Feeling rather despondent after struggling to cycle around Longridge Fell the other day. I had been hoping soon to embark on a multiday cycle tour but now I was full of doubts, what would be my daily mileage. Realistically, I should be able to average 40 miles or more per day in hilly country, but I thought I was falling short of that. I’m getting older and I don’t have a scale to measure myself against, what I could do 30 or even 20 years ago doesn’t apply any more. I’m getting out of my depth.
I eventually stirred myself this morning as the weather brightened — time to test myself. From my house to the top of Jeffrey Hill is a mere 4 miles but is constantly uphill with 700ft of ascent. I aimed to cycle it without a break. Today’s route is in red compared to the circuitous blue of a few days ago.
I started slowly up through Longridge’s burgeoning housing estates. Summoning up some speed to pass the dog walkers, trying to not look out of breath. At the golf club the road was closed for drainage works but I squeezed through to remount and climb triumphantly to the summit of Jeffrey Hill just past the car park. Views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills in one direction, the Three Peaks in the centre and Pendle in the other direction were too hazy for photography. A swoop down to the New Drop, now sold and being converted into apartments, and a right hand turn to follow the undulating road back past Craig Y, Upper Dilworth Reservoir and into town.
Approaching Jeffrey Hill.
Down to the New Drop.
Upper Dilworth Reservoir and The Fylde.
This took me just over an hour and I felt quite pleased with myself, slow but steady. I wouldn’t win any race, but I had proved to myself that my legs and lungs still have it. I’m trying to convince myself that cycling is wonderful. My next ride — that road going the full length of the fell to Birdy Brow and the Hodder. Watch this space, not that it will be very interesting.
Blue skies, sunshine and calm conditions, perfect for a local cycle ride. Longridge Fell is my regular walking ground, but today I was going to circumnavigate it on lanes from Longridge. You will notice my post is titled ‘around’ and not ‘up’, I had no intention of cycling the high road over the fell, there are enough undulations on the planned circuit.
There was a chill in the Autumn air but by the time I arrived in Chipping I was suitably warmed up. The road I took follows the north side of Longridge Fell before dropping to Higher Hodder bridge. A steep little hill up past a once popular inn had me puffing and to be honest I was always a little out of breath on any incline from then on, I’m having difficulty getting cycling fit. Walking is so much more relaxing.
Great Mitton and its Medieval Church are skirted, then the road winds up through the Ribble Valley to Hurst Green. I’d planned a break here as there are seats on the village green. A walker with his Spaniel had bagged the best one, but I ate my banana on an adjacent bench before going over for a chat about all things local, a pleasant diversion.
Back in the saddle, I was soon back into Longridge, feeling rather tired from this modest ride. I had covered 22 miles but had ascended 1600ft in the process, there are no flat roads in the Ribble Valley.
And that’s about it. I didn’t take many photos.
Couldn’t resist another picture of Cromwell’s Bridge over the Hodder.
Hurst Green interlude.
On arrival back home this gigantic corkscrew had arrived on the building site opposite me. Earlier in the year we, the local residents, stopped Barratts, in the guise of homely David Wilson Homes, from disruptive pile driving on this site which is probably unsuitable in the first place for building on due to the shifting sands. They are now having to drill down 30–40 ft to find solid ground, don’t buy a house on Inglewhite Meadow.
I was already halfway around The Guild Wheel today when I saw this sign… I wasn’t sure as to why it was alongside the works for the new Preston link road but it fitted my mood for today. I usually cycle the Guild Wheel anticlockwise for dubious reasons, but today I had decided to reverse it and go clockwise, which is what the majority do.
That led to a debate in my head as to how we choose the direction for a circular walk or in this case cycle ride. Clockwise is the obvious choice as the name suggests, but other factors come into consideration. If a route is chosen from a guide book then we will naturally follow its instructions for ease of navigation, expecting the author to have planned the optimum way.
Planning one’s own route from a map there are choices to be made. Gradients differ depending on the direction, you may favour a slow gradual ascent to a steep short one or vice versa. But then the descent has to be taken into consideration, a climb involving scrambling is usually safer in ascent. Do you tackle the climbing at the start of the day when you are fresh or be faced with it as you tire towards the end? If road walking is part of the route again is this better sooner or later.
Weather plays a part. The wind direction should be taken into account to try and avoid walking into a gale on the high ground, have the wind at your back in those situations. If rain and cloud is forecast it is usually better to be lower down when it is at its worst. Unfortunately our variable weather patterns mean there is no certainty in making the right decision.
It is possible that views, particularly in the mountains, are supposedly superior from one direction than the other, so this may influence your decision. Also, the position of the sun will influence you if photography is important.
This is becoming complicated. No two people will agree on the best option and it is interesting when walking with friends how our choices differ. Compromise is usually needed or the toss of a coin!
Linear walks come up with similar dilemmas. East to west or west to east. North to south or south to north. On long distance walks once you have made your choice if the weather changes bringing wind and rain into your face it’s a case of c’est la vie.
Whatever your choice you always have the chance to repeat the route in the opposite direction giving a totally new perspective. Two for the price of one. Next time you are out on your favourite walk or ride do it the other way round.
As I said that is what I was doing today.
But not only that. I pass a sign every time I cycle round pointing to a Riverside Walk Via Bullnose and today I intended to investigate.
I cycled along a shady path and then came out onto the embankment overlooking the River Ribble. This is in fact the outer wall of the basin leading to the docks, the ‘Bullnose’, separating the dock entrance from the Ribble. The glory days of the dock, once Europe’s largest inland dock, are long gone, they closed for commercial use in 1981 and now used as a marina and leisure facility. I was able to go right to the end of the Bullnose jutting out into the river for views out towards the estuary.
The Bullnose is obviously popular with anglers, judging from the number there today. They fish for eel and flounder, and this angler landed a small flounder whilst I was chatting to him.
