Category Archives: Lancashire.

BOWLAND AT ITS BEST.

Looking up past Dunsop Bridge into the heart of Bowland.

14th June 2018. UK weather: Storm Hector batters Britain with winds of up to 100mph.

The above headlines in today’s papers were not encouraging but delving a little deeper and being three brave fellows we arranged a walk. We being ‘the rock man’, JD and myself. The idea was to stay low and leave late morning to avoid the worst of the storm. Leaving late was easily accomplished as the rock man was late anyhow. We parked up near Leagram Estate above Chipping avoiding any overhanging suspect trees. There was no sign of the wind abating.

Entering a windy Leagram Park.

Country lanes were used to weave through the fields bordering the fells. More and more barns have been converted into desirable residences and expensive 4×4’s kept pushing us into the hedgerows. The public road to the remote Burnslack was reached and followed before cutting off on the rougher track across the base of the fells. This is open country and felt wild today with the wind. Lickhurst was the next farm complex with new developments. The tenant, who was one of the last remaining true farmers, apparently has recently died. I had a long conversation with him when I last passed when he was telling me of his plans for retirement, sad news.

Lickhurst Farm.

Moving on we crossed the footbridge and headed up onto limestone pastures. These looked very dry as we’ve had virtually no rain for six weeks. The track down to Dinkling Green was found. JD and I had recollections of vicious dogs chained up here which would suddenly jump out as you passed through the farmyard. None today as the farmsteads have been gentrified. A nice stretch alongside a brook and we arrived at Higher Fence Wood, the farm with all those wooden hen houses.The rooster cockerel was proudly parading in front of his hareem. Free range eggs were advertised for £1.50 a dozen but unfortunately the cupboard was bare.

We were now in limestone country and relying on the rockman’s expert knowledge. There were limestone outcrops and signs of quarrying everywhere. We lunched under a limestone rockface of a long abandoned quarry. There were signs of chalk on the rock from modern-day boulderers.

Our lunch spot.

By now the sun was getting a little stronger but the wind was still bitterly cold. Tracks took us to New Laund Farm above the Inn at Whitewell which can be reached across the Hodder on stepping stones. Today however we stayed high and went into secretive mode for a little trespassing into the woods to locate Fairy Holes Caves. Once found we explored using our phone torches which proved far better than the old flashlight. I saw crinoid fossils which I had missed on previous occasions. The location is recognised as a Bronze Age burial site, probably dating to around 1800 BC.

The Inn at Whitewell.

Forbidden land.

 

We scrambled out onto the public right of way to Fair Oak , this gives some of the best views down into the Hodder Valley in both directions as it crosses a small col. See title picture for view NE. and below for River Hodder and SE to Longridge Fell.

‘Scrambling out’

From here on we wandered past old farmsteads all in a state of modern repair, Delightful residences but all so remote from anywhere. The old bridleway down from Greystoneley was followed over the ford.

Towards the end of the walk I wanted to explore a footpath I’d never used and it turned out perfect. From an old limekiln and quarry we went cross-country, unfortunately missing a crucial footbridge, back into the Leagram Estate. Delightful walking under the Fairsnape Fells with views across to Longridge Fell. The wind was still blowing strong when we reached the car but had detracted little from a grand day out.

My ‘new path’

Fairsnape Fells.

Longridge Fell.

*****

THE BRONTE WAY two.

Thursden valley to Stanbury.

We were back in the beautiful Thursden valley after a bit of car manoeuvering. The day didn’t get off to a good start on an overgrown path, which had been superseded we realised later,  involving some scrambling and barbed wire leading to torn shorts. Calm was restored on the open moor. A strange stone arch ‘The Doorway to Pendle’, the former New House farmhouse built in 1672 and occupied until the 1920s when the land was bought by Nelson Waterworks. It consists of a sandstone archway with a triangular head. An inscription relates to the Parker family in the 17th century. There must have been many similar isolated houses scattered on the moors.

