Category Archives: Lancashire.

YOU FAT BASTARD.

                                                                         Sweden Quarry.

We, us old farts, used to climb with a fit young lad who shall remain nameless. Regular evening visits to Lancashire quarries in the summer months provided good sport. He was pushing his grade, as a young man should, but often was lowered to the ground defeated by a high crux move which one of us old timers could easily demonstrate to him. Chastened he would apply himself to the next problem with often the same result.

It was only in the pub afterwards that an analysis of the evenings climbing took place. Typically, we focused on his failings and inevitably came to the conclusion he was carrying too much weight. This lead to, and I apologise as from now, describing him as a ‘fat bastard’. We did have his interests at heart as this insulting banter resulted in him disappearing, dieting and training to re-emerge the next week to climb as good if not better than us.

Someday I will write about climbing trips with this youth in question to places far from Lancashire and the resulting adventures. I will of course need his permission first.

Anyhow, today the boot, or climbing shoe, is on the other foot. I used to climb in a quarry high on Longridge Fell hidden in the conifer plantations – I called it Sweden for no other reason than the trees. Only I and a few others knew about it, and slowly it became overgrown as these places do. But it was there at the back of my mind and when social distancing became the norm, and I was wary of climbing in crowded Craig Y Longridge …

A crowded Craig y Longridge.

… I revisited Sweden.

Basically it is a large hole in the ground. The walls tend to be damp and uninviting but on an upper level there is a clean wall getting the sun all day. A few days getting rid of the vegetation that had encroached in the intervening years, and I was ready to try the problems that I had recorded 25 years ago. Armed with my tatty guide from then I began to repeat the problems. They were much harder than I remember and also apparently much higher despite the use of a modern day crash mat.

So it is back to square one – you fat bastard.

ABUNDANT POSITIVITY.

Wednesday 7th April.   4 miles.   Longridge Fell.

Last week, or was it last month? I’m beginning to lose track, I wrote of the litter left on Longridge Fell. https://bowlandclimber.com/2021/03/31/lets-stay-positive/ 

I went back the next night and collected a bag full of litter; cans, bottles, crisp packets, coffee cups and of course dog poo bags. A satisfying outing.

Today I thought it was time to repeat the exercise following the influx of Easter visitors. I parked at the usual spot on Jeffrey Hill and set off on my regular walk up to the trig point on Longridge Fell and was pleased to see there was very little litter – have I a competitor picker? I still managed to fill a carrier bag with mainly dog poo bags.

The highlight of the walk however was the number of couples I passed who thanked me for the effort and how they should do the same. I thus had several conversations of a varied nature.

A Bangladeshi family were not so much interested in the litter picking but were keen to seek directions for the best paths, this was the first visit for them. They seemed adventurous so I sent them on a circular walk through the trees which they seemed to have enjoyed when I bumped into them later in the afternoon. We recalled days in Blackburn where I used to visit for Asian groceries and little backstreet cafés serving Dahl and chappatis to immigrant workers, my grounding in authentic curries.

A couple from down the road thought we should all get together on Facebook and have organised clean-ups, I ignored that idea but we discussed all things Longridge.

A couple from Blackpool were walking several little dogs, all sensibly on the lead. It turned out they owned a hotel in Blackpool and obviously had done virtually no business in the last year. They were not hopeful for a quick return to business this summer, opening to less than full capacity with all the costly restrictions, having to take staff back on etc and then to find themselves closed again within weeks. That must be a recurring dilemma for the catering and hospitality sector.

I mention that they had their dogs under control as a little further on were two young women with dogs running wild over the fell side. I politely mentioned that all dogs should be on a short lead at this time of year as is clearly signed at all access points. “Nobody told us that” was their response – I suggested they read the notices at the gate where they had come from on their return. They did however put the dogs on leads, at least while I was in view.

As I neared the finish of my round whilst my hands were freezing, did I mention the sleet flurries we had from time to time? I met a hardy soul who had walked up from Longridge, he does it most days. As is usual when we meet we discuss the wildlife that is around, he doesn’t miss a thing. His hope is that when the lockdown eases the hordes that have been parked up on Longridge Fell will disperse and leave us in peace.

I’m not so sure. That’s not very positive is it.

*****

 

FARTHER AND FURTHER AROUND LONGRIDGE WALK.

Monday 5th April.   7 miles.      Longridge.

I wrote about the ‘The Round Longridge Walk’ back in February…

THE ROUND LONGRIDGE WALK.

