verge of another world war?

SONG FOR MY FATHER.

October 9th.  I can’t believe it is 16 years since the death of my father, aged 91. What would he have made of the world today?

Let’s remember him in music and in the genre he enjoyed. The original Horace Silver release on Blue Note was in 1965. An opportunity to experience the Latin piano beat  with Joe Henderson on tenor sax. These may be new to some of you, but I can highly recommend a listen…

….and if you appreciate live  jazz listen to this version, Copenhagen April 1968. 

 

…or this much later 1996 performance. I’m spoiling you now.

 

…and to conclude, a tight modern version from Foo Jazz, not a piano in sight.

For my father. Eternal music.

BEST OF A BAD JOB – MOOR PARK.

Saturday 5th December.  1.5 miles.  Preston.

How can I put this, am I anxious or annoyed?

To start with I was anxious, Chris my son had arranged [24hours previously] to come up to Longridge at 12noon for a socially distanced walk up on the Fell. He never arrived. Phoning his house brought no reply, I know when he is on ‘nights’  he switches the phone to silent in the day. More phoning was to no avail and his mobile was switched off. At one o’clock I felt I had to investigate and drove down to Preston. His car was in the street and all his curtains drawn. No answer to my knocking on his door.

How quickly can someone die from Covid-19?  Images of police breaking down that door. I already had experienced a similar traumatic episode involving the emergency services at a friend’s house in Liverpool last year. Passers-by start looking at me suspiciously especially when I start throwing objects at his bedroom window. It took several objects clattering against the glass before a weary face appeared.

Anxiety over, I suppressed annoyance; he had slept in and was very apologetic. I thought of mentioning alarm clocks but didn’t. I marched off round the corner to get some spare keys cut whilst he surfaced and drank tea.

Sorry we are not cutting keys due to the pandemic

On my return to save the day, or was it just his face, he helpfully suggested a walk around the local park – ‘whilst I was here‘  So that is how I came to walk around Moor Park and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last time I walked through Moor Park was when I connected most of the open spaces In Preston into one continuous trail – A Preston Ten Parks Walk  [At the time I was hoping to spark the curiosity of local walkers to follow in my footsteps, although lots have viewed the post no one has admitted to completing what I thought was an excellent outing.]

Back to this afternoon we arrived into the park at its Southern gate and walked clockwise, along with many of Preston’s residents enjoying the open space and welcome sunshine. Moor Park is Preston’s largest and oldest park, originally common land it became, in 1833, the first municipal park in the emerging Northern Industrial towns. In the mid-1860s the park enclosed some 100 acres of the moorland, landscaped by Edward Milner.  It was part of a scheme to provide work for those unemployed because of the Lancashire cotton famine. A series of walks and ‘drives’ for horses and carriages were created, including an avenue of lime trees which was known for many years as ‘the Ladies Walk’. This formed the southern boundary of the park where we came in.

On the south road are large houses now used for rooms for solicitors and doctors. Also, here is the old Park School, Preston’s grammar school for girls, opened in 1906 closed in 1969. I think it is part of the campus for Preston College now.

Passing the children’s playground there was a little café open and doing a good trade in takeaway coffees.

At the edge of the park was a granite stone [?erratic] commemorating Tom Benson’s world record In 1997  of walking the perimeter of the park, covering a total of 314 miles!

The path we took ran through sunken gardens with an ornamental grotto and rocky tunnel.

The Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory was built in time for the 1927 total eclipse of the sun. [Horrocks was a 17th century astronomer from Hoole]. The university now own it but light pollution and vibration from the busy Blackpool Road prevent it being used for serious scientific research.

In the C18/19th the park was host to horse races  and there is a starting stone still present recalling those days.

The Serpentine lake is now looking rather unloved,  The supports and gates of a demolished  bridge were constructed from Longridge stone.

On this far side there used to be open air baths, they were filled in during the early seventies. There is no sign of them now.

During WW1 a hospital for the wounded was built.  After the hospital was closed in 1919 the buildings were used as an open-air school and then a prisoner of war camp in the second world war. When it closed some of the wooden buildings were moved to the docks for the Sea Cadets Headquarters. Only the interpretation board gives a clue to its position.