A good track, popular with cyclists, was followed all along the northern flanks of Boulsworth Hill; an old way, flagged in parts, connecting scattered farmsteads. Lapwing, skylark and curlew country. At the far end the path is being ‘improved’ with alien chippings which at the present time are an eyesore. Escaping from this we found a delightful concessionary path sloping down the wooded hillside. Above were a series of boulders that looked climbable but I can find no reference to them, I’m kicking myself for not taking the short walk up to them. 

Eventually we crossed the stream that flows into Wycoller where begin a series of interesting and often photographed bridges. In historical order a ford, a clapper bridge, a supported clapper and a two arched packhorse bridge.

We rested and ate lunch in the shade of the ruins of Wycoller Hall, probably Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre, In a previous visit, whilst walking the Pendle Way, I bivied in the massive fireplace without realising it was haunted.

A gentle stroll back out of Wycoller was made for chatting. A farmer out checking his sheep and lambs on his quad  bike bemoaned  that he would probably be dragged out by his wife this afternoon to a local event when he would rather be putting his feet up. We saw him later driving to Haworth. We walked below another group of rocks where Foster had done some daredevil leaping. Open moorland was once more gained and appeared to go on forever, Pendle Hill disappeared for the last time in the west. We congratulated ourselves for being here on a perfect summer’s day – it can be grim up north. Somewhere we crossed over from Lancashire into Yorkshire, God’s own country if you are so inclined.

After Watersheddles Reservoir the valley of the infant River Worth was entered, almost a lost valley despite its close proximity to the road. A rough track alongside the lively stream, gritstone boulders, rhododendrons and bird song, my first Cuckoo of the year, a lovely spot for a refreshment break. It turned out we needed it as the way on became more laborious climbing in and out of valleys towards Ponden Reservoir. Passing Ponden Hall [Thrushcross Grange in Emily’s Wuthering Heights] I recollected coming this way in 1968 on an early Pennine Way journey and I’m sure they served teas then. Not today! Lets not forget that The Pennine Way was the brainchild of Tom Stephenson, Wainwright’s guide, which we didn’t have at the time was a later publication. A few more switchbacks shared with the PW brought us to the end of quite a tough day in the heat. The car was parked down the little lane leading to Stanbury.

 

*****

 

 

 

THE BRONTE WAY one.

Gawthorpe Hall to Thursden.

Sir Hugh and I started at Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham. Many of the places we walk through have some connection to the Brontes or their novels. Gawthorpe Hall was the family home of the Shuttleworth family which Charlotte Bronte visited frequently as a friend of John Kay-Shuttleworth.

And a very stately hall it looked, but was closed today. We walk out of the grounds through a grove of chestnut trees. We were into farmland where we immediately got into the wrong field, no waymarks, and receive some advice from the farmer’s wife. Soon we drop down to a bridge over the River Calder where I’d been before on the Burnley Way. The river was a placid stream today but there was evidence of harsher days. Pleasant rural walking took us along and over a motorway and onto a canal. There was a large marina with people pottering about but little traffic on the water.

“That’s what a fish looks like”

We crept round Burnley and joined the River Brun into a park where we stopped for lunch. Despite us sitting on a park bench Sir Hugh felt obliged to demonstrate, not very convincingly, his new pocket folding chair. Lots of Asian families were walking past and in conversation we realised that Ramadan meant fasting from 4am till 9pm at this time of year, that can’t  be good for children.

Further along the river the local fire brigade were enjoying the weather on a splashing about exercise. Into fields and along a stream our instincts to follow the trodden path were ignored and we ended up lost near the ruined and abandoned Tudor Extwistle Hall [no connection to the Brontes]. Some time later after difficult barbed wire negotiations we were back on route near a small reservoir. Crossing a road we picked up a good lane to Swinden Reservoir where two farmers were trying to burn  accumulated years of rubbish.