Today I went out to try and improve the route by avoiding too many main roads and keeping outside the circle of ever-increasing hosing developments. I also had a new camera which I wanted to play with, it has far too many features for me to come to terms with quickly.

What a beautiful Easter Monday, blue skies, lots of sunshine and a cold wind. Perfect. Well not quite – they have taken out all the hedges on a new development. Our slate artist has summed it up nicely on a Hedge Sparrow triptych. [Richard Price – see transcript at end of post.]

 I linked up with the route on Pinfold Lane where several parties were scanning the wetlands with binoculars.

I had a brief look, there is a digger in the background, and carried on my way down towards Bury’s Farm. A farmer was rolling his field – a picture from the past.

I found a better, more rural, route around Alston and on across the main road. I found my way through peoples drives and gardens back into fields before picking up the old rail Preston – Longridge line and onto home ground. The blackthorn and cherries were blossoming.

It has been a walk of contrasts – trying to balance the rural with the creeping urbanisation. It’s time for the hills.

*****

 *****

You don’t see many hedges these days, and the hedges you do see they’re not that thorny, it’s a shame, and when I say a hedge I’m not talking about a row of twigs between two lines of rusty barbed wire, or more likely just a big prairie where there were whole cities of hedges not fifty years ago, a big desert more like, and I mean thick hedges, with trees nearby for a bit of shade and a field not a road not too far off so you can nip out for an insect or two when you or the youngsters feel like a snack, a whole hedgerow system, as it says in the book, and seven out of ten sparrows say the same, and that’s an underestimate, we want a place you can feel safe in again, we’re social animals, we want our social life back, and the sooner the better, because in a good hedge you can always talk things over, make decisions, have a laugh if you want to, sing, even with a voice like mine!


LET’S STAY POSITIVE.

Tuesday 30th March. 5 miles. Longridge Fell.

Lockdown eased yesterday but from the pictures of rubbish in the Lake District perhaps for some a few days earlier, I am concerned about our ability to come out of lockdown safely and it is not helped by what I see today.

The hottest day of the year so far as I walk up to the trig point on Longridge Fell. Within yards of the car park I come across litter in the form of bottles and cans, masks and yes, dog poo bags all recently discarded.

It was only last year that barbecues set light to this area, we were lucky the fire brigade dealt with it so quickly and efficiently. When will it happen again?

I became irritated and even more so when I see a lady with four dogs running loose, dogs must be on a leash from March 1st because of ground nesting birds. Calling her she answers that she has badly strained her ankle and is trying to hobble back to the car park. I wonder if she ever had the dogs on lead in the first place, but give her the benefit of the doubt and wish her well getting back.

The top of the fell is reached without further problems apart from deep mud. A charming Japanese man with his daughter and friend are admiring the views, he remarks on the tranquilly of the scene. I have to agree and also enquire how he kept his trainers so clean walking up through the peat bogs.

Onwards into the woods and out onto the path past the grandiose gate to the kennels.

There were two heads bobbing up and down along with the frogs in the small reservoir lower down, the two ladies have swum all winter, today is the first without wetsuits.

As I was walking back up through the plantation I watched a barn owl quartering the open areas, they seem to be a common sight this year.

On the way home I called into a local shop to buy myself a ‘litter picker gadget’ so tomorrow if I venture up the fell, I usually do, I can positively improve the environment. I will pack the litter into a plastic bag and then on the way home I can chuck it over a fence like this lot…

*****

THE TOLKIEN TRAIL AGAIN.

Saturday  27th March.     6.75 miles.      Hurst Green.

I expected Hurst Green to be full of cars this morning, but we were able to park up outside the Bailey Arms with no trouble. I think we stole a march on most people by being away early. A new signpost has been erected near the Shireburn Inn to get you on the right track. Dropping to join the River Ribble seemed muddier than normal, a lot of people have come this way in the last few months. To start with we had the riverside path to ourselves with wide-ranging views. Only as we approached Winkley Farm did a steady stream of people start appearing from the opposite direction. Fishermen were wading in the Ribble just upstream from where it joins the Hodder. A new path, not particularly aesthetic, gives a dry way across a particularly muddy field. A lot of people were milling about at Cromwell’s Bridge and on the path alongside the Hodder, we couldn’t work out how some of these groups were constituted with no social distancing in evidence – I suspect people are coming out of lockdown of their own volition. Up at Hodder Court Gandalf is staring out over the Ribble Valley, although his hat seems ready to fall off. We walked on through the grounds of Stonyhurst College to a now busy Hurst Green. I dread to think what this walk will be like after April 12th when people can travel further.