Usually there is a bridge over the locks at the end of the promontory but today the lock gates were open so I had to backtrack around the outer basin to the main swing bridge at the dock entrance. I was then back on the guild wheel to complete my clockwise circuit with views back over to the Bullnose.
Sunderland Point is cut off twice a day by the tide, I double-check the tables before venturing forth today on my cycle. High tide is 12noon, so I can have a lazy start — don’t I always. My plan is to arrive at the coast after lunch, when the tide should be receding.
In the18th century Sunderland between Morecambe bay and the Lune was a busy port and ship building yard, with ships sailing to Africa and the West Indies. Cotton, sugar, rum, timber and the slave trade, it’s main stay. When wharves in Lancaster and Glasson Dock developed Sunderland’s trade finished. Many of the houses found here were originally warehouses associated with the port. In time, the point became known as Cape Famine. The hamlet’s two pubs, cargo warehouses, rope and block makers, customs house and shop have long gone. But in Victorian times it found a lifeline as a holiday and bathing resort, Little Brighton, But holidaymakers eventually preferred the bustling new seaside resort of Morecambe, with its smart buildings and multitude of attractions. Sunderland Point became the sleepy, out-of-the-way place it is today.
I park up at Halton bridge once again, unload my bike and take to the old rail line. There is something wrong — a strange noise coming from my pedals with each revolution. I stop to try to identify the source. Along comes a tattooed, long-haired ageing hippy on his city bike, “what’s the problem, mate?” His probable diagnosis was lack of lubrication. I stand there looking hopeless as he suggests going to his nearby flat to pick up the necessary tools and oils to solve my problem. In a few minutes he is back, we dismantle the left pedal and apply some much-needed oil. I can’t thank him enough. A good Samaritan has uplifted my mood for the day. I pedal off, relieved and immensely grateful.
The Millennium Bridge in the centre of Lancaster is looking stunning in the sunshine.
Easy pedalling has me into Morecambe in no time. The views across the bay to the Lakeland Hills are so much clearer than the other day. I arrive at the information board for the Way of the Roses, a 170-mile ride to Bridlington — now there’s an idea.
The promenade takes me to Heysham and onwards towards the docks. I thought I had spotted a lane going towards Middleton, but ended up in a massive caravan park under the two nuclear power stations. A friendly dog walker told me of a footpath out of the site onto Carr Lane. I found it and escaped onto the coastal lanes to Potts Corner. The end of the road on the edge of Morecambe Bay.
The tide was going out as I chatted to a fellow cyclist on a day out from Settle, I’m almost becoming one of the inner circle of cyclists. A kestrel hovers overhead. In the distance, a ferry was heading for the Isle of Man. Vast open spaces.
Some soggy, muddy and saline riding and pushing on a vague track led me towards Sunderland Point.
I arrive at the site of Sambo’s grave on this windswept peninsula. ‘Sambo’, a generic name, had arrived at the Point in 1736, a cabin boy. Probably abandoned, the little African boy perished in the port’s brewhouse. Deprived of burial in consecrated ground, his body was interred in this field, overlooking the sea. A local man wrote a verse about him 60 years after his death, which is on a plaque on the grave. The grave is regularly visited and is festooned with messages and mementos. A memorial to the slave trade.
A wall has been built around the grave and it doesn’t seem to have the desolate atmosphere I remember from my last visit. This is further diminished by nearby structures — a wooden bird hide and an art installation, Horizontal Line Chamber, a camera obscura by Chris Drury.
I entered the stone igloo and managed this image for you, an upside down coastal horizon. A narrow lane leads to the village of Sunderland. A man is working on the old pub’s brewhouse where ‘Sambo’ supposedly died. The pub itself stands on the edge of the harbour, its present owner sitting outside gave me all the history. A line of stone pillars denoting the extent of the wharf. Of course with the tide being out one doesn’t get the full impact of this having been an important port.
I go along to the southerly terrace of houses which have been converted from former warehouses. Farther on is Sunderland Hall built by a Robert Pearson, a date stone states 1683. I should have dumped my bike here and walked to the actual point — next time. A good excuse to return to this unique place, there is much more to explore.
Across the water is Plover Light guiding ships into the Lune. Built in 1847 it was lit by paraffin lights until the 1950s when it became fully automated. There is a Pathé News clip of a Mrs Parkinson, the then light keeper in 1948, going about her duties.
In 2016 it was badly damaged by a passing ship, the light had to be removed whilst reconstructing the stone base took place. I remember seeing it in its truncated form from Cockersand Abbey in that October with the light housing on the beach…
The afternoon was passing and it was time to ride across the muddy causeway back to the ‘mainland’. The mud flats on either side have an eerie appearance Once off the marsh I cycle into the little village of Overton, past the historic Ship Hotel and on to find St. Helen’s Church. It is on a hill south of the village, looking out over the Lune and Glasson Dock. Originally 12th century, it has had several restorations and alterations, but retains its Norman doorway. A signed cycleway alongside the Lune avoided the rush hour traffic. I pass the Snatchems Inn where in the past youths were plied with drink and then ‘snatched’ as crew for the sailing ships leaving the port in Lancaster. When they sobered up they would be halfway to Africa. It is now called the Golden Ball and looks in a sorry state. In the fading light I catch an unusual view of Ingleborough.
Interestingly, as I approach the Millennium bridge in Lancaster on the far side of the Lune was the wharf, warehouses, and Customs Office of the old Lancaster port, St George’s Quay, which put an end to Sunderland’s prosperity.
I have really enjoyed the peace and relative remoteness of Sunderland Point today, an antidote to our modern hectic lives. Oh! And my pedal was silent and stayed on to the end of the 25 miles.
There are some dramatic YouTube drone videos of this windswept coast with the tides in and out. Such as…
Over the years I have posted several reports of cycling The Preston Guild Wheel. The last one was Dec. 2020. Now that I’m back in (enforced) cycling mode it was time for a revisit.
