Category Archives: Lancashire.

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.

AIREY HOUSES – PREFABS IN THE COUNTRY.

When I first moved to Longridge in the early seventies I remember pairs of Airey Houses scattered about on country lanes. I thought nothing about them except they looked very utilitarian, which in fact they were. Over the years most of the ones I knew have been transformed into modern properties by sensitive and hopefully efficient conversions. I passed two of these updated Airey Houses on Ford Lane whilst walking to Beacon Fell the other day…

That set me thinking on the origins of  Airey Houses.                                                                      They were in fact named after Sir Edwin Airey who designed them at the Ministry of Works after the Second World War when affordable housing was urgently needed. Basically, a frame of prefabricated concrete reinforced with steel recycled from military vehicles.  Concrete shiplap panels were then added to the exterior making them instantly recognisable. They were quick to erect on site but difficult to heat because of the poor thermal properties of the concrete. Approximately 26000 prefabricated Airey houses were built in the UK.

The three-bedroom semi-detached properties were built in rural areas, including Grimsargh and Goosnargh in the late 1940s and early 50s. They were council-owned but presumably many were privately acquired through the ‘right to buy ‘ scheme.

Here are some more local ones in various reincarnations…

There are more to discover around the area.

BEACON FELL FOR LUNCH!

I can see the tree-covered summit of Beacon Fell from home [photo above], only just as new houses spring up. Last night I thought it a good idea to walk from home up to Beacon Fell, have lunch in their excellent cafe and walk home again, The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind.

This is a regular walk and I don’t need a map, which is fortuitous as I didn’t take one.  I rely on my phone for local mapping. This route to Beacon Fell is the one I use for the start of my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  I faffed about this morning with various things, one of which was my camera’s lens cover which keeps getting stuck. WD 40 may not have been the best idea but I tried it and realised that it would take some time to clear itself. So I leave the camera at home and use my phone for pictures.  It was 11am when I left my house and bumped into a neighbour. He is used to my eccentricities and enquired where I was going  – “Beacon Fell for lunch”  “Oh!” was all he could say.

The fields were high in summer growth and at every stile I was faced with a barrier of nettles, brambles, Balsam and that sticky plant. I spent a lot of time bashing down the undergrowth. Shorts were not the best idea.  I was getting nowhere and becoming increasingly hot and sweaty.

Worse was to come when I reached what were previously open fields but now were transformed into parcels of equestrian land, paddocks I suppose, by electric fences. Large fields with footpaths and open access were now a no-go zone.  I was fuming at the lack of thought for us humble walkers. This was more like an obstacle course than a rural wander. After limbo dancing under some live electric fences, I started to become rebellious detaching the wire where I could, they were live! Knowing I was on a Right of Way  I ploughed through, Sir Hugh will understand. The last obstacle to a bridge was dealt with and I was on someone else’s land. On a serious note, I will be reporting this blatant obstruction of footpaths to Lancs County Council once the dust has settled using their excellent MARIO web site.

By the time I reached the fishing lakes at Horns Reservoir I was well behind schedule. I thought of curtailing the day, but no my obstinacy carried me forward. Exiting the field by the narrow Right of Way was impossible but I knew a way around. Later exchanging pleasantries with the landowner I couldn’t come to say “why don’t you clear the footpath?”  Writing this now I feel I should ride out there tomorrow and ask him.

Things improved and I made good progress through well-known fields. Lovely green grass hid a hare which set off at speed when I approached.  I was impressed at a stile where not only was the correct signage clear but there was also a small map showing the Rights of Way in the surrounding area. Brilliant. I can never understand why some farmers make it difficult to cross their land – why not sign the way and be done with us.

So much more helpful than ….A barn at Whinneyclough had some unusual, obviously historic, features and I was caught trying to get some close-up photos. Note the finials on the roof, the covered mullioned window and the dated door. The owner seemed insensible to my curiosity. The nearby farmhouse is also of architectural interest but was out of bounds.

On through the golf course where the trees have matured in the years I’ve been coming here. Nobody seemed to be playing at the moment. There were signs indicating ‘footgolf’ –  whatever next.

The diversion around Fir Trees Farm seems less irritating as the years go by. I still have no faith in the Planning  Authorities who allow it. The brick fronted farmhouse is Grade II listed.

Well trodden paths through Higher Barker and the burgeoning complex at the former  Cross Keys Inn.  When I first moved to this area this was a favourite place to drink, pre breathalysers, with the beer being served in the farm parlour. The way onwards is always boggy, you will be cursing me if following this route. But now Beacon Fell is there above. A couple of awkward fields and then a long traverse of green pasture brings me out on the road at Crombleholme where there is an impressive C17th house, today splendid with its colourful garden.

