Category Archives: Lancashire.

THE TOLKIEN TRAIL.

I was weary from my day’s exertions with Sir Hugh on our SD 38 walk which involved quite a bit of travelling time today so I asked JD to sort something out for the morrow whilst I soaked in the bath.

He had researched in a book ‘Birdwatching Walks In Bowland’ by David Hindle…

… and came up with The Tolkien Trail.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien regularly stayed at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley whilst his son was studying there. It is thought, perhaps optimistically, that he derived inspiration for his Lord of the Rings trilogy from the surrounding scenery. So JD had conjured up a historical and ornithological walk for this lovely sunny day, if I’d thought I would have brought my binoculars.  There is plenty of information for The Tolkien Trail on the VisitLancashire web site.

We started in Hurst Green and were surprised at the amount of housing development creeping into the green fields. A well used path into Stonyhurst College sports grounds, but there is a new sport, clay pigeon shooting, and warning signs have been erected as well as a probably ineffective ‘alarm bell’.

I had recently been reading of the original observatory at the college built in 1838 and succeeded by the modern one in 1866. So as we approached the school buildings I was keen to identify them both, old and new.

We walked out past the gardener’s cottage and then the houses of Woodfields were masters live. Pleasant fields take you into Over Hacking Woods and a staircase down to meet the Hodder. We hadn’t seen many birds up to this point, apart from Robins singing full throat, but the woods had a truly Tolkien atmosphere.

Below us were the original ruined changing rooms for the college’s swimming lessons in the river, I think they have an indoor pool nowadays. I mentioned these in a recent post when we passed this way. Up the slope is Hodder Court previously a preparatory school, but now private dwellings with a statue of Gandalf in one of the gardens. shame the trail leaflet doesn’t mention it. See the above post for pictures.

An Australian couple were following us with their friendly dog and it couldn’t wait to get immersed in the river. We saw a few ducks along this wonderful stretch of the Hodder.

This was the third time I’d arrived at Lower Hodder Bridge in a week so didn’t intend to show more views of ‘Cromwell’s Bridge’ however when we joined The Ribble Way and rose above the river there was a good view back down to the two bridges.

We knew about the heronry in the tall trees next to Winkley Hall Farm and sure enough we saw Herons flying in to their nests. Whilst watching them I spotted a small bird flitting through the hedge, a rare sight of a Gold Crest.

Where the Hodder meets the Ribble we found a fisherman’s hut with a bench, a perfect spot for lunch and watching the rivers run by.

Along the next stretch is the site of Hacking Ferry used until 1955, the last boat is in Clitheroe Castle Museum apparently. Across the river is the 17th century Hacking Hall near where the Calder enters the Ribble.

An Egret was spotted on the far bank, a couple of Canada Geese also but no Kingfishers or Dippers.

Before long we left the river and headed back to Hurst Green coming through the car park of the Shireburn Arms, we were tempted by a pint but looking at the state of our muddy boots decided not to. All day Pendle had been brooding in the background.

*****

SD 38. BARROW TO NELSON.

We are out walking our SD 38 line again. A lane leads steeply out of Barrow through mainly new housing, ribbon development if ever I saw it. Crossing the busy A59 we continued climbing into Wiswell, an interesting little hamlet with a famous gastro pub. A van was delivering organic vegetables to houses, one of these expensive subscription ideas where you probably finish each week with a box still full of potatoes and carrots. From here the route became moorland onto a ridge which was really an outlier of Pendle Fell, the mast marked on the map seems to have disappeared. We had climbed 500ft in a mile and were beginning to steam in the mild weather. Sabden could be seen in the distance. Below us was the large hidden valley of Sabden Brook and we slowly made our way down to pick up tracks into the village. I mentioned the famous Sabden Treacle Mines of which Sir Hugh had no knowledge, sadly they are no more and I will leave those with curiosity to investigate. We followed lanes to the 19th century church and then out past a farm from where a pipe led into the fields. This pipe actually came out of the midden slurry tank and snaked  into the fields, a tractor pump was starting up to inflate the pipe which we followed almost hypnotically for several fields. Eventually the pipe seemed to connect up with another tractor with spreading machinery, but nothing happened. By now we realised we were off track so diverted back onto a rough farm road. This led to the 16th century Dean Farm  with its wonderful mullioned windows and incongruous 19th century extension.  Muddy fields and rough reedy grass below the ridge of the so called Forest Of Pendle led us to lunch on the wall of Tinedale House. A climb onto the grandly named Rigg of England which was mainly equestrian farms. Up here were good views back to the massive bulk of Pendle and across to Newchurch in Pendle which we had visited on The Lancashire Witches Walk.Below to the south was the industrial Burnley – Nelson – Colne corridor. It didn’t look too bad from up here. Ancient tracks down the hillside brought us into Fence alongside the White Swan pub where I recalled a seasonal wild garlic meal.  Where do these memories unexpectedly come from?