As usual, I park at the Red Scar Industrial Estate and unload my bike thus avoiding the increasingly busy road through Grimsargh. Going anticlockwise, I seem to pass most cyclists coming the other way, all with a cheery hello. There is a new stretch of tarmacked cycleway leading to Durton Lane in amongst new developments, avoiding the traffic on Haighton Lane. From now on it is one new housing development after another, some have been completed since my last visit with others half finished with brave new owners living amongst the mess. Frighteningly, any other available space, green or not, is fenced off ready for the bulldozers. It is all very depressing.
I enter the mature estates of Cottam where the cycleway weaves between houses. As usual, I’m not paying attention and come up against a gate I don’t remember, of course I was lost and had to backtrack to pick up the route. Along here I almost had my first ‘road kill. — a squirrel ran as close to my front wheel as possible without being squashed.
The wrong gate.
On through the University playing fields and out along the Ribble Link Canal. Here are more diversions where the M55 link road is being constructed, it doesn’t seem to have progressed much since my last visit.
I notice men with big camera lenses alongside the dock railway and with a little luck as I cycle the Ribble Embankment along comes a steam train for some extra excitement.
Preston’s Parks whizz by and I’m soon leaving the Ribble into Brockholes Nature Reserve, I didn’t stop to visit the ‘getting to know snakes’ encounter advertised for this afternoon. I’m always glad to get out of the saddle for a while for the push up the steep hill of Red Scar back to the crematorium and my car. But today on a whim I went round again, another 21 miles, albeit more slowly, there are more hills than you realise. I have a secret plan and I need to see if I’m getting cycling fit, the answer is not quite yet.
In my head were the lyrics “round and round and up and down I go again” which I couldn’t place. Once home Google soon unearthed Let’s Twist Again, a big hit for Chubby Checker in 1960.
This is not to be confused with Twist and Shout which became a Beatles hit. They performed it at The Royal Variety Performance in 1963 when famously John Lennon said “For the people in the cheapest seats clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery” much to the amusement of the Queen Mum. But I digress.
I hadn’t intended to come to Heysham but the day seemed suited to exploration. I had parked up again at Halton station and cycled into Lancaster on the old line, as I did last week on my trip to Glasson and beyond. My plan today was to continue on the 69 cycle way into Morecambe and then explore the coast northwards. I was soon crossing the Lune on the Millennium Bridge and then taking another old railway line, still cycle route 69, westwards.Two thirds along here I noticed a marked turning perhaps towards Heysham and on a whim diverted off onto what must have been a branch line of the railway. I was now in the hands of the sign setter. At first, I was on a cycleway between horse paddocks, but then I was directed into suburban streets, thankfully traffic free. Signs were followed until I lost them, and then I followed my nose into the inevitable cul-de-sac in Higher Heysham. A bit of backtracking and then a bit of the main road past the C16th Old Hall Inn down to the ferry terminal. Not the best way into Heysham.
At last the sea was now in sight. The road came to an abrupt end, but I was able to cycle through on a rough path to arrive at Half Moon Bay where there was a café, but every seat was taken. An advantage of cycling over walking is that it is easy to continue on to the next source of refreshment, though that didn’t quite work out.
Half Moon Bay.
Onwards and I found myself in Heysham Village. Lots of quaint alleyways, I remember from years ago a house selling potted Morecambe Bay shrimps, but couldn’t see it today. Soon I’m alongside St. Peter’s Church. It is thought that a church was founded on this site in the 7th or 8th century. Some of the fabric of that church remains in the present church. In the graveyard is an Anglo-Saxon cross and a stone grave. A track goes up onto Heysham Head to the ruined C8th St. Patrick’s Chapel. Most people come here to view the ‘stone tombs’ — a group of six rock-cut tombs and a separate group of two rock-cut tombs. Each tomb has an associated socket, probably intended for a timber cross. I have to say that today with a perfect blue sky and clear views they were magical.
I found my way back onto the promenade around Morecambe Bay. Views across the water to the Lakeland Fells held my attention as I approached the West End of Morecambe. I was soon alongside the 1930s art deco Midland Hotel. Somewhere along here is the proposed site of the Eden Project North, which is expected to bring back prosperity to this ageing seaside resort. I’d never been down the ‘stone jetty’ to the old lighthouse, it was along here that a fellow blogger described what she thought was the ugliest sculpture, I’m inclined to agree with her.
Also on the jetty is a bell that only rings at certain high tides. This bell is one of several around the coast of Britain connecting us with our maritime heritage and a timely reminder of climate change. https://timeandtidebell.org/#
“Bay surging, channels filling, sun setting, I ring, I sing. Listen in.” written by the local artist community is going to be engraved onto the bell. I must come back one day at high tide.
The promenade is wide all along the front so cycling was possible without endangering the crowds enjoying views. I don’t stop at every attraction, I came this way back in 2109 whilst walking A Lancashire Monastic Way, but I have to visit Eric Morecambe’s statue on a sunny day like this.
Commander C G Forsberg. Master Mariner and Marathon Swimmer.
From time to time I stop and gaze across the water to the Lakeland silhouettes and as I round the Bay, Arnside Knott and Grange become more prominent. “Best view in Britain” one of the locals tells me. I knew of a café at the far end of the promenade where I thought I would get a snack, but time had flown, it was now 3.30 and they had closed.
The main road had to be used to enter Hest Bank where I found a garage that sold coffee and pies. I sat outside, still enjoying the warm sunshine. It’s always a mistake to ask a local motorist for directions when you are walking or cycling. ‘Go down the road until the traffic lights‘ – no mention of how far that is. ‘Follow the signs to Slyne and at the T-junction turn left to Halton’. After the lights half a mile away, I ended up on the busy A6, there wasn’t a T-junction and I was almost back to the garage where I started. At least I was on higher ground and had a good run down over the M6 into Halton, with the Bowland Fells in the background, and over the narrow bridge to my car, the last in the car park.
There may not be many more days like this as Autumn draws in — bring me sunshine any day.
I thought I’d give this post a sexy title to boost readership. Not that I look at all sexy in my fading Lycra cycling shorts. There should be an age limit for appearing in public wearing Lycra, and whatever it is I am long past it.