Up to the fields and into the woods and suddenly I’m in the main carpark of Beacon Fell. There are people everywhere enjoying the summer sunshine. I present myself at the cafe counter sweaty and dishevelled, probably the only person to arrive here under his own steam. The tea and sandwiches are perfect as I sit at one of the outside tables and watch humanity. Curiously I didn’t take any photos, battery running low but this what it was like.

Aa I didn’t visit the summit, it was all downhill to home. Away from the crowds the paths are eerily quiet. Concessionary paths have been established down to Carwags where a quiet road takes you onwards. Views open to Parlick behind and to Pendle and Longridge Fell ahead. by now my phone was running out of juice hence few photos and no map to follow. An even more rural lane with grass down the middle comes out at Loud Higher Bridge.

I follow the infant River Loud through fields some of which may be trespassing, no map remember, but I eventually come out at a deserted Loudscales Farm. I  know the way home from here. up the lane to the road and down to a junction of paths. Take the middle one up to Withinreap Farm, pass the ‘figure of eight’ ponds and arrive at Lancaster Farm where fields lead to Higher House Farm. From here there are more views to Beacon Fell, the Bowland Fells.

The football match down the road is notable for its spectators’ foul language drifting across the town. Welcome home. It is five o’clock when I turn down my road with a knowing nod to that neighbour.

*****

 

 

 

 

A RURAL RAMBLE FROM BASHALL EAVES.

28 years ago I remember a footpath above the River Hodder coming to an abrupt stop where a bridge was falling down. My son Chris and I were on a backpacking trip around the old Lancashire boundary. We had left Mossley, East of Manchester, and worked our way through high Pennine country, Pendle, Ribble Valley and now we were heading north through Bowland towards Arnside. After getting through the no access, closed and danger barriers we balanced precariously across crumbling masonry high above a stream and carried on our way. Do I have a photo somewhere of that day?  I often wondered what happened to that bridge above Mill Brook. Today I set off to find out.

I parked next to the village hall in Bashall Eaves and set off along a farm track to Mason Green Farm. This turned out to be one of those almost industrial sized complexes. By chance I found a way around it and across fields, full of cows, in the right direction towards Agden Farm which seemed to be a Land Rover hospital. Numerous varieties of the marque were lined up in various states of repair, from a barn there were sounds of restoration.

The overgrown path dropped into a gully, the first of many today, and climbed out steeply on recently installed steps. Somebody must come here. I was now in pastures surrounded by all the familiar fells, Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Fairsnape group. I disturbed a few deer as I dropped into the next gully in Paper Mill Woods. This steep and rather slippery descent took me onto the banks of the River Hodder, full from the last few days’ rain. This is about the only access to the Hodder between Doeford Bridge upstream to Higher Hodder Bridge below. This makes me think that I must be on The Hodder Way a route devised by Clitheroe Ramblers and one I walked in recent times – I have no recollection of this demanding stage.  There was no bridge across the stream but it was no problem to hop across.

Climbing away from the river I pass three magnificent oaks. In the next field of long grass, my only objective is an ash tree on the horizon. Then it is down once more into woods and a difficult descent of a bluff to reach that bridge from years ago, now converted to a wooden structure spanning the stone abutments. There are references to Roman times but I think that is unlikely even though they passed by quite closely. This is a deep ravine, Mill Brook, and the new wooden bridge, rebuilt in 1997, is more impressive than in the photo.

A vague path climbed up through the woods to emerge into fields with open views to the fells. These were crossed and a final dip overcome to reach a track which follows a Roman road, Ribchester to Kirkby Lonsdale. It had taken me two hours to cover three miles and I was ready for a break and a snack.

Onwards I followed the lane to Lees House Farm, now supporting several developments. It’s called diversification. Steep paths lead down to a stream, Mill Brook once again.  Coming up the other side into an overgrown field was not easy if there was a path I didn’t find it.

From here to Micklehurst Farm was straightforward though I managed to herd a lot of sheep in front of me. This morning it had been all cows and now sheep everywhere. Barking dogs, thankfully chained, followed my progress through the farmyard. I’ve passed the road end to Micklehurst Farm many times, I think they are distant relations,  I never realised how far off the road the are.

On the corner is one of the entrances to Browsholme Hall, South Lodge, I sneaked a photo of the gatehouse and cottage.

Now I was onto little-used roads through woodlands some of which are described as nature reserves. I met a couple leisurely ambling down the lane, they had been out birdwatching.

Further on an old Alvis Speed was parked up. It was in fantastic condition. The owner working in a field nearby was obviously proud of the vehicle,1932,  – “all original bodywork”. He admitted that the engine wasn’t firing correctly, hence the bonnet was up for tinkering.