Here are a few photos…

A deserted Bailey Arms, I wonder whether it will survive.

We were glad of our poles in the mud.

Aqueduct over the Ribble taking water to Blackburn.

Distant Pendle.

Hodder and Ribble meet – spot the fisherman.

That Winkley Oak.

The new ‘bypass’

Trail walkers with Stonyhurst in the background.

Cromwell’s Bridge.

A wooden Gandalf.

*****

For more comprehensive views of this walk please have a look at

THE TOLKIEN TRAIL.

TO CATCH A SALMON.

ANNIVERSARY BIRTHDAY PICNIC.

Tuesday,  March 23rd.     9 miles.    Longridge.

My birthday happens to coincide with the date Lockdown commenced last year. There seemed quite a fuss about this [not my birthday], whilst I have every sympathy with the thousands of families affected by Covid deaths and they should not be forgotten, I am not one for lighting candles or creating memorial days for an event we have not dealt with very satisfactorily. I would almost go so far as to say they are devious attempts by the government to distract our attention from the failings and flag wave for our vaccine successes. Dangerous tactics.

Back to today’s walk, which I have completed many times recently, to make an occasion of it I took a picnic with me to enjoy higher up. Last year I visited the limestone quarry  opposite Arbour Farm occasionally for its wildlife so as I pass today I have a look in. There are a couple of roe deer scampering away and a hare following. It’s too soon for any significant flowers but there a few mallards on the water and pheasants taking cover. In the past this area has been used as a shoot and the birds fed in the season. All around are spent shotgun cartridges. I take particular note as I’ve just been reading a DEFRA report of the latest attempts to ban lead ammunition.   Lead ammunition could be phased out under government plans to help protect wildlife and nature, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced today (23 March).  There has been a wealth of evidence that lead is damaging to humans, wildlife and the environment and yet a large amount of lead ammunition is discharged every year. Apart from the yearly slaughter of birds there is research showing wild fowl ingest lead pellets, mistaken for food, causing considerable deaths from poisoning.   The Government have been slow to do anything about it and a voluntary transition by the shooting industry has not worked. A recent review showed the majority of game birds sold to the public had been killed using lead shot. So all change then – well not quite – the Government is proposing a two-year review of the evidence and then public consideration. A typical fudge when the hunting and shooting brigade are involved. Why don’t we just get on and ban it now.  [In Denmark, hunters have had to use alternatives since 1996, when lead shot was banned]

Spring display.

Arbour Quarry.

Moving on I made my way up onto the fell and found a sheltered spot for my simple Birthday picnic in a little quarry nearby.  I have recently started climbing in here again after many years, there is a small wall suitable for bouldering away from the Covid crowds that are making themselves unwelcome at the usual bouldering spot, Craig Y Longridge. It is up here that I have been regularly seeing Barn Owls flying around at dusk. Today a kestrel was hovering not far from me and a pair of Buzzards were wheeling high in the sky. Nice place for a picnic in the sun.

I wander home down the switchback lane. I had various texts etc appear on my phone from absent friends and family and in my porch a box of beer and a single malt. Not such a bad birthday after all.

*****

THE BEST OF LAST WEEK.

Tuesday. 16th March.    6miles.    Chipping.

We drive the 4 miles to Chipping and meet up in the village hall car park. I had promised Mike it would be sunny for him to have a morning away from the builders working on his garage. He is pitching the roof, adding solar panels, electric charge point and enlarging his drive with stone sets etc. etc. I think it is a larger job than he had first envisaged, though he should know. Anyhow there was no sign of the sun, in fact it was grey and cold when we set off at 9.30.

This is a walk we have done many times, but it makes use of, on the whole, well surfaced farm tracks in the foothills of the Bowland Hills. The snowdrops in the grounds of Leagram Hall had finished flowering which was a shame though there were primroses on the lane banks. From Laund sheep farm we cut across to renovated Park Gate where the only field of the day linked up with tracks at the empty Park Style. This whole area is rough upland and the Lapwings and Curlews were in good evidence today. They get a chance to breed up here as the fields don’t get cut until later in the year, if ever. A pair of Buzzards are soaring high above. Down one of the tracks we see a stoat in its white winter coat running ahead of us, quite exciting. At Lickhurst  we meet up with the bridleway coming from Saddle Side, not taken today because it is very boggy in parts. There were notices on the gate warning people not to take vehicles along it. This is the first time I’ve seen this but apparently during lockdown 4X4s have been coming out in the night on these lanes. Of course most of them have been registered in Manchester/Liverpool, often with no tax or insurance. There  are a group of people who think they can do what they like and escape notice during lockdown.  The track has been severely damaged by these morons.