We made a mistake in trying to follow footpaths parallel with the busy road, we were hemmed in by unnecessary plastic ‘hedging’ on the boundary of more equestrian enclosures. Escaping eventually into a large graveyard, where we were surprised by the number of Muslim graves. We started dropping down into the valley alongside a small beck. Surprisingly green paths led us into the heart of the Lomeshaye Industrial Estate. At the large Wellocks complex we enquired what  ‘The perfect ingredient‘ was but unfortunately only Polish was spoken. Subsequently we discovered that it was a high end food distribution firm to the restaurant trade founded originally by a potato merchant whom Sir Hugh had known from his Yorkshire days. It was pleasant to enter Nelson through Victoria Park with its bandstand and paths alongside Pendle Water.

Under the motorway, over the canal and then a steep road heading up into Nelson town centre where we found the modern bus station which gave us a busy ride back to Barrow.

*****

 

 

 

 

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 3 – the two rivers.

Chatburn to Hodder Bridge.

As you may know I’m juggling a couple of routes giving winter walking, the northing SD38 across England with Sir Hugh and this shorter walk with The Pieman between our two towns. We meet up outside Hudson’s Ice Cream Parlour where we finished last time. I’ve enrolled JD [aka Doug] into today’s stroll, The Pieman appears from behind the ice cream cone.

We left the road by the church and followed paths down towards the river. An area popular with dog walkers judging by the number of poo bags hanging in hedges, I’ve given up commenting.

The Ribble was full with last night’s rain and snow melt. We were now on The Ribble Way skirting round the massive Horrocksford complex which produces a significant amount of England’s cement. The first bridge we came to was at West Bradford. After this we entered  a sculpture trail on the outskirts of Clitheroe. I think we missed most of the sculptures but noticed a few. None was outstanding.

After Brungerley Bridge we looked across to the impressive Waddow Hall a 17th century building owned by the Girls Guide Association and nowadays used as a wedding venue.Somewhere along here we passed muddy paddocks and then got sucked into new housing developments, they are everywhere, to arrive back onto the road at the sports centre. In the recreational ground we found a bench to watch the river go by and eat lunch. Edisford Bridge was built, at a former ford, in the 14th century and until 1600 was the only bridge upstream from Preston.

On the far side of the bridge is the eponymous hotel, having eaten we walked on by.

Complicated field paths led across to the complex of buildings at Withgill. All the while Kemple End, the eastern end of Longridge Fell, loomed above us, our onward route for another day.

The scenery improved and the paths became more interesting as we dropped down to the River Hodder.The river was crossed by the Higher Hodder Bridge with its historical boundary markings.This bridge is on our Skipton to Longridge line and from here our route will be up Kemple End and along Longridge Fell. But to finish off today we want to show the Yorkshireman some stunning scenery alongside the Hodder between the bridges.The familiar path undulates above the Hodder in splendid isolation. At one point a cross is seen, it has no inscription and local opinion is that it marks the spot of a drowning.Above us is the Stonyhurst estate and the long established Jesuit College. Down by the river are the remains of bathing houses where pupils changed before a bracing swim.And yet above us are buildings previously used by St. Mary’s Hall, a preparatory school for Stonyhurst College. It was closed in 1970 and converted into high-end living accommodation. There is a connection between Stonyhurst and Tolkien and hence there is a carving of Gandalf, the wizard, in the garden.

All that remained was a stroll alongside the Hodder to the Lower Bridge where the customany diversion was made onto Cromwell’s Bridge.

We had finished for the day. Rather mundane but highly enjoyable.

*****

SD 38. LONGRIDGE TO BARROW [Whalley]

Pendle in all its glory.

A bus runs two hourly back to Longridge from Barrow, there is one at about 5pm.  My bus app says there is one due in 5 minutes, we should be OK.   As we approached we found ourselves in newly developing housing,  we took to the access road only to find it was blocked with that wire fencing erected around building sites. Panic followed as we peered through the fencing at the nearby bus stop. We didn’t have time to burrow Colditz style under the security barrier but with a little lateral thinking we made our escape onto a nearby lane and as we arrived at the road an unidentified bus was approaching. A desperate outstretched hand somehow halted the bus and we clambered on thanking the driver. We were home and dry.