On the East side of the park  is the Preston North End football ground; they were a founder member of the English Football League in 1888. Today there was a league game being played, but due to Covid-19 rules no supporters are allowed so you wouldn’t know it.

That was an hour well spent with my lovely son.

*****

 Preston Council’s amateur map is reproduced below, by all means click on it to enlarge

 

FAMILY DURING LOCKDOWN.

Friday.  November 13th.  5.5 miles.  Bleasdale.

Just spotted it, this is Friday the 13th, survived again.

As you may know I’m trying to get something new from each of my lockdown walks. When I say ‘new’ I’m encompassing new perspectives, new experiences and hopefully new encounters with nature or whatever.

I haven’t seen Chris, one of my sons, for about three months so that is something new for today. He is a baker and social distancing is not the best but his firm have had no cases, yet. There is talk amongst some of his workmates with friends who have tested positive but nobody has volunteered to self Isolate. I imagine that is quite a problem generally with people not wanting to lose their wages.  As he works night shifts there are not many afternoons when he is up, but today we arrange to meet in Bleasdale, a short distance drive for us both, well within the ‘rules’.

Social distancing is the order of the day. Since the last time I saw him he has grown a beard, fortunately I knew of that from telephone conversations otherwise it would have been a shock. Strangely half the hair growth is white, so he has gone grey without knowing it. We do the usual walk except the muddy bits. He thinks it is 20 years since he was last up here.

Here are a few photos from our walk.

The postman cometh.

The school master’s house now a desirable country residence.

One of those abhorrent vermin traps but open to any creature. Should be made illegal.

Is this Rhododendron flowering late or early?

Ever the gentleman.

 

Beacon Fell and a hazy Preston.

Pointing to Parlick

That wonderful beech hedge.

The River Brock on its way.

 

The afternoon is pleasantly sunny, and we enjoy the catch up. Not sure when we will do it again.

My other son and family are in Manchester and have decided they will keep well clear of me for the time being which I appreciate.

*****

NOGGARTH 35 YEARS LATER.

While I’ve been isolated one of the tasks I started on was to go through some boxes of old photographs. I didn’t get far as I’m reluctant to throw things away, I’ll leave that to the next generation. One set of prints took my notice. Some large rock slabs with myself and one of my sons and friend clambering about.  Memories came back of somewhere at the back of Pendle Hill, sunny days, parking by a little cafe [ice creams] and walking down to some slabs on a hillside. I always meant to go back and explore as I felt there must have been scope for development but I never did.

1985

Good parenting!

I had heard that some friends had been doing exactly that, cleaning lines on the slabs, placing belays and writing up a mini-guide.

Thus I find myself back again after 35 years. Dave and Rod phoned to say they were meeting up, separate cars and all that, this afternoon. I felt a little apprehensive driving over on quite busy roads. Reports say that the standard of driving during lockdown has been poor with lots of speeding, I drive even more cautiously than normal. After nearly three months of virtual isolation with only a few recent short drives up Longridge Fell, I have visions of ending up in casualty and catching the Covid virus after all my efforts to avoid it. Parking by the cemetery is not a good omen. Bloody hell I’m almost in Yorkshire.

A few climbers are already on the slabs and we exchange greetings. Everybody seems to know everybody in this small world.

Compare with 1985.

Today top-roping for us is the safest option. Even so, I am not convinced that we were able to socially isolate the specified 2m and we were handling the same ends of rope when swapping over. My clinical standards are not the same as others.

Anyhow a half dozen climbs were completed on the “girls slab”. The nature of the rock means there are few positive holds but faith in friction as you place your feet on rugosities brings success. The angle of the rock is favourable. I suspect that this quarry supplied flagstones rather than building blocks. I also suspect my calves will be stiff tomorrow from all that padding up the slabs.

It was good to meet up with friends and exchange news. I still have nagging doubts about this activity during a pandemic. We will all have a lot of adjustments to deal with whilst hopefully coming out of lockdown smoothly. On the positive side, I don’t have to think about using public transport, going back to work, sending children back to school or getting my business going again. But It’s not over yet.