I’ve driven up the motorway, coming off at Junction 36 and found the narrow lane leading down to a car park at the redundant Halton station. This is on the old Morecambe to Wennington line which closed under The Beeching Act in 1966. Route 69 of the National Cycle Network connects Hest Bank on Morecambe Bay with Cleethorpes on the East coast and uses this section of line from Morecambe to Caton. Off I pedal westwards on the 69 into Lancaster. The River Lune is mainly hidden and I don’t recognise much until the Millennium Bridge where the 69 crosses the river. I’m heading to Glasson Dock, so I stay on the south side of the water. There seem to be a multitude of cycle paths in Lancaster and just following my nose I end up under the castle with the priory church looking down on me. A few streets later and I find my way back to the river which is not looking its best, the tide is out exposing lots of mud. I’ll locate the correct way next time.
Under the M6.
The canal aqueduct.
The new Greyhound and Millennium Bridges.
Priory church — getting lost.
Eventually I’m safely on the old railway track heading to Glasson. Lots of cyclists are using this route, I keep leapfrogging various parties as we go at different speeds, and I’m frequently stopping to take pictures of the Lune estuary. I have walked this stretch in the past when I was connecting a Lancaster Monastic Way. It is interesting to contrast walking a route and cycling it. One misses the little details as you ride by and although everyone says hello there is no chance to chat, that is until you reach a café and then can delve into gears and stems. As I don’t know one stem from another, I avoid the busy cyclists’ rendezvous at Glasson and cross over to the little shop which has freshly baked pies and good coffee. Here I can talk to the mature couples who have motored here for a good old-fashioned afternoon out. And of course there are the fishermen with their ready tales of yesterday’s catch.
Glasson across the marshes.
Up the creek?
Smell that coffee.
A lot of the cyclists head back the way they came, but I’m in for exploring different options that I’ve spotted on the map. So off I go along the rough narrow track, you couldn’t call it a towpath, alongside the Glasson Branch Canal to meet up with the Lancaster Canal. Ahead are the Bowland Hills, looking splendid in today’s sunshine. An easy option would be to follow the canal back to Lancaster, but I’ve walked that stretch many times.
The Glasson Branch
Endless games of fetch the stick.
Junction with the Lancaster Canal.
So again I go my own way again, threading through Galgate and onto lanes crossing the motorway and leading into the hills. There is only one bit I have to walk up, and then I’m onto the lovely high level road to the scattered houses of Quernmore. From up here are views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Fells with the Bowland hills rubbing at my right shoulder. I sweep down past the isolated Quernmore church and on to the entrance to Quernmore Estate at Postern Gate which I recognise from our ‘trespass’ on the straight line from my house to Sir Hugh’s in Arnside. I daren’t risk cycling through today so I take the busy road down to Caton and am soon back onto that rail line — Route 69.
Lancaster University, Morecambe Bay and Black Coombe.
Postern Gate — tempted.
Down to Caton.
This last section back to Halton is impressive by dint of passing over two viaducts above the Crook Of Lune built in 1849 to carry the railway. This is a popular spot today with tourists, walkers and cyclists. There are stunning views up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough. Turner’s painting of the scene, pre railways, shows the original Penny Bridge carrying a road. This road bridge was rebuilt in 1889 and stands just below the East Viaduct. A long stretch in trees with little sight of the river has me back at Halton Station.
The Lune valley eastwards.
Crook of Lune road bridge.
I go down to the river near the wrought iron lattice bridge built in 1911 from the remains of the Original Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster. Sitting quietly in the sunshine, contemplating the slow flow of water before hitting the motorway. I didn’t need that sexy title — this landscape has no need of titillation.
Not a footpath in sight, not a stile climbed, not a fell summited, and you will be pleased to hear not a church visited. Oh! Well, maybe just one. My heel is playing up just when the weather is bucking up. Not to be defeated, I drag my bike out of the garage and do a few short rides around Longridge. So today I was ready for a longer ride. Out to Bashall Eaves, Cow Ark, Chipping, Whitechapel and back, about 29 miles (47 km) or so.
Cycling brings a different aspect to one’s locality. No flowers to identify, no birds to watch, no passing conversations. Just the tarmac ahead and that steep ascent looming. Today I concentrate on the inns that I pass, past and present. In the Ribble Valley and Bowland we have been lucky to have had an excellent selection of quality establishments. Rural inns have a long pedigree, their names tell us much of the local history. Unfortunately the country inn has suffered from economic pressures and several hostelries have bitten the dust. Covid has had a serious effect on the hospitality business.
On my corner is the Alston Arms, now The Alston which has had several reincarnations since its establishment in 1841. It has survived the COVID lockdowns and seems as busy as ever with locals, a large outside seating area has helped. Strange that I have not visited since over two years ago, when it was the favourite venue of my friend developing Alzheimer’s disease. She always ordered the same — fish, chips and mushy peas. And they were good!
The second one encountered on the road is the Derby Arms, recently reopened after a period under a fish franchise, The Seafood Pub Company, It looked open today for lunch, so all is well, hopefully. The area around here was part of the Derby Estate. The Stanley Family, Earls of Derby, established lands in Thornley here, hence the pub’s name.
Along the way through Chaigley I pass the former Craven Heifer Hotel. The Craven Heifer became a popular pub name, particularly in the Craven area, so I don’t know how one popped up in Bowland. This hotel was a regular eating place at the end of the last century, it closed Christmas Eve 2008. Since then, it has been a private residence.
On the way down to the Hodder I passed these gates which are normally locked. Today they were open, and I had a quick peep into their lands, with a lake and a large house in view. No idea who lives here. Chadswell Hall.