The day had started more sedately with a stroll through housing estates in Longridge until we were level with the quarries at the top of town. The caravan site in the largest quarry was closed for a few weeks and there was no one climbing in the esoteric Craig Y Longridge. Here we left the roads and took to a bridleway below the incongruous ‘chalet’ development that was so controversial when planne, it pales into insignificance with todays developments in the town.The only thing of note was a new seat with an agricultural theme.

Walking on water.

Down the old lane we arrived at ‘The Written Stone’ which I’ve mentioned several times in local blogs.

What I hadn’t noticed before was the typo error where the carver had misspelt stone and added a small o later.  We then spent the morning traversing the southern side of Longridge Fell on paths and tracks between ancient farmsteads crunching through the snow in bright sunshine. One of the first farms, 250year old Hoardsall, has the appearance of years gone by. This morning the farmer was busy splitting logs, his source of fuel, in an outhouse with his black and white cat watching on. We fell into conversation and gleaned a fascinating history of sheep farming in the area. His farm yard was cobbled with local sandstone setts which had been augmented in the past with granite setts removed from Brook Street in Preston. [I knew of an antique  business which purchased old setts, street architecture, pub paraphernalia and red phone boxes etc when Preston was being ‘modernised’] A fascinating encounter which makes me think that these insights should be recorded for posterity.

New Row Cottages in Knowle Green formerly belonged to cotton weavers and are now a peaceful haven away from the main road.

Ahead was a tree topped hillock of unkown origin. Eventually we joined the delightful bridleway alongside Dean Brook into Hurst Green. One of my favourite walks. We lunched on a wall by the Shireburn Almshouses which were first built on Longridge Fell in 1706 but moved and rebuilt in Hurst Green in 1946. The village is closely associated with nearby Stoneyhurst College whose grounds we walked through. Much has been written about this famous Jesuit establishment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonyhurst  All the while a snowy Pendle loomed in the background.

Leaving the grounds we dropped down to cross the River Hodder at the historic border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. You take your life in your hands to view the inscription on the bridge and the nearby ‘Cromwells Bridge’

We did not enjoy the forced road walking into Mitton and were glad to escape into a quieter land leading to the 12th century All Hallows Church. Next door was the stately 17th century Great Mitton Hall. Downhill on the busy road we crossed the River Ribble with more views of an arctic Pendle Hill. This is fantastic Lancashire countryside. Pleasant field paths led us to our debacle with the new housing estate. The best day so far on our SD38 journey.There were signs of spring all along the way.

*****

FURTHER UPDATE ON SHORT WALK OBSTRUCTIONS.

Last June I experienced problems  on one of my regular short walks from home, barbed wire across the path. I reported the obstruction to LCC highway department.  A month later the obstruction had been temporarily removed though no stile provided. Early this month I had an email from the council stating that the fence has been opened up and a gate erected. This morning there was substantial snow and I wasn’t inclined to take the car onto the roads so later in the day, as there was some brightening, I thought it a good idea to do a walk and check the above footpath situation at the same time.

Once off the road I was on virgin snow, nice and crunchy. Surprisingly the first stile which was in good condition had been replaced by a kissing gate. Walking on I could see that the obstructed fence now also had a brand new gate. Problem resolved.

On closer inspection the gate had not been fitted correctly and wouldn’t close so the orange bailing twine was being utilised. Shoddy and no doubt expensive workmanship.

Anyhow I could now proceed with the walk which I continued across fields to Gill Bridge and then quiet back lanes to pass through the grounds of Ferraris Country Hotel. The bad weather had resulted in fewer visitors than usual.https://cdn.ostrovok.ru/t/1024x768/second2/1430170966/852be815eb041e63f83871d98193f8b2.jpg

The sun was making a brief feeble appearance as I walked home past the cricket pitch.

*****

SD 38. INSKIP TO LONGRIDGE.