THE LOT. A HOLIDAY DIARY.

Puy L’Eveque on the Lot River.

I’ve just returned from three weeks staying in my friend’s house in the Lot Valley, France.  The weather as you can imagine, in August, was hot and sunny.

The first week was shared with the owners and their family, the second two weeks one of my sons came out with his family.

Here is a snapshot of daily life.

Day 1.  Hot air balloon. Awoke this morning to see across the vineyards a hot air balloon landing through the mist over towards Vire. They must have had a fantastic flight in the clear morning air. I don’t know where they launch from, an unusual start to the holiday.

Day 2. Men in orange. It turns out that this Thursday is a French Bank Holiday, we get caught out with the shops being closed.  This explains why the hunters are out in the combe, dogs try to flush out deer or wild boar into the open. Not a good time to go walking. Thankfully there were no shots heard this morning.

Day 3. Full moon. I seem to often visit whilst there is a full moon which shines brightly over the back of the house and garden whilst we are finishing supper.

Day 4. In the pool. The two young children make the most of the pool as the temperature sores into the 30s.

Children, father and grandma.

Day 5. BMF training. Saturday back home in Leeds is BMF training session in Roundhay Park so the exercises were recreated on the lawn. It all looked very energetic and powerful from my viewpoint on a lounger.

Day 6. French walkers. Each day I get out for a short walk, often before breakfast. My favourite is up the garden into the woods and then back down The Combe de Filhol. Today I extend my walk around the Orienteering Course in the woods across the way. I come across a group of French walkers, holidaying in the area, marching along with a map. Normally I see no one but today as I zigzag about I bump into the same group several times, they look a little uneasy as I keep appearing from the undergrowth.

Day 7. Hints of autumn.  On my walks I started noticing fungi pushing through the undergrowth. Unfortunately they looked poisonous, On the other hand, the mirabelles, small plums, were prolific and once stewed provided many delicious desserts with yoghurt or ice cream.

Day 8. All change. I take mine hosts back to the airport and await the arrival of my family group. They are quickly through passport control, how will this be next year after Brexit?   I drive them back with a short coffee break in Isseagac, a charming Bastide town.

Day 9. Garden games. A lot of time was taken up with games in the garden. Boules, table tennis, french cricket, croquet etc. The competitive spirit was well demonstrated in croquet where some most unfriendly manoeuvers were taken.

Day 10. On the bike. For some of my longer excursions, I took one of the bikes with me but ended up walking as much as riding due to the terrain and the bike’s gears’ obstinacy. One of my favourite trips which I hadn’t made for some time was over the hills to St. Martin le Redon in the Theze valley. Firstly over to Touzac then over the river Lot on a splendid metal bridge. Near here is a good swimming spot in the slow running river, popular in the heatwave, One of the GR routes is joined to go over another group of hills down into the Theze valley. St. Martin is a sleepy village but has gained a little cafe since I was last here; a welcome addition. In the valley is a string of limestone cliffs which I often climbed on in happier times. Hilly tracks take me over to Duravel and slowly back to the house.

Day 11. More exercise. As if last weeks exercises hadn’t been enough my own family started on more each day. Matthew and Lou’s seemed fairly casual but Sam was into serious workouts in between fast runs.

Day 12. Shush! there’s a deer in the garden. The orchard higher up the garden has numerous apple trees which drop their fruit at this time of year. It is a regular event for deer to visit the garden for this fruit and Alex spotted one tonight, well done; they don’t hang around long.

Day 13. Off to market. Sunday is market day at the nearby town of Montcuq.  There is a market somewhere every day but this one is very popular with locals and tourists. Every sort of stall [produce, clothing, antiques etc.] street entertainment and an interesting village to explore.

Day 14. The Poolman cometh. An ageing hippy drives up in his Morris Minor van, he has a collection of them, and cleans the pool.

Day 15. Snakes and glow worms.