I continued down the lane to reach Saddle Bridge which I mentioned in a recent post.  It is always good to look at things from a different angle and I can’t resist a photo of a packhorse bridge.

Returning back up the path, Rugglesmire is passed, I trespassed a little to try and see the grade II farmhouse.

Into the hamlet of Bashall Eaves, a few cottages with evocative names – The Old School House, The Vicarage, The Old Forge, The Post Office etc.

The Old Forge.

There is also an old Lancashire Cheese press.

Just down the lane is The Red Pump, now a thriving inn/restaurant but it has a dark history. In 1934 a farmer, Jim Douglas, was shot whilst walking home from the pub and died later of his wounds. Investigations were hampered by a “wall of silence” from the villagers and the mystery has never been solved. There is talk of ghosts…..

I usually show a map of my wanderings below and I would suggest that any local readers of my posts try this unknown area. The first half of the walk is particularly scenic and interesting – the best of rural Lancashire, and the paths could with a bit more footfall.

*****

 

HISTORIC BOLTON-BY-BOWLAND.


A rambling afternoon.

The village of Bolton-by-Bowland lies in the SE of The Forest of Bowland bordering onto the Ribble Valley.  Until 1974 it was part of the West Riding of Yorkshire and indeed the surrounding area has a feel of the Yorkshire Dales, its history goes way back into medieval times. The Pudsay family were prominently involved with the village, its church and nearby Bolton Hall [demolished in the 1950s, more of that later.]

I started my walk today at the upper green with the Old Courthouse and village school.  [Frontispiece above]    Further up the lane I entered fields leading up and over to the hamlet of Fooden. There were mature parkland trees and here and there evidence, dykes, of old field patterns, these were quite common throughout today’s walk. As I crested the raise I was surprised to see dozens of men wandering the fields with metal detectors and little shovels, it turned out to be an organised group search. One find already was a diamond ring but they were mainly unearthing modern-day coins.

  Entering the small hamlet I met a lady resident excitedly trying to position a weather vein, incorporating a deer, bought at Tatton Garden Festival last week, on her property.  Her husband seemed long-suffering. The further conversation discussed the nearby Grade II* hall building, now empty after the owner died a couple of years ago, its adjacent sulphur spa and the attractive Grade II* cottage with dovecote across the way. By the time I’d finished exploring the weather vain was up and running. What a delightful place to live.

I found a path leading above the River Ribble. Below out of sight was the limestone Rainsber Scar, named in one section Pudsay’s Leap where allegedly a 16thC William Pudsay [from Bolton Hall] leapt on his horse to avoid capture for forging his own silver coins. I did see a herd of Deer on the far bank which judging by their spots may have been Sika.

I was heading for Bolton Mews the remains of Bolton Hall estate converted into private dwellings. One historical note is that King Henry VIth stayed here with Sir Ralph in 1464 at the time of the War of the Roses. Apparently, his divining skills discovered a spring now preserved as King Henry’s Well. Most of the estate is now out of bounds but the covered well can be seen over a wall.

Having circumvented the grounds of the hall I dropped down to cross a footbridge at an old ford on Skirden Beck.  The fields further on to the next footbridge were impassible with maize so I took a short cut fording the low Holden Beck to climb up to the road directly in front of Bolton Peel. This is another interesting house, 17th century with mullioned windows and a fine porch. In front of the building is a preaching cross. The base is ancient, one of four in the area, but the cross is 19th C. The Peel family were early Lancashire industrialists and gave the country a PM in 1841, we are getting a new one tomorrow!

After a fraught but thankfully short stretch on the busy road a fingerpost pointed me into fields leading to the not so historic Hague Farm. I had a friendly, if noisy, greeting from their labrador. Upwards to Rodhill Gate where I joined a sunken bridleway, an old drove lane,  going steeply up the hill. At the top views broke out of a moody Pendle Hill, the Yorkshire hills towards Skipton and to the north Craven Hills with Pen-y-Ghent proudly in the distance. A splendid spot for a late lunch.

A beeline through fields led to Lower Laithe, an isolated barn. Then it was down into the hamlet of Holden. Braxup House was outstanding with its date stone and unique Yorkshire upper windows.

Across the road was the busy Holden Clough Nursery. I frequently visited here when establishing my own garden 40years ago, what a different place then with the owner Peter Foley searching chaotic nursery beds for a plant of your choice,  Now all is changed, son John has revitalised the nursery into a ‘garden centre’ but still with an emphasis on plants. I had no money on me for a cuppa in their cafe.