I stopped off at the Higher Hodder Bridge, the river was as low as I’ve seen for a while. Just up the road is the former Higher Hodder Hotel. This was another hotel with a long period of serving good food and ales. It became well known to the fishermen casting in the Hodder below. I noticed on an old photograph a petrol pump in its forecourt, those days are long gone. Its demise came in 2001 with a severe fire from the kitchen. Bought by a local businessman and converted into apartments. It still has problems with erosion from below where the Hodder flows, undermining the banks. One day it may all fall into the river.
At the next crossroads I knew of an ancient milestone but had never stopped to investigate, Today I had a good look at it. There was lettering on two sides with mileages. On the West face To Preston 10M. To Gisburn M8. On the North face To Lancaster 16M. To Whalley M3. 1766. It turns out that this is Grade II listed.
The next pub is the Red Pump in Bashall Eaves. This had been closed for some time when it was resurrected by the present owners in 2014, who turned it into a ‘gastropub’ with accommodation including recently added Glamping Yurts and Shepherd Huts. I notice that it has restricted opening hours, so calling in for a pint is not always possible. The pub has a connection to a murder mystery that was never solved.
Some serious pedalling has to be done climbing the road towards Browsholme Hall who have got in on the café scene. No time to visit today. On through the strangely named hamlet of Cow Ark and soon I’m freewheeling down the road which follows the line of the Roman Road from Ribchester to Carlisle and back over the Hodder at Doeford Bridge.
The Gibbon Bridge Hotel is a little farther on and has a history only going back to 1982 when the family diversified from farming to catering. Over the years the hotel has grown and particularly in recent times with the focus on weddings. They still do a good lunch in the dining room, with magnificent views over the gardens and Chipping Vale.
Chipping at one time had three pubs in the village. The Talbot has been closed for years and is looking in a sorry state. Opposite, the Tillotson’s is now open again but has annoyingly random hours, they were missing trade today as lots of tourists were wandering around the quaint village.
The Sun has had a renaissance and is now thriving both as a locals’ drinking pub and a reliable eatery. It is reputedly the most haunted pub in Lancashire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA1MZp3WYdI I couldn’t resist a wander around the churchyard looking for Lizzie Dean’s gravestone.
The Cobbled Corner Café has not reopened — it was a favourite with cyclists.
The Dog and Partridge just outside the village dates from the 16th century but closed in 2018 and is up for sale for residential development. Sign of the times.
I now head out to Whitechapel on narrow lanes under the shadow of Beacon Fell, When I first came to this area in the early seventies a curiosity was the Cross Keys Inn run by a farming family. It had irregular hours depending on work on the farm, a quirky bar, a good pool table. Late night sessions were common. At times, if the landlord was busy elsewhere, there was an honesty box for the drinks you had consumed. The inn was known, tongue in cheek, as The Dorchester! It closed over a decade ago but was bought by a local builder who has restored it along with accommodation units and has recently reopened it. Again, as the case with many of these rural pubs they are not open every day, particularly at the beginning of the week, but it is good to see it trading and I’ve promised myself a pint there soon.
Down the road is yet another Lancashire village, Inglewhite, centred on a village green and a cross. The pub here is called The Green Man and has a date stone of 1809. Green Men go back to pagan times and are a fairly common inn name — the sign here depicts a typical Green Man. This pub has been closed off and on for several years, reflecting the difficulties of successfully running a rural inn. Let’s hope it stays open for the foreseeable future. It was not open today!
Homeward-bound now with tiring legs, I pass the last rural pub — Ye Horns Inn. An 18th century listed building that closed four years ago. It had been run as a family business for decades, famous for its Goosnargh Roast Duck reared down the road, and its unique wooden panelled snug located behind the bar. New owners have developed the site with residential properties, but hope to reopen the pub soon. I await with bated breath. Another unique feature here is the men’s urinal across the road from the pub. Not sure how many drunken patrons were run down on this precarious crossing.
It is strange that my trip around all these rural inns didn’t involve any alcohol intake but as you saw several are closed for good, others concentrate on dining and others have limited opening. With a bit of organisation and forward planning, a right good pub cycle could be achieved around the eight trading pubs— but whether it would be legal or safe to ride a bike at the end of it would be debatable.
I could hear rustling in the ferns behind me all evening and when I looked some movement in the vegetation and the occasional squeak, but no clue as to what was in there. I was bouldering on the north facing wall of Sweden Quarry, which gave shade from the hot sun, even so I was sweating profusely, we are just not accustomed to temperatures in the high 20s. The quarry hosts quite a bit of bird life – blackbird, wren, robin, chiffchaff, blackcap, mallard and no doubt many more. Barn owls nested earlier in the season. It is a great place to sit and take in the ambience such as it is with old tyres, fencing and rotting trees cut down in the plantation a few years ago. The pool at the bottom has shrunk greatly in this recent drought.
I was about to leave when I spotted something yellow out of the corner of my eye, in fact, there were two yellow blobs in the grass. The squeaking became louder as Mother Duck led her brood out of hiding down to the drying up pool at the base of the quarry. The other four chicks were brown and well camouflaged, it was the two yellow ones that gave the game away. I grabbed my phone for a quick shot, but then realised they were out to play for a while, so I was able to retrieve my camera and sit down to enjoy their display. Mother floated quietly whilst the chicks darted about exploring, exercising their legs and no doubt eating the odd green morsel. After some time, Mother decided they had had enough and marched them back into the undergrowth to hide away for the night. I hope the ducklings survive but fear for the yellow ones who are all too obvious to any predator. I will report back on further sightings over the next week. (Still six there two days later) So how unusual are yellow ducklings? Mallards, Muscovy and domestic ducks have occasional yellow ducklings, many of these develop into white ducks – so we will see.
The joys of living in the Ribble Valley on an evening like this.
Thursday, July 15th. 7.5 miles. Knowle Green/Longridge Fell.
10am. As usual, I’m festering in bed with a second coffee and the day is drifting away. The high temperatures ensure I’m not rushing off anywhere. The phone rings and I prepare myself for fending off Amazon Prime or Netflix scams. But no, it is JD enquiring if I’m wasting the day or would I like a walk, 5 or 6 miles up the fell? I say yes to the latter and hurriedly sort myself out to meet him at the top of town. Things have gone quiet since my trips away, I’ve been bouldering up in Sweden Quarry the last few days, where there is shade from the hot sun, but my arms need a rest, so a walk is perfect.