Day16. More pool activities.  The weather was perfect for relaxing in the pool. One of the challenges was to do a length on the banana,

Day 17. Orienteering. In the woods I’ve set up a simple orienteering course. The family were keen to try it and being competitive split into two groups, I’ll call them the tortoises and the hares. They disappeared for an hour or so and needless to say the more careful tortoises came in first. This proved the hardest to find in a pile of stones in the middle of the trees…

Day 18. Eating in and out. We have mainly eaten at the house, two vegans to feed plus two picky ‘enfants’. Despite that, the family have eaten out at several local restaurants. Chips and salad is the best option for vegans in France. For a special occasion, I specifically booked the nearest place we could walk to. Le Caillau is a lovely courtyard restaurant with a reputation for good food. They told me they could cater for Vegans. My family appreciated the atmosphere and the food but I thought they could have been a little more creative with the seasonable vegetables, What have I missed out – wine tasting, Martignac with its Medieval church, lavoir and cazelle, Buzzards, Bastide towns, castles, mosquitos, kayaking and LOTS  more.

Day 19. Chez mois.  Je suis de retour a la maison maintenant, c’est l’Automne.   Que fait Boris?

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Beacon Fell.

Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms and Kemple End.

It’s the summer holidays and I’m entertaining my youngest grandson for a couple of days, that’s all he has in his busy diary. I think of some local walks that will keep him interested and not be overdemanding. When I was his age, 11years, I could cover 20 miles no problem across rough moorland, alone and while smoking a few Woodbines.  Maybe not, but I think the generations have softened the Human Spirit. While he stays with me there is an unplugged mentality regarding mobile devices, I try to explain that nothing will happen whilst he is off line. He is not convinced.

He arrives with his stepmother, both keen to explore the local countryside. I’ve devised a route up onto Beacon Fell that is interesting, short and easy. They seem happy with it as we arrive at the cafe in time for lunch. On the way we passed Barnsfold Reservoir where his great grandad used to fish and paint piscatorial images for the fellow fishermen. I’ve often wondered what happened to those skilled canvases.  We marvelled at the size of two Buzzards wheeling overhead and we wondered about unusual tree fungi, a white bracket on a beech tree which I’ve been unable to identify.

We walked past a farm where the family have diversified into a hair salon what was previously a cowshed, good on them.

We passed more fishing lakes this time part of a recreational complex with holiday chalets. The original farm, Wood Fold, is grade II listed but has been submerged by ancillary housing.  I never realised how much-hidden developments there were in the area.  There was only a minor footpath diversion through this development.

Onwards, with grandson navigating, we followed my route of the other day through Crombleholme Fold and up the fields and into the woods to the honey spot of Beacon Fell.

All smiles.

We were probably the only people that had walked here, all be it only a  couple of miles. A trio of elderly cyclists arrived and clattered into the cafe, they had come through the hills from Lancaster. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches. On our way back we had time for an attempt at climbing the new snake from tail to head and then we were out of the woods and back at the car. There were some new wood carvings of leafy Green men, a pre-Christian symbol. Incidentally, there is a Green Man Pub in nearby Inglewwhite.

I hope that a few navigational skills have been absorbed.

The afternoon was spent pruning bushes in my garden and the more exciting shredding of those branches which provided lots of laughs. A competitive game of boules anticipated our imminent family trip to France.

Refreshed by Thursday morning our next jaunt was to Brock Bottoms just below Beacon Fell. We were one of the first cars parked up in the popular picnic spot.  It is years since I’ve been along this stretch of the River Brock. Memories of early forages with my own young children keep coming back. The river is low, we see no kingfishers or dippers which I was hoping for.

The highlight of this walk was going to be Brock Mill but alas time has taken its toll on the ruins of the mill. Where there had been substantial buildings there were only stones with little evidence of the mill race, waterwheel or the mill itself.

Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers.  The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!

It took some imagination to see the ruins of the cottages.

Slightly disappointed we retraced our steps. Having given my grandson a lecture on watermills I drove back via Chipping where there is a water wheel attached to a house, a former corn mill and then converted to a restaurant with the wheel turning.