We walk on down the road and over three bridges which have replaced fords in the time I’ve lived in the area,  Lickhurst could be impossible to reach after heavy winter rain in the past. I show Mike the long single span clapper bridge, 6 metres of solid grit stone, and we wonder how they handled it here. It must have been brought here from some distance as all is limestone in the vicinity. Upstream is a fish ladder I’ve not noticed before.

We walk on past that isolated iconic red phone box…

We have friends living in the next group of houses and we have a chat and an illicit coffee over the garden wall. Sheila has a heavenly glow in the photo. The bridleway leading onwards crosses the beck encountered  before at a ford, fortunately there is a footbridge just up stream, [Greystoneley Brook which soon joins the Hodder at Stakes Farm near the stepping stones] This whole area has had its trees harvested last year and looks very bare, but thousands of new trees have been planted so it will be interesting to see how it matures.

The lane passes close to a large almost intact lime kiln in an extensive quarry, another detour. At the end of the lane we meet a chatty horse rider.

On the road back Mike met a retired school teacher who was responsible for getting his children off to a good start. More catching up chat ensues. With all the ‘delays’ we don’t get back to the car till nearly 2pm by which time the sun has come out.

*****

*****

Whilst mentioning the birds we saw today I should also like to report that most evenings while I’ve been bouldering up on the fell a pair of barn owls have been quartering the open areas, a majestic sight as they fly past close by without a sound. The days are getting noticeably longer and there have been some beautiful sunsets to coincide with the Spring equinox.

 

 

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CLIMB LONGRIDGE FELL.

Tuesday 9th March.     11miles.    Longridge Fell.

My last walk, at the weekend with Mike, was through the fields and lanes of Chipping Vale with a little nibble at the west end of Longridge Fell. All very repetitive, so much so I didn’t take a single  photo but the conversation must have been good. A couple of days have been spent festering, you know how it is. Today started slowly until I made the effort to get going and put some mileage under my belt. Starting from home the obvious way to increase my mileage was to continue along the road to the north of Longridge Fell before striking to the top. I noticed a few more roadside signs on the way.

Leaving Longridge.

Lee House Church.

Exquisite carved trough.

?origin.

C17th Thornley Hall.

Entering Chaigley. Note the rake as a notch in the fell side woods.

I did consider going all the way to Higher Hodder Bridge but as I hadn’t set out till 1pm I thought it a little ambitious. [another time] I left the road at Rakefoot Farm and climbed the steep rake from there up onto the fell east of the summit. Once on the ridge I threaded my familiar way through the trees and into the open at the trig point. There was nobody else about. From up here one gets a bird’s eye view of the Thornley road below which I’d walked earlier.

It is all downhill from Jeffrey Hill to Longridge, a good way to end the afternoon.

*****

JEFFREY HILL.

Wednesday.  3rd March.     8.5 miles.    Longridge.

The last couple of days I’ve been out bouldering in all that lovely sunshine.  My arms and shoulders are now rebelling. I felt like a longer walk so planned this one on roads for today. It was grey and cold this morning, so I managed to faff around until after a light lunch, brisk walking was then the order of the day. The road through Thornley doesn’t always have a pavement so dodging from side to side on the corners is necessary. I passed Lord’s Lane and Birks Brow, two regular ways up onto the fell and continued on past Thornley Hall to climb the steep lane up Jeffrey Hill, this part of Longridge Fell. [see inserted map and elevation graph]

Even today there were plenty of cars in the car park by Cardwell House, but they would not have any views as the Bowland Hills were in cloud.

Cutting through Cowley Brook plantation, my latest discovery, avoided a little of the road to the Newdrop. I was then on the switchback road heading down to Longridge. It wasn’t a day for taking pictures or for meeting people so I was soon back home but glad of the exercise.

I wonder if they have published the minutes yet.

The steep bit.

Misty parking at Jeffrey Hill.

Cowley Brook Plantation.

*****

A GRIMSARGH WHITTINGHAM CIRCLE.

Sunday.  28th February.    6 miles.   Whittingham.

Spring has arrived for a simple circuit making the most of the unspectacular Whittingham countryside. A route through fields was planned checking out some stiles that Mike had had difficulty with recently.