We take the path through Green Banks Quarry housing estate, given planning permission on the understanding that it would be for tourist lets and bring prosperity to Longridge, what a joke. A bridleway goes down to the Written Stone, all familiar territory. We catch up, he’s been away in the Lakes, and I’ve been straight lining it to the North Sea. Our vague plan was to walk field paths above Knowle Green and then maybe climb up onto Longridge Fell.
Coincidentally, one of the last times I was here was with Sir Hugh on that straight line walk I mentioned earlier, back in winter 2019. https://bowlandclimber.com/2019/02/04/sd-38-longridge-to-barrow-whalley/ So I had a ready-made continuation walk on paths not known to JD or to many others, judging from their wildness. The same farmer who appeared from his run down house back in 2019 was eager to chat again today. He was all talk of shearing his sheep tomorrow and how if he penned them in on his cobbled area they would clean the yard of vegetation. There is no money in sheep wool these days. He warned us that the footpath ahead was difficult to follow, but I thought I knew better until we ended up in the wrong field. I did at least find the hidden way across Cowley Brook.
Working our way up pathless fields to Hougher Hall was hot work, the dreaded Horse Flies were a menace. The slate poem by the gate is a lovely reference to swallows, unfortunately there aren’t many about this year.
It was with some relief that we arrived at the open fell by the little reservoir. This where JD pulled out an ace and set his stove up to prepare a decent coffee with biscuits. Luxury. Friends of mine wild swim in this water, but I see that a ‘No Swimming’ notice has been erected since last I was here. Presumably, United Utilities Health and Safety.
Refreshed we continued up onto the fell, looking back the reservoir appeared hazily below. We had no need to visit the trig point, and it was now all downhill on the spine of aptly named Longridge Fell. There was some friendly discussion as to the length of our walk, JD’s 5 or 6 probably transformed to my 7 or 8 miles.
Guess what, we finished the afternoon having another coffee with his wife on their sunny patio with that wonderful Bowland Panorama.
We hadn’t intended to explore Whalley, as the walk that Mike had found written up in a booklet only skirted the village, but on a whim, we parked near the Abbey. I have visited Whalley many times, most recently on my Lancashire Monastic Walk The C13th Parish Church has always been closed when I’ve passed by but this morning we were in luck, and I was able to view the elaborately carved stalls in the chancel. They date from about 1430, and came out of Whalley Abbey after the dissolution. The misericord carvings under the seats represented all manner of everyday subjects. There were several cage pews usually belonging to one family for prayer but also near the door a churchwarden’s pew seating eight. The stained-glass windows were resplendent in the bright sunshine.
Back outside we couldn’t resist the jam and chutney sale for church funds, I came away with some lovely marmalade which we took back to the car. An hour had passed and we hadn’t even reached the start of the walk. We decided against visiting the Abbey.
Cutting down the side of the abbey brought us into a mews development based on an old corn mill, we were to pass the weir and mill race on the River Calder shortly. This whole area was inundated in the Boxing Day floods of 2015…
Down a pleasant street of cottages, all with immaculate gardens, and we were en route. There was very little water in the river today, it’s hard to believe its destructive power. Crossing a road, we entered a field which has been taken over by mountain bike tracks and jumps, they look great fun for the youngsters.
It took patience to cross the busy A671 road to reach a path up the golf course. Above the course, steep fields continued with good views back to Whalley Nab and Kemple End. No sooner were we up than the guide had us perversely coming back down again. We were not very impressed with the guide’s vague instructions. Young bullocks blocked our way, hens free ranged and horses followed us. More fields (“aim for a bush”) and then we were in the manicured grounds of Read Hall. Mike recollected a bumpy landing in a hot air balloon here, but he obviously survived.
Puzzled by the guide.
Whalley and its Nab.
Kemple End and distant Bowland.
Read Hall Gatehouse.
An old lane took us down to pass a busy little garden centre, we smelt coffee and were drawn in but queues and Covid regulations suggested a long wait, so we escaped without spending any money.
The path onwards followed the banks of the Calder until we climbed out of the valley to pick up an ancient packhorse track heading towards the Abbey.
This went around rather than over Whalley Nab and to be honest we didn’t get the best of views down to Whalley. A lovely day for a walk through beautiful English countryside, but as I said the guide was poor, we could have and should have devised a far better round ourselves.
I first looked into this large hole in the ground, hidden in the forest on Longridge Fell, many years ago and climbed a few routes as well as some boulder problems. I called it Sweden because of the fir trees. Time passes and one’s attention goes elsewhere, but I never forgot. With travel restricted, the popular bouldering venue Craig Y Longridge became even more crowded at times, so I stayed away. I remembered this place though, the trees have been felled and the plantation has become popular with dog walkers. I mentioned it in a post a while back. Well since then on sunny evenings I’ve been visiting this place, cuckoos are calling across the way, mallard ducks are paddling in the pool below and barn owls have successfully nested in the higher parts of the quarry. The Ribble Valley is a distant view away. Magic and memories.
Looking back through my photos from 25years ago, I have found pictures of the walls up here with dotted lines drawn to show the problems I had succeeded on. The clean wall I’m now revisiting used to have JOKER in large red letters painted right across it, that has faded completely. And now the joke is on me, as I’m finding all the problems far harder than I remember. Tempus fugit!
I used to climb here with Tony, Pete and dear old Dor. Everything was fun and everything was possible. They are all dead now, and I miss them so.
There has hardly been any rain in the last few weeks, it was bound to change and it was just The Rockman’s bad luck to be here today. I have not seen him for almost a year, so when he phoned to say he was passing en-route to Milnthorpe and would call in for coffee, I was delighted. I had recently declined to visit him in Bolton when their Covid figures were sky-high and travel there was discouraged. Times have moved on, and now the Ribble Valley is leading the way in UK infections. As he said, “that was no problem”.