I cut the lawn whilst he caught up on ‘social media’, he hates it when I call it ‘antisocial media’

The weather remained sunny and dry and the plan for the afternoon was some bouldering up on Longridge Fell. Again keeping it low key I bypassed the tough Craig Y Longridge and settled for Kemple End. We dropped into the secluded heather bowl that is the old quarry. We were out of the sun and spent a couple of hours trying some of the easier problems. He realised that outdoor climbing is so different to the climbing walls he has been visiting. At the end of the session, I’m not convinced I’ve converted him into a proper climber. I was so busy spotting him that I didn’t take any photos – next time.

I don’t know who was most tired by the time his father came to take him home. See you in France.

EVEN MORE OF DINKLEY ON A GOOD FRIDAY FAMILY WALK.

The successful walk last week along the Ribble must have been at the back of my mind when some of the family pitched up on Good Friday. So after a quick lunch of soup I suggested something similar as the weather was perfect. Parking at the Marles Wood site was tricky but we luckily managed a space as someone drove away. Since last week the bluebells have moved on a touch and the ‘blue carpet’ was making an appearance in the woods.

Sales Wheel.

A steady stream of walkers made their way through the woods to and from the river at Sales Wheel, early picnickers on the banks had been testing the cold water and were now relaxing with beers – typical Brits on holiday, some will have red skin tonight.

We pressed on to the open area along the river and descended to the shingle beach for a prolonged session of enthusiastic stone skimming. Despite the abundance of perfect flat stones none made it to the opposite bank.

After some time simple stone chucking became the order of the day before a drinks stop.

We admired the new bridge and noticed the plaque from the 1951 opening of the original suspension bridge, which I’d missed last time.

Rather than walk the long way back along the opposite bank, protestations from the grandchild, we decided to head uphill to the road on this side. Looking at the 1:25,000 I spotted a track going virtually all the way without too much road walking. Of course this was not a right of way but looked inviting so we went for it. This worked well and we followed tracks of sorts all the way without obstruction except at the end emerging onto the road where the gate was locked with dire warnings to trespassers. I was particularly pleased with the route which gave magnificent views back down to the river and the bridge as well as more distant views of Hurst Green, Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill, and brought us back to the car without too much family stress – we had only covered two miles in two hours.

‘forgive us our trespasses’

 

Back to my place for beers, bagatelle and Ratatouille.

*****

BEWARE OF THE GRUFFALO.

If you go down to the woods today you may be in for a big surprise.

Today was another short walk taking advantage of a sunny afternoon and celebrating the plastic bag man‘s birthday. The real reason was a birthday curry buffet at a favourite restaurant, Bangla Spice in Leyland. One of my sons joined us for the laugh, the day before I’d been on the streets of Stretford following a jumble sale trail with my other son and family.

Cuerden Valley was our venue having never really explored here before. The area was popular with dog walkers and families all enjoying the space and sunshine. We had a rough map of the park and set off along a path that soon had us crossing the busy M6 motorway, not a peaceful start.

But before long we were walking in a strange walled path towards the hall, we imagined the masses walking to work in the past.

The hall itself, not an edifying building, was approached. This is the centre for the Sue Ryder Charity. We found in the stables area of the hall several good charity shops – books, brickabat and clothes – all for a good cause, neurological care and support to local people and their loved ones.

Onwards past hidden housing estates, the offices for Lancashire Wildlife Trust and a walled garden to the woods where a Gruffalo hunt had been underway. Thankfully this was over and the big G had gone home. Plastic bag man still felt a little uneasy, mouse-like, as we entered the mature woodland. There was a wide range of trees planted by the estate a century ago.

Going into an interesting looking nature reserve we were accosted by a volunteer suggesting there was no entry, we didn’t argue [there is always another time to explore unnoticed.] We meekly walked down to the bridge over the River and followed the masses and their dogs.  Another carpark was reached and we crossed the road to continue down valley, it was here we got bored and hungry and decided to retrace our steps. What lies down the valley will have to remain for another visit. The whole area is worthy of further exploration.

Above us on the return was the new visitors’ centre, an impressive Eco-designed building, which will be worth a visit soon. Further on was the fishing lake, an old lodge.

Paths took us back to our carpark and that tasty curry.                                                                                ***

 

 

A LOT OF WORK.