This is long distance walking in easy stages designed for winter exercise. Todays stage actually finishes in Longridge, my home town, which is convenient for me if not for Sir Hugh who has to travel from Arnside, but it was his idea in the first place. At least today we meet up in the agreed destination, a good start. We are walking by 9.30 on a clear sunny morning with a strong cold wind at our heals. There must have been a lot of rain last night judging by the pools on the road – an ominous sign. We take to footpaths as soon as we can and end up in deep mud similar to where we left off last week. The stiles around Singletons Farm are virtually impassable, blocked by hawthorn, but we push through.Crossing a field we are confronted by the next stile leading into a lake, no way we can go that way so we retreat and hit the minor lane to Cuddy Hill [sounds Scottish] and the well-known Plough Inn. After all the frustating obstacles I was ready for a drink but of course they hadn’t opened. Eventually we find the onward path and emerge onto a lane which took us over a canal. In the past we have both walked the The Black and White, Lancaster Canal.    but we didn’t recognise the location,

We were on the A6 for a short distance before crossing over onto tracks to end up in fields,  navigational errors had us back tracking to reach Jepps Lane. The A6 seemed like the transition from the flat floodplain of The Fylde to the pleasant countryside of the Ribble Valley. The wind by now had intensified and many of Sir Hugh’s pearls of wisdom were lost. I had never been down the lane to Barton Old Hall before but it conveniently crossed the motorway for us. The Old Hall was hidden behind trees and the cluster of houses and conversions at the hall were rather depressing.

I think we were deterred from the actual path through the properties but still found ourselves in rolling countryside alongside the proverbial babbling brooks. Time passed as we weaved our way through the pleasant Lancashire countryside. The Bowland Fells rose in the background and ahead was a glimpse of Longridge Fell.

 

We passed the stately Goosnargh Lodge, joined some local routes and reached Goosnargh Mill, not the best of conversions.

I was now on home ground and confidently marched across fields finding hidden stiles until we reached one that was in such a dangerous state we had to retreat yet again and find an alternative way. Worse was to come as what had been open fields was divided up by permanent electric fencing, the sort used for equine enclosures, with no regard for any public rights of way. Attempts at crawling under on the wet ground were not pleasant so we took to dismantling the top wires to step over, there was fortunately no electric current. Reports to LCC  are on their way. A rather sour note towards the end of the day.

He who dares – SAS training.

Just before Longridge we passed Sea View cottages,  and yes you could just about see back to the coast where we had started SD 38.The road into Longridge is now surrounded on all sides by new housing developments, the Fell can just be glimpsed above the roofs. It is no longer the attractive, honest, little town that I moved to all those years ago.

 

 

*****

A MISTY BEACON FELL.

Normally I can see Beacon Fell from my house – but not this morning. A freezing mist hung over the landscape. Not to be deterred I wanted to walk up there and back, in deference to the weather and my late start I took the car some part way. I know these footpaths well as I often do this walk or a variation, it is in fact the first section of my Longridge Skyline Walk.

The snow was disappearing from the fields as I set off. Soon I was walking through the first of several developments where an original farmhouse with its surrounding barns has morphed into an expensive looking ‘hamlet’. This one is based around Higher Barker.

Familiar field paths [I didn’t need a map today] lead to the Cross Keys Inn where holiday type units have been built around the site, none ready for occupation in what is a speculative development. The Cross Keys was a farm-cum-basic pub run by brothers and known affectionately and ironically by locals as The Dorchester. What of its future?

The lane ahead is always soggy and today was no exception. I could hear a woodpecker in the trees of Whitechapel.

The sun was trying to break through the mist as I crossed fields to Crombleholme Fold another group of houses old and new. The sheep were surprised to see me emerging from the gloom.

Still no view of Beacon Fell which I knew was looming up above me.  The trees were soon reached and as I entered them a small herd of Roe Deer passed in front of me seconds after taking this picture.

The car park at the visitor centre was virtually empty and I was the only one in the cafe where I enjoyed a good coffee. To reach the summit I followed the latest version of the walking snake, this one is expertly crafted from stone so should be more durable than the previous wooden sculpture.

I had the summit to myself with tantalising glimpses of Parlick and Fairsnape Fells through the mists.

A newish path, there are many since the storms of last year, and a concessionary bridleway through deciduos plantings took me out of the park.

A field footpath led me down to the fishing lake/holiday homes of Woodfold, another development which seems to be enlarging every time I pass this way. Do these places go under the planning radar?

My next aim was Barnsfold Farm environs where more sympathetic conversions were carried out decades ago.

Then it was muddy fields to Bullsnape Hall and back to my car just as the sun finally burst through. The final stile was a challenge.

An enjoyable day from nothing.

*****