I suggested a gentle walk up Longridge Fell and then a spot of lunch before his onward journey. The morning was dull when he arrived, optimistically wearing shorts and short-sleeved summer shirt. After a coffee and catch up, even my cat seemed pleased to see him, we drove up the fell. There were spots of rain in the air as we left the car. Our attention was diverted by a patch of orchids in the car park.
The track up the fell was as dry as I’ve ever seen it so the usual bog jumping tactics weren’t needed. Slowly the cloud lowered, blotting out any views of the Bowland Hills or the Yorkshire Three Peaks. We chatted away, ignoring the dampness, as he said, “it was only hill drizzle”. The summit cairn came and went, we had only passed one other walker on his way down. I navigated us into the forest for some shelter and a different way back. As he said, “there was little evidence of a path”, but I knew better and forged onwards, used to these hidden parts. It was only when we emerged from the trees heading downhill in the wrong direction that I admitted we could be lost or as all good explorers say “temporally displaced” Coincidentally at the time we were discussing Tilman who had his fair share of epics. The Rockman actually met Bill Tilman way back in the sixties down in Antarctica when the latter was exploring the southern seas and The Rockman working for the British Antarctic Survey, there was talk of penguins. Backtracking soon sorted out our problem.
When we next emerged from the trees the rain was continuous and as he said, “wetting”. You all know a summer’s day walking in unexpected rain. Speed was of essence, and we were soon back at the car driving home with the heater on. What was planned as a cold summer cucumber soup was quickly heated up to be more palatable on a day like this. I even switched the central heating on for the first time for months, this was not a success as it produced a dull droning noise throughout the house, I suspect coming from an ailing pump. Something to worry about later.
We enjoyed a good catchup and if he hadn’t come I would certainly not have ventured out, so some exercise was accomplished which we both agreed was worthwhile and should be repeated more often now we are hopefully coming out of lockdown, but maybe with an eye to the weather forecast. He drove away in a heavy downpour. As he said, “the luck of the draw”.
It was a lovely evening when I got round to another litter pick on Longridge Fell, I’ve been away. A Sunday often gives good results. The fields below in the Chipping valley were a wonderful patchwork as some have been cut ahead of others. The usual cans and crisp packets occupy the first few hundred metres from the car park. From then on there was little in evidence, perhaps someone else is covering the same route? Tonight however I must have been following in the footsteps of a chain smoker as there were cigarette butts at regular intervals, 20 a day? I don’t know how he or she had the puff to get to the top. As well as being a litter problem, I wondered about the fire hazard, as the fell is much drier than usual..
On the way back down, curlews were making a racket and sure enough a dog walker had his spaniel running around the fell. Of course, “he was well-behaved off the lead”
A little farther I came across a bird watcher I knew, he’d also had words with the dog walker to no avail. We chatted about curlews and other species still to be seen up here.
By the time I got back to the car, the sun’s rays were becoming weaker. Always a walk worth doing.
What am I doing here? In the middle of a field halfway to a trig point on Duckworth Hill with a farmer cursing us for trampling his private land. We retreat to placate him, fortunately I know most of his family and acquaintances, so after some gentle banter he leaves us to the futile pursuit of visiting trig points. We visit point 217 m and complete the day of a triple of trig points on these West Pennine Moors. Incidentally, not all were necessarily on the highest ground in the vicinity. It wasn’t my idea, but it actually provided an enjoyable walk, yes you’ve guessed it, I’m out with Sir Hugh again.
Sir Hugh on Duckworth Hill, 217 m, Pendle in the background.
Our meeting place at Immanuel Church turned out to be a large car park for our sole use. The first helpful bystander we met was cutting the cemetery grass, he suggested a route beyond our comprehension but visiting a splendid waterfall. After a brief walk in the wrong direction, we eventually reached open ground. Today most stiles and paths were adequately marked, any diversions were our mistakes. The wind turbines on Oswaldtwistle Moor watched our progress all day. At Jackhouse, an old farmhouse, we received more directions this time including a nature reserve.
Immanuel’s graveyard and our first ‘guide’
Jackhouse and our second ‘guide’
It being a sunny day we decided to visit the said reserve and walk around the lake. Unfortunately, we took our own path through the undergrowth, a waterfall was passed, and then further progress was impossible, an escape route was taken to find the correct path. This was pleasant with views over the lake, a former mill feeder. Onwards through a cluster of barn conversions, Cockerly Fold.
The ‘wrong’ waterfall.
Escaping from the jungle.
A better view of the nature reserve lake.
A barn being converted in situ.
We disturbed a lady sunbathing at Cocker Lumb Cottage, no picture this time. Cocker Lumb is the beck coming down this valley. Not many people come this way and she suggested heading for “the trees up there” – there was of course a profusion of arboreal growth. Rough meadows followed, in fact most of the land up here could be classified as rough meadow with little modern agricultural use, hence the profusion of horsey establishments. I’ve no idea how most residents arrive at their remote houses, there are many rough lanes which must communicate with the outside world.
Down by the beck a concrete obelisk in a field took our notice, it seemed to have a plaque on one side. There was no way of entering the field so we had to be content with futile zoom shots and futile internet research later.
Our unknown obelisk.
An unavoidable but short stretch along a busy road and we were at Mt. Pleasant Farm and our first trig point of the day, 308m. There wasn’t anything aesthetically pleasing about its position.
308 m – we didn’t investigate the blue thing.
An easy stroll took us across Accrington Moor alongside a golf course, Green Haworth, with lots more stables and horse enclosures all around. A little lateral thinking had us into the field containing our next trig but to our amazement it was totally enclosed by a fence keeping the horses away from a large manure pile. It didn’t take Sir Hugh long to breach the defences and claim 257m.
Green Haworth course.
Accrington in the valley.
a pile of ….
Our intrepid trig raider.