Back in the Lot valley for a couple of weeks to ease me into Autumn. When we arrived the air temperature was up in the high 20s and more importantly was the pool temperature. As the days slowly passed the temperatures dropped but I was still swimming on the last day. This was the usual combination holiday of work and pleasure, heavily biased to the latter. My oldest grandson joined us for a week and it was great to reacquaint him with the pleasures of rural France, think food and wine. It was a bus-man’s holiday for him being on lifeguard duty by the pool!  Despite the usual post flight colds we managed a few local walks and cycles incorporating fruit picking, he was on guard as I picked. Bad example to the innocent younger generation. Light relief came from boules, table tennis, crosswords and whist – boring old farts.

Anyhow to get back to the subject of this post there was a lot of work going on at nearby Hauterive Chateau with the plums they grow alongside the vines A machine washed and cleaned the ripe plums, trays of plums are then loaded into ovens to dehydrate them into our breakfast prunes. As well as our boxes of wine we came away with handfuls of plums which provided desserts for many nights. Grape picking occurs later at the end of September.

The fields in the vicinity of the house had been harvested earlier and now they were being ploughed and harrowed. The size of modern machinery is staggering, the tractor turns up with a trailer which then proceeds to unfurl its long wings making quick work of the large fields. The last run must have been seeding as within a few days green shoots of Barley appeared.

One morning I woke to find a man on the roof cleaning the chimney in the traditional way. Apparently one needs an annual certificate of this work being carried out for insurance purposes.

We had our own work repairing the sit on mower but thankfully the helper is an experienced engineer. It did work later.On my daily circuit of the wooded hill and combe I spotted some trees that had their bases tarred and sticks placed against them, not as traps but possibly as markers for any boar or deer movements. The woods are hunted regularly. No one was able to give a satisfactory explanation.

Every night a deer came down the garden to feed on fallen apples so in an attempt to get a closer view I rigged up my hammock and laid in wait but of course I drifted off to sleep, too much wine, so probably missed all the action. There was a full moon which lit up the garden in the early hours.

A pleasant couple of weeks.

EASTER DISTRACTIONS ON THE GUILD WHEEL.

The garage where I bought my car from last year lies on The Guild Wheel circuit. When I phoned to arrange the yearly service I was surprised the appointment, they have become very clinical in garages, was on Easter Monday, so rather than waste the day in went the bike. The receptionist, very clinical, was taken aback by my Lycra and helmet and doubted I would be back within the 2 hours the service would take. I set off on the Wheel in an anticlockwise direction and after a couple of miles I was investigating the lock gates from the Ribble into Preston docks when a familiar voice caught my ear and there was one of my sons and his partner cycling the opposite way. They were visiting from Manchester and doing a quick circuit before dining with family. I was invited to join them and soon was retracing my ride past the garage I had left a short while ago. I meant to mention that this garage is part of a multi motor showroom complex – there are cars and salesmen everywhere.

The day was cool and dry, we made good progress around the northern half of the Wheel. I managed to keep up with their youthful pace but was glad of a coffee stop in, say it quietly, Starbucks.That reminded me of a picture I took in Bethlehem a couple of years ago.

Onwards and down through the woods at Redscar where the bluebells were just colouring up. Now the fact it was Easter Monday hit home as all the way through Brockholes the path was thronged with families enjoying the sunshine. Slow progress. The pace quickened on the stretch by the river and after that my companions took a different route up into Preston. From here the crowds thickened again and I realised it was the famousegg rolling day in Avenham Park so it was simpler and safer to dismount and walk with the crowds. There was a great party atmosphere – egg-rollers, fair goers, music and dance entertainment and general family happiness. I tarried to absorb it all.

Even after leaving the park the route through the docks was thronged with people, the steam train was running. I arrived back at the garage after three hours to collect my car, complete with its clinical diagnostic sheet. I complemented the receptionist on their efficiency and enthused how easily I fitted the cycle into the boot.

Everyone seemed happy on this sunny Easter Monday.

Longridge Fell – then and now.

There is a stream coming off Longridge Fell crossed by a small bridge.  I often walk this way. When my two oldest grand children were young this was an ideal spot for a bit of ‘damn building’ and became a favourite of theirs.