A strange narrow stepped stile in a wall leads out of the village. I’m heading for 17thC Hungrill farm across the fields. On arrival, the nearby barn conversion takes my attention. A forded lane takes one into a large garden area in front of the impressive building. Several expensive cars litter the forecourt. Obviously private grounds not for me. I slink around the back on a stony track. This leads to fields with no obvious path or waymarks. I think I was distracted by all the wealth on show that I wandered into the wrong fields, waded into small streams, climbed barbed wire fences before coming out onto a road. A right ramble.

Unexpectedly in front of me was a gate leading into a field by the Skirden Beck running down inro B-by-B at the bridge where I was relieved to arrive back unscathed.

I still had time to look around the village at its fine houses and lower green with a stone cross.

Higher was the parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul, rebuilt in the 15th century by Ralph Pudsay. Inside I knew was a remarkable memorial stone to Sir Ralph, a large slab of limestone engraved with images of himself. three wives and twenty-five children!

That was a well-spent afternoon with some lovely buildings to be viewed as well as the surrounding scenery. I was surprised at the underuse of footpaths in a popular area with good waymarking on the whole.

*****

 
 

 

 

 

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

 Last night after a bouldering session at Craig y Longridge I drove up the fell and took in the familiar view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. In front of me were the Fairsnape, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack and Totridge Fells. How many times have I photographed this scene?  I’ve not been on the easterly of these for several years so there and then I decided on a full traverse of the range today. For every 100 visitors to Fairsnape there is probably only one on Totridge.

I can’t explain why I sat in bed with a couple of coffees delaying my departure. Sloth had taken control and it was with a great deal of difficulty that I finally emerged and started the walk at 11am. By then I realised a full traverse and return of 13 miles or so was impractical and I opted for a shorter 9miles from Saddle End, missing out Fairsnape. The heat of the last few days was diminished by a westerly breeze. Old tracks rise up from Saddle End farm and soon the open moor is reached. A steady metronomic pace is tapped out by my walking poles as I gain ground. There is not a soul in sight.

Saddle End Farm and fell.

On the 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 caught in a blizzard which resulted in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so police and locals searched with BAC loaning a helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy two Mountain Rescue teams were formed in the area, the forerunners of Bowland Pennine MRT.

I mention the above because it is thought the boys may have sheltered in a small stone hut. I remember early walks on Saddle Fell in the 70’s the hut being by the track I’m on today, its roof was almost intact. Now it is a pile of stones but with a tragic history which I recollect every time I pass.
Reaching the wild top of Saddle Fell ignoring the track to Fairsnape I turned east at the watershed to follow the fence towards Totridge seen a couple of miles away. This stretch of fell is usually one of the boggiest in the area, I’ve been pulled out of the depths on one occasion,  deciding which side of the fence is the least hazardous often means crossing repeatedly without any real advantage. Today however the peaty ground was bone dry and I could just enjoy the scenery without any risk of sinking, the wooden poles placed to give buoyancy in wet conditions totally unneeded. [By the way the best ‘path’ is on the left of the fence.]

The views are far stretching over the Bowland area and all the hills and valleys I’ve been walking recently are identifiable. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are in the hazy background. Difficult to capture on camera.

Up here in this bleak wilderness one plant brightened up the peat bogs – the yellow starry flowered Bog Asphodel.

All I had to do was follow the fence, there is one pond to navigate found and a short section above Whitmore where you leave the fence at a tangent and take off into the peat to regain a wall in a short distance before rising onto Totridge and a final open track to the trig point at 496m. The trig pillar is looking decidedly unstable as the peat below it erodes, it will topple before long.

From the top a small path, not marked on the map, heads NE to drop steeply off the fell towards Mellor Knoll. If the correct line is taken zigzags descend quite pleasantly, not so pleasant ascending.  Halfway down today I found a place to sit, eat my sandwiches and contemplate the views over the Dunsop and Hodder valleys. In the distance over Mellor Knoll was a glimpse of Stocks Reservoir I walked around last week and closer at hand, above the Hodder, the tree capped Birkett Fell again climbed recently.

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

I dropped down to the fell wall and joined the bridleway coming from Hareden which goes into woods of beech and chestnut where I met the first people of the day, three gents enjoying the area.

My way back was on a series of bridleways and paths linking remote farms in the limestone country below the fells. Higher Fence Wood, Dinkling Green and Lickhurst. From the latter the track went further back up into the fells than I remember and I speeded up a little as bad weather was coming in.

Lickhurst Farm.

I used to cycle these ways when my children were getting into mountain biking, I don’t remember these stepping stones by a ford below Burnslack.

I arrived back at the car just as the rain did, my dilatory start almost catching me out.

*****