We started in Cow Hill again. It was busy with cyclists and family groups walking around the block, all looked over by the ginger cat. At the bottom where Savick Brook was crossed,  with three buzzards wheeling overhead, we took the Bridleway up the hill behind the strangely quiet kennels. We knew about the fierce hound that stalks the yard of Seed Hill Farm. The way has been diverted around barns to avoid the farmyard and dog. From here a lane leads up to and crosses Haighton Green Lane into soggy fields that we followed towards Whittingham. There were no waymarks so prior knowledge was of great help. A wooden footbridge has been washed away but fortunately there is a brick farm bridge close by. The path goes through the farmyard of Whittingham Hall Farm which was previously part of Whittingham Psychiatric Hospital where inmates would have work. In a barn today there was a remote robotic cleaner going round the cows, I’ve never seen one of those before.

Lost bridge.

Robotic yard brush.

At one time there were over 2500 patients with its own railway, telephone exchange, church, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band and ballroom. It has been closed since 1995, many buildings have been demolished and planned housing developments have stuttered. We walked around the back of some new houses and the church which is boarded up onto the main road. The footpath sign shown in the header photo dates from the old hospital days.

Fortunately there is a footway on the road to Withy Trees where we took to the fields once more. This took us through an Alpaca Farm, but today there  were only sheep and three donkeys. Across the way Harrison’s Farm is a metal recycling plant and the footpath is diverted around it.  It was near here that one of the broken stiles was encountered and was very awkward to cross – or are we getting old. Duly reported to the Local Authority – not our age but the state of the stile. It will be interesting to see if anything is done about it, a lot of organisations are hiding behind Covid rules. Normally Lancashire is very good at footpath repairs. In the fields here is the clear course of the railway which served Whittingham Hospital.

Railway embankment.

Railway trackbed.

Better tracks through Dixon’s  brought us onto Grimsargh Green and back to Cow Hill.

                                               The Cow Hill Cat.

*****

The walk seemed longer than the measured 6 miles, Mike uses ‘Strava’ but he usually forgets to switch it on and off  leaving some of our walks without a beginning or end.

 

BROCKHOLES NATURE RESERVE – MY WAY.

Friday.  26th February.   4 miles.    Brockholes.

As I lay in the mud at the bottom of the bank, mopping the blood dripping down my forehead and checking my limbs for breakages, my thoughts drifted to casualty departments in the middle of the Covid crisis. Earlier in the day I’d been chatting to friends who were telling me that senior staff at Preston Hospital have stopped cycling whilst casualty is under pressure, they don’t want any broken bones. For the last week I’ve been looking up at Fairsnape Fell wondering about an ascent and then imagining a helicopter rescue and all the recriminations, so I’ve kept to the lanes for relative safety. Yet here I was lucky to get away with grazing and a blow to my ego. The brambles that had ensnared me were still wrapped around my legs. Being covered from head to foot in mud I drew surprised glances as I shuffled back to my car.

The rest of the gentle stroll in the sunshine had gone well. Brockholes is a nature reserve based on flooded gravel pits easily seen from the M6 coming south at J31. The Preston Guild Wheel cycling route goes through the middle of it so I’ve visited it many times but not in any depth. The only time I’ve called at the café/visitor centre was many years ago with Mel on one of his visits up north. My plan for today was to walk around the boundary of the reserve.

I had parked up near the crematorium in Grimsargh after one of those guilt laden 4 mile drives ‘staying local’.  The guild wheel route soon brought me down that steep bank into the reserve, here I turned left to reach the River Ribble thus avoiding the busy central areas. A good track followed the river all the way to the motorway bridge. Apart from the friends I unexpectedly met there were a couple of fishermen and only the occasional birdwatcher – you can tell them by the size of their telescopes. I wonder if there is some unwritten competition for the largest. I saw two Egrets by the river.

At the motorway I transferred to the gravel track bordering the west side of the lakes and was surprised as to how quickly I became almost immune to the traffic noise. There was one hide along here from where I saw ducks, grebes and swans – must get one of those big scopes, my equipment isn’t big enough. It was shortly afterwards I dived into the mud.

Just before going back up the steep hill I took a few minutes sat on a log, partly to clean my wounds and partly to watch the wild life feeding on crumbs left by a previous passer-by. Tits, a nuthatch and grey squirrels were my final tally for the day.

Think I’ll stay in the garden tomorrow.

Red Scar Woods high above the Ribble.

*****

 

 

ALL I NEED IS A DOG…

Monday. February 22nd.            Cowley Brook Woodland.