This weekend I had staying my youngest grandchild and he was keen to follow suit.  His father took a picture of us, then remembered back to previous times and low and behold there on his phone was April 2002.

Uncanny coincidence. Wish I had evidence of visits with my boys when they were that young in the 70s.

2002.

2002.

2016.

2016.

A QUICK LAKES VISIT – Gummers How.

My son and grandson are camping in the Lakes this week. It has not been the best of summer weather but they have made the most of it. I arranged to join them this afternoon and drove up the motorway in the low damp cloud, not exactly encouraging. However, when we met up at Newby Bridge there was a hint of brightness in the sky so I suggested a quick ascent of Gummers How nearby. This is a relatively low hill, 321m, and is made even easier by starting from  Astley’s Plantation car park, itself at over 200 m. A Lakeland Fell in miniature.

Wainwright included this summit in his Outlying Fells book –  “it is an old man’s mountain, and  when ancient legs can no longer climb it know ye that the sad day has come to hang up the boots forever and take to slippers”   So it was satisfying for our three generations to make the ascent together.  In the trees low down the path was rather muddy probably due to the Luing cattle, imported to maintain balanced flora. Higher the path has been stepped with Lakeland stone in parts and there are bits of scrambling to keep the youngster [and oldster] interested. Before long we were standing at the trig point in the strong wind. The celebrated views over Windermere were there but with overhead cloud.

Coming down we found a different way through trees which were made for climbing especially if you are 7 years old. Back at the campsite, there was more climbing on some glaciated boulders. The wind didn’t abate and it felt miserable, despite games of Frisbee, so I made my excuses and left them cooking supper. The joys of camping in an English summer. Back home to my slippers.

THREE DAYS IN JUNE.

Yes it’s June but one couldn’t be sure.

1st. The first two days I was entertaining my youngest grandson. It hardly stopped raining and the wind was threatening to blow a six year old off his feet. Despite this we built a dam in a stream coming off Longridge Fell

Dammed good fun.

Dammed good fun.

2nd.  and we sailed pooh-sticks from a bridge on the turbulent Dean Brook at Hurst Green the next day  All great fun and a great commune with nature.

3rd. At last today the wind has dropped and I’ve enjoyed a pleasant day. gardening has taken preference but by tea time I couldn’t resist a quick walk up Longridge Fell. Having parked at Cardwell House I took what I call the ‘balcony’ route onto the fell – it traverses above the Vale of Chipping with views to Fairsnape, round to The Trough of Bowland and the Three Yorkshire Peaks. Tonight was particularly clear.

The path was wetter than I had expected and trainers were not the best footwear option.Leaving the trig point I cut through the trees to the southern side of the fell where the view over comparatively more industrial Lancashire was a contrast. Wind farms seem to be spreading – lets hope the same doesn’t happen on the Bowland Fells seen to the north.

South.

South.

North.

North.

Postscript –

I heard that noted author, naturalist and environmentalist Robert Macfarlane was appearing on BBC’s Spring Watch Unsprung tonight. I was dismayed to find myself watching ‘Top Gear with Animals’ – the three presenters doing a good impersonation on a contrived set surrounded by an apparently amused audience. Not my idea of a nature presentation but maybe I’m out of date. Mr Macfarlane’s contribution was of little importance amongst the general hullabaloo. Shame.

A beautiful moon seen from my room completed the evening and bodes well for an improving start to June.

A HAPPY BOWLAND NEW YEAR.

Since arriving back from La Gomera Christmas has come and gone, I’ve reacclimatised to the weather, caught up with family and friends, been walking and [indoor]climbing and now 2015 is upon us. So Happy New Year and here are a few random photos in the Bowland locality from this last week of mixed weather.

Langden Brook.

Pikefield Plantation, Slaidburn.

Hazelhurst Fell across Bleasdale.

Gliding past Parlick.

My boys under Fairsnape.

Fairsnape and Parlick.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Parapenting out of the mist.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Ascending Saddle Fell.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Light into Chipping Vale.

Not me!

Not me!

Parlick in evening sun.

Parlick in evening sun.

What hope for Longridge in 2015?

What hope for Longridge in 2015?