We crossed a moor in lovely evening sunlight and dropped down through trees into the delightful Thursden Valley, the river was low due to lack of rain but still gave us a sparkling accompaniment to the road where a car was waiting.

A very pleasant introduction to The Bronte Way which probably doesn’t get a lot of traffic and has been poorly waymarked today.

*****

ANOTHER SHORT WALK – LONGRIDGE FELL.

Looking to Bleasdale Fells.

The last time I came up here the ground was the boggiest that I could remember, tonight after what seems like weeks of good weather it was completely different. In fact it is as dry as I  can recall. The walk turned out to be short not like the last one because of an obstructed stile, but from too much summit chatting. The distant Bowland and Yorkshire views were a little hazy. There was very little bird life, a couple of skylarks and a cuckoo in the woods. The bracken was rapidly beginning to thrust up its green shoots. The heather has some way to go. Chipping Vale below looked very fertile with many fields being cut neatly for silage.

My first encounter was with a mountain biker at the summit cairn, conversation started politely but we soon moved on to many shared cycling experiences and adventures. He had a huge knowledge of past bikes but I trumped him with my previous ownership of a 1940’s Baines ‘Flying Gate’ cycle in my teens. An hour must have passed before he shot off down the track just as a local couple arrived at the trig puffing and panting. They are trying to improve on their time from the carpark as well as finding those little painted stones that are appearing everywhere. Talk now turned to the Bowland Fells and tracks so by the time I left there was no time really to complete my intended circuit. I just turned round and trotted back the way I’d come. Actually there was some degree of urgency introduced when I realised I’d left my wallet in full view on the passenger seat. The car and wallet were of course intact when I arrived back.

I should do this walk or its longer variant more often in the summer evenings and there’s no knowing whom I’ll meet and what information will be gleaned.

*****

A SHORT WALK OUT OF LONGRIDGE.

I set off in the cool of the morning to walk a circuit of fields and lanes which is on my list of regular local outings. I was looking forward to a 5 mile walk with an emphasis on photographing the current flora. A footpath sign points off the road down a green track which opens into fields. A plainly waymarked stile crosses into the next field and I happily wandered on to where it goes through a hedge by a pond. Today however I could go no further as a new fence topped with barbed wire blocked the way and it was insurmountable, even for me.  I checked either side to see if the stile had been moved but no there was no access on this Public Right of Way. I had no option but to turn around and head home in not the best of moods.How can a landowner just completely ignore a well used Public Right of Way? There should be much harsher penalties for this brazen obstruction. I will not let them get away with it.

Lancashire County Council have an excellent on-line reporting service for problems with Right of Ways, you identify the position in question on a map and click. You are then given chance to describe the problem and hey-presto it is reported with an identifying number. Of course that is only the start and one has to hope the council take the matter up with the landowners.

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/fault-reporting?coords=,&type=default

I wonder if the obstruction miraculously disappears in the next day or two?

*****

A SOUTHERN CIRCUIT ON LONGRIDGE FELL.


I’ve been up Longridge Fell three times this week, all from different directions. This lack of originality is partially based on my reluctance to drive far, partly on the weather [torrential rain on alternate days put boggy Fairsnape out of the question] and mainly on my slow re-acquaintance with hilly country. Anyhow it is a great little fell, the most southerly named fell in the UK with the easy to remember 350m height.

Today, Thursday 5th April, was fantastic, you couldn’t have wished for a better Spring like day. Blue skies, no wind and warmish sun [that’s that round yellow thing in the sky]. Of course the paths were still muddy and slippy but that’s par for the course at this time of year in Lancashire. A few groups were out on longer rambles and the dog strollers were making the best of the day.

I parked at Higher Hodder Bridge and  tackled the steep Birdy Brow road head on, One gains height quickly and just past Kemple End the forest track leaves the road zigzagging into the trees. I was already sweating as the morning warmed up. The forest track on a day like this reminded me of walking through Southern Spain on the GR 7 where there is much forest. I was going to say ‘wish I was there now’ but on a day like this you can’t  beat Lancashire. A hidden little path through the trees brings one out at a lovely open viewpoint with the Bowland Fells full on, the frosty Yorkshire peaks off to the East and Chipping Vale at your feet,

Higher on the fell I came across forest workers hand planting thousands of spruce saplings in rough ground that had been felled a couple of years ago. These are disease resistant ones and I will watch their growth over coming years.