In a post last week I mentioned I’d wandered into Cowley Brook plantation coming off Longridge Fell. I didn’t mention that I had met a friend walking her dog there. She comes regularly to exercise the dog in an enclosed space with no sheep. Apparently others do the same, hence the reason I’d often seen cars parked here. Today I came back, on her recommendation, to explore the area in more detail, that’s the sort of thing I do in lockdown. The land owned by United Utilities has recently had trees cut down and new ones planted. They have opened it up for recreation without any path improvements, just some simple environmental advice.

I choose a newly trodden path through the mature trees alongside the little brook, it took me down the hill and into a more open area.  Most of the newly planted are deciduous but firs are cropping up from seeds in the ground, It was good to see a kestrel hovering overhead.  Keeping  going alongside the water until a gate into a small water catchment area which led to the Old Clitheroe Road. The stream disappears under the road here. I have passed this way many times wondering about access up the stream, deer are a common sight in this valley.  Signs suggested they didn’t want people in the works’ area, maybe I had gone too far.

Pleased with myself for finding this link up I retraced my steps back into the new plantation heading for the top edge where I entered the mature dark forest and made my own path back up the fell. At one point I jumped out of my skin as a hound, Baskerville size, came hurtling through the trees with no sign of an owner. There had been more cars parked when I arrived, so I presume it was from one of those – never to be seen again.

I progressed up the hill towards a fenced off quarry in the felled area. I profess to having prior knowledge here. Years ago when this hole in the ground was surrounded by trees  I would climb the stone wall into these woods and disappear into the hidden quarry for some esoteric bouldering on its dark damp walls. The other day I came across some photos and a guide I had written – it slowly reverted to nature but gave me entertainment and exercise for a couple of years before I moved on elsewhere. Simple joys that have been derived from the outdoors throughout my life. And here I am again peering into its depths.

Picking my way through the new plantation I head back to my car just as my friend appears exercising her dog. She must come most days. We reminisce about past times and friends. Years ago I sold my house to her parents; I hadn’t found another one at the time, so I stayed on in a flat above the garage, the arrangement suited both parties, rumours of ‘ménage à trois’ circulated in the village. The lady I’m talking to today would have been 4 or 5yrs at the time but remembers it well. She is now a talented artist and does a lot of good work with schools, community groups and underprivileged youths. I’ll give her a plug with a photo of her van.

 

 

That hole in the ground.

Distant Pendle.

***

I have not shown my erratic wanderings on the map below, just an outline of the woodland. It will be interesting to see how this woodland haven develops.

I have been back this evening for further exploring.

THE ROUND LONGRIDGE WALK.

Monday. 15th February.     6.5 miles.     Longridge.

Somewhere I have a small tatty leaflet from many years ago detailing a walk around the outskirts of Longridge with a sketch map showing the route. I might yet find it.

***

Anyhow, I felt I knew the way so after lunch today I ventured out to join the circuit. The walk keeps to the rural edge of the village for most of the way and hasn’t been encroached upon in too many places by the new housing developments. Below is a more than detailed description of the route with photos of the obvious sections which I intend to provide for local usage.

***

 

A good place to join the circuit is on Higher Road near John Smith’s Playing Field and the old Quarryman’s Arms pub where there is parking. Round the corner you  go down a cutting, Tan Yard, into old quarry workings. There are some stone houses here, one looks as though it could have been the quarry master’s house, there are good views over the reservoirs to West Lancashire.

On down Tan Yard lane to reach the busy Lower Road.

Almost opposite is a farm lane with elaborate gate posts. It leads to a cheese and meat packing plant. A stile leads ahead, and then you bear right to another stile giving access to a green lane going south. At its end cross the field diagonally towards the far right corner.

Finding a footbridge down on the right and up to the sturdiest stile in the Ribble Valley. A field to Alston Grange Farm.

At the farmyard go round to the left of all the buildings and then rightwards to a stone stile on the Alston Grange farm access lane. Go left here.

At the next lane you turn left onto a path past a collection of eco lodges. At its end go over a stile turn right and follow fields north of the reservoir.

At the end of the field a lane goes left around the reservoirs and then right onto the tarmacked Pinfold Lane. Along here are some bird watching hides on the redundant Alston 3 reservoir.

At the end of the lane [notice the old stone cross base in the field on the left at the corner] you join the busy Preston Road and cross over to follow the pavement  past the Franco’s Italian Restaurant and Forshaw’s Yoghurt Dairy until opposite the White Bull Inn a concreted track, the left one, goes towards Daniel’s Farm.