Getting out of the field meant following the boundary until a gate appeared. The one we used brought us out onto the road exactly opposite our onward footpath. It was time for lunch. Lanes took us back into the outskirts of Ossie where a large litter pick up was in progress, one lady was in Whams Brook unearthing all kinds of treasure. A wander around the graveyard and we were back at our car park after about five hours fresh air, there is more to visiting trig points than you realise.
Stiles -ancient and modern.
A remaining mill.
Classic mill terrace.
On the way home I drove over Longridge Fell and was surprised to see a parapenter circling and landing in the field above the caravan park. He had glided over from Parlick, 5 miles away, and was trying to reach his home in Longridge. He was pleased with himself and packed up to walk home to ride his bike back to Chipping to collect his car. I’ve never seen anyone land here before, but he told me he made it to Scarborough on one occasion.
This is a repeat of a walk I did on a lovely summer’s day last year and today was another perfect warm and sunny day. We drove over with the roof down for Covid safety and for the exhilaration of the Lancashire hill country. As we parked up a red kite was being mobbed by crows above our heads. A new notice board has been erected on the river bank highlighting the very walk I had planned for today. https://ribblelifetogether.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Slaidburn-route-guide.pdf We virtually met no one apart from in Slaidburn.
The flatness of the riverside meadows was in contrast to the steep wooded limestone escarpment to our left. Dunnow Hall was looking resplendent. Instead of using the road, we followed a concessionary alongside the Hodder all the way to Slaidburn. As usual, the café and car park were busy with tourists and motorcyclists. We sat by the bridge for a welcome drink before that steep pull up the road and into fields going over small hills to Easington. From up here the enclosing bare Bowland Hills were a contrast to the green wooded valleys. Swifts few overhead.
The little Easington Beck was followed to Easington Manor and hamlet. Mike was pointing out properties on the northern flanks of Easington Fell that he developed for a businessman who had just sold TVR (the then Blackpool built sports car). Money was no object. Now back beside the Hodder we followed an old cobbled track, known locally as the ’causer’, to the bridge at Newton. Sand martins, dippers and wagtails all made an appearance on queue.
Mike not impressed by the village hall.
Slaidburn bridge shading sheep.
Bowland at its best.
Back on the Hodder.
The pub in the village was closed, so we drove home for tea. A classic little circuit made all the more enjoyable by the weather, and of course the company.
For a more detailed description of the villages, have a look at …
The concept is straight forward: walk up Fairsnape, watch the sun set, bivvy, watch the sun rise, walk down.
That is precisely what I did last night. After supper, I drove out to Chipping and parked up under Parlick Fell. I know I should have walked, but it was a last minute decision. Several other cars were parked up, either late off the hill or with the same idea as me.
The lane to Fell Foot, Longridge Fell behind.
I trudged my way around the Western flanks of Parlick and onto the ridge leading easily to the trig point on Fairsnape. 510 m. My suspicions were correct, there were already two tents pitched near the top. A couple of lads out from Preston. A few more people wandered about and disappeared.
Where are you going?
I found a soft flat spot for my bivvy just east of the summit. Making a careful note in my mind as to its position.
I returned to the trig to photo the sunset over Morecambe Bay and Black Coombe. It could have been better.
I returned to my bivvy for a flask of tea and an early night, I don’t remember it getting really dark. The next thing it was after 4am, and I was awake. I got up and paced about in the cold wind waiting for the sunrise. It could have been better, although the light over Ingleborough was special.
Whernside and Ingleborough, 4.15am.
I decided to get back into my sleeping bag to get warm before walking down, and before I knew it the clock showed eight. Packed up at last I set off down and used the zigzags towards Higher Fairsnape. There was nobody about, so I took a more direct line to join the path above Blindhurst Farm and back to Fell Foot. Only near there did I meet the early birds going up.
Top of the Zigzags.
Looking back to my descent.
First met in the morning, they should have had a good day.
It is rare for me to discover a local path that I have not walked, but I believe I found one today.
Mike phoned suggesting a walk and we agreed on driving a little further in one car to Dunsop Bridge, with the windows open. How risqué.
The plan was to walk up the waterboard road and traverse the boggy watershed between Brennand and Whitendale. Heavy overnight rain made me have a rethink, lets just walk around the Hodder. We found a place in the free [keep it to yourself] car park next to the café. Morning coffees were already being served take away style.
A stroll past the ducks on the green and the ‘Centre of Britain’ phone box and we were striding down the avenue of giant Sequoias leading to Thorneyholme Hall. Before the River Hodder a stile on the left gave access to fields which we were able to follow alongside the water. Not many people come this way, it was my first time. Old trees have outgrown their metal railings.
There is a large pipe bridge taking water from Slaidburn Reservoir towards the Fylde and a little farther on a flimsy looking suspension bridge. We examined it for sturdiness, it wobbled a lot. Continuing up the river bank we had only sheep and lambs for company. Unfortunately we had a short section on the road at Boarsden, in retrospect we could probably have used tracks in the fields with a little trespassing. Anyhow, we were soon back on an indistinct field path passing by a massive quarry which had eaten away a considerable amount of rock from a Limestone Reef Knoll. After a look around the base of the quarry we continued across fields to a suspension bridge identical to the one seen earlier, at least on this occasion we were justified in venturing onto the bridge as the public footpath crossed it. Feeling seasick we crossed another field to come out onto a lane.
I recognised my surroundings now, and we marched along over Giddy Bridge, a solid stone one, not at all giddy like the suspension bridges. The Knowlmere Manor House lies just off the track and is noted for its many chimneys, each room in the past must have had a fireplace – think of their energy rating.
The track rises past Mossthwaite with the Bowland Hills ahead and that first little bridge far below. We witnessed a commotion amongst a flock of jackdaws ahead of us, only when reaching the spot did we see the Sparrow Hawk awkwardly trying to fly off with its kill. I wanted to visit the banks of the Hodder downstream from its confluence with the Dunsop where sandbanks are home to sand martins but today, strangely, there were none.