Knowing that the track was blocked ahead with fallen trees I again took to smaller paths through the trees some of which are old Scots Pines, an enchanting place. I’ve been known to bivy in this secret place with the bonus of deer wandering past in the night. Further on is the ‘wall path’ leading towards the summit.  Years ago this path was hardly visible but has become more used and hence more boggy, most of the wall that ran alongside it has been now used as infill for the path.

Once out in the open the white trig point was clearly seen ahead with more stunning views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. If I had kept walking down the ridge I would have been home in an hour but I had a circuit to complete so headed south on forest roads, with Pendle Hill dominant ahead above the Ribble Valley, to come out at the road above Crowshaw Quarry where I had a bite to eat in the sunshine.

The bridle way down past Green Gore to Hurst Green is very familiar but I realised I nearly always walk it in the opposite direction. One of my favourite places is Dean Brook as it descends off the fell and through old mill placements at Hurst Green. The bridge there is a great launching pad for poo sticks.

I came out at the Almshouses which somehow were brought down from Kemple End. The Bayley Arms pub seems to be closed so I carried straight across on Smithy Lane through muddy fields and into the grounds of Stoneyhurst College.

I took the private road to Hodder Court where I picked up the popular footpath alongside the Hodder river. This is a roller coaster of a path in the trees above the river as I headed back to  Higher Hodder Bridge. A delight with the fast flowing Hodder below, emerging Wild Garlic under my feet and expectant bird song in the air.

That was 5 hours of my life well spent.

*****

 

What is happening up on Longridge Fell?

Another of my ‘whats happening?’ posts.

The day had not started well,  I’d set my alarm early, for me, so I’d get to my eagerly awaited dental appointment at 9am. I awoke feeling strange. Putting my hand out to the radio nothing happened. Pressing the light switch nothing happened. Checking my mobile twice or even thrice the time said 9.30.  9.30 where was I?  It dawned on me in the middle of an electricity cut. Not even my land line worked.  Reconnected later in the morning apologies to the dentist were due. I didn’t come round till lunchtime. By then my phone was ringing, the sun was shining and I’d arranged a walk up Longridge Fell.

Mike was recovering from a hip operation and I was keen to try my legs on rougher terrain. Mid afternoon we were parked up on the rough ground above Crowshaw Quarry.  I won’t bore you with our usual route on the forest tracks to the trig point and back.

A few things were different today…

Access onto the open fell from the forest was always by a through stile in the wall just below the trig point. Somebody, presumably, Lancashire County Council, has become disheartened by damage to the said wall and installed a metal kissing gate. Not really in keeping with a fell top but maybe more enduring.

It was wet on the way to the trig point. But we were soon at the top and greeted by a young Patterdale Terrier full of energy and inquisitiveness.

A little further on was the wooden gate which has breached the wall for years but suddenly seems to have been chewed to bits. The type of chewing seen round horse enclosures. No horses up here so we wondered deer, wild boar, beavers, yeti…  We walked on keeping a close eye behind us on the woods.

Arriving, without being chewed or worse, onto the forest road below we couldn’t believe the amount of damage from the storm a month ago. Our onward route at one point was completely obstructed by fallen trees.  I’d seen the same on Beacon Fell  a couple of weeks ago but for some reason hadn’t expected it here. Some of the trees were leaning ominously across the track but most had been completely uprooted or snapped. It will take some time with a chain saw to clear things. A way round was found.

A little further on and what is happening here …

 

We had walked through sun, rain and sleet, the road and car reached.

Nothing stays the same.

Some deep unconscious spark made me think of…

 

*****