Once through the farmyard a rough track goes across fields over a stile and footbridge to follow the hedge until a metal gate on the right gives access to the football pitches. Go straight across to the car park and then go left through the gates, across the old railway and Shay Lane.

Directly opposite a path goes alongside sawmills to cross a small stream and then turn right up Green Nook Lane.

This comes out onto Whittingham Road near new housing. Follow it left until a turn into Halfpenny Lane. Halfway along you pass the historic Old Rib Farmhouse on the left and a little further take a footpath diagonally left to join Inglewhite Road where you walk up the pavement out of Longridge.

From Inglewhite Road you branch off into Clay Lane. This has been a droving route into Longridge in the past and there was once a clay brickworks along it.

You emerge onto the Chipping road at a bend and walk on until you can take Mile Lane leading up towards the tail of Longridge Fell. I have come this way many times.

At the top bear right and go through trees on a narrow path, which had been a rail line to a small quarry, and then head left up through the park to pass a children’s’ play area and the old tunnel, now blocked, taking a branch rail track into the major Tootle Heights Quarry, You emerge from the park and go left to Higher Road and your starting point.

*****

After a lot of searching I’ve found the piece of paper with a map of the route. It is marked as page 12, but I’ve no idea where it originated from. Perhaps some of my Longridge readers may have a similar copy.  I suspect its vintage is 40 years ago.    I notice that I didn’t quite follow the suggested route at Pinfold Lane, so I  returned to walk the leaflet way past Bury’s Farm. It is poor with broken stiles, indistinct paths and a horror of a farmyard at Bolton Fold, so I think my Pinfold Lane is better despite a little further by the road. I have shown both routes on my map below.

 

Some years ago a Longridge Partnership Action Group alongside Ribble Valley Borough Council produced an attractively illustrated pack detailing 6 walks in the area, One of these is the same route as the one I walked above.

Another leaflet you may come across details Heritage Walks within the town itself.

These may still be available.  The Railway Café Heritage Centre is a good place for information, in more normal times.

BLUE SKY DAYS.

Wednesday  10th January.   6.5 miles.    Bleasdale.

Thursday  11th January.  8.5 miles.     Longridge Fell.

Friday  12th January.  7 miles.  Beacon Fell.

You just had to be out these last three days, perfect dry and sunny conditions. I managed three walks and enjoyed blue skies each day on the lanes around Longridge. Below is a snapshot of each day.

For the trip around Bleasdale I met up with Mike and despite the forecast of below zero temperatures there was no wind so it felt almost like a spring day. We extended the walk from Bleasdale Tower to Delph Lane as we were enjoying the conditions so much. I’m glad we did as it gave a sighting of a barn owl flying low in front of us.  The coast looked very near in the clear conditions.

 


***

The next day I had just intended to follow the road loop up onto Longridge Fell, but I couldn’t resist the continuation up to the trig point and into the forest, the usually boggy terrain was frozen solid. The Bowland Hills are virtually clear of snow whereas Pendle looks plastered. On the return I wandered into plantations at Cowley Brook, I had seen cars parked here previously, and I found new leisure tracks opened up by the water board, I will have to visit again for a full exploration.

***

Today I drove a short distance out of town and walked the quiet lanes up to Beacon Fell, there were a few people about near the summit but I virtually had the place to myself. All was still and peaceful. I wonder if we will get any more snow this winter?

***

 

BETWIXT AND BETWEEN,

Tuesday,  February 9th.     6.5 miles.    Longridge.

There is a bridleway running between Alston Lane and Hothersall Lane south of Longridge. I have not used it for years. The importance of this bridleway, at least for me today, is that it passes by the house of a good friend. I have heard through the grapevine, as you do in these parts, that my good friend’s wife has fairly rapid onset “dementia”. Rather than phone him I thought it a good idea to call by, ‘in passing’. Well despite giving me a good walk it didn’t work – he was not at home. So I am back at home and ready to phone him with the thoughts of the onslaught of dementia fresh in my mind. I would have much rather have seen him in person on the bridleway.

 

On a lighter note as I walked back up Hothersall Lane I came across a heavily laden lorry parked up. The driver jumped out to ask me the whereabouts of Hothersall Farm. According to his satnav it was in an adjacent field.  I was able to give him the correct information so my day was not entirely lost.

       *****

THAT OLD FAVOURITE.

Sunday 7th February.   5.5 miles.   Longridge Fell.

I hadn’t intended to visit the summit trig point, I was in trainers for a gentle stroll around forestry tracks so once I’d left those tracks I ended up with wet feet. I expected more people on top judging from the cars parked up alongside Longridge Fell but found myself alone looking at the cold view across to the Bowland Hills. We have been lucky and avoided the snows in the last few days, although Pendle had a covering.

I had walked along the road from the Crowshaw parking to Kemple End and then up the zigzags of the forest trail. This is the first time I’ve been up here this year and I’d forgotten about the parking problems of lockdown. Mostly I passed dog walkers but also larger groups of ‘youths’ whom I doubt were from the same household or even this locality, they seem oblivious to the lockdown recommendations. Maybe rules would be more appropriate, but I doubt it would make any difference to these people.

Covid parking.

Covid walking.

A new section of forest was being felled alongside a path I often take.

On a more positive note I had an extended chat with a couple and two children from Grimsargh, he was picking up litter and setting a good example to his young family and any walkers who passed. The stretch up from the parking is the worst for cans and wrappers, he draws the line at poo bags. Why don’t I come equipped to do the same on my local walks – food for thought? One shouldn’t always leave it to that other person.

The litter picker extraordinaire.

It was sub-zero temperature as I wound my way back to the car. I had driven 3.5 miles to reach my 5.5 miles walk, that is a bit dubious in my book but at least I had climbed a fell, if only a modest one at 350 m.

Sorry but I couldn’t resist another lone glove photo…

*****

 

 

ALMOST A NOTHING WALK.

Thursday 4th February.  5 Miles.  Longridge.

Halfway up the steep Birk’s Brow lane I stopped for a breath; there was little to see in the murk, my mind had switched off a mile back, I was not even sure why I was there. Had I come to my Covid lockdown impasse? Had the repetition and boredom caught up with me? Was there a way out from this pandemic? I was taken aback by this negativity that had suddenly descended upon me. Was my hope fading? I had imagined I’d been coping well with all the setbacks and heartaches of the last year but was this the reckoning I had to face? Too many questions for which I couldn’t find an answer. I moved on in a cloud of my own making.

Birk’s Brow.

I have mentioned in several posts the poems written on old slates that have appeared around Longridge during these  troubled times. Uplifting themes and thoughts for us all to share. I often wondered who was the artist of these calligraphic verses. Well around the corner a lady pulled up in her car and proceeded to pick up the cracked slate there.  “Do you know ?… are you the person ?…”   I’d stumbled on the originator of all these slate poems. She had started with one and then been encouraged to do more with friends recommending poems. I was overjoyed to speak to the lady.

My day was saved, and I walked on through Longridge with a spring in my step.

 

*****

HAIGHTON.

Friday 29th January.     7.5 miles.           Preston.

I drive a couple of miles to Grimsargh and park close to my last walk to save repeating the same roads. Walking through Cow Hill and down to the cattery, then along by Savick Brook to the private drive of Haighton House is a walk I’m very familiar with. I climb up the bridleway to Ladyewell House and follow Fernyhalgh Lane past St.Mary’s Church and school to Haighton Top.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mary%27s_Church,_Fernyhalgh

I was starting to think this was a mistake as It brought back too many memories of bringing my friend with Alzheimer’s  this way to keep her as active as possible. She loved this area and always brightened up on recognising familiar places.

A soggy Cow Hill.

Savick Brook.

Haighton House hidden in the trees.

Memory lane.

Today’s hill – bridleway to Ladyewell.

Ornate grave at St. Mary’s Church.

Simpler memorial.

The old Fernyhalgh School. My children started their education here, it is now a nursery.

I moved on across the motorway and was soon using the route of Preston Guild Wheel as it passes through the industrial estate behind the warehouses. I’m normally on my bike along here, so I had a different perspective today. A lot of the people using it are walking between areas of Preston as part of their daily routine rather than rushing round the whole circuit. 

The lone glove phenomenon.

Coming off the Wheel at the service station next to motorway Junction 31A I was surprised to walk past a farm in the close vicinity. My efforts to come out by a housing estate were thwarted by a deep flood across the path. So I continued along the old railway line, Preston to Longridge, even though it wasn’t a public footpath. It became more and more overgrown and, I only managed to escape by crawling under barbed wire fences at Grimsargh Church.

Little Rough Hay Farm.

 

The back of Spar’s distribution centre.

No way.

The old railway line.

No problem…

…disappearing.

 

Escape.

From the bridge I rejoined the railway, now a made up track through Grimsargh to where the station had been. What a shame the ‘powers that be’ couldn’t connect it to the stretch from the motorway.

‘Grimsargh station’

 

Originally a farm, then a coaching inn. It served rail tickets before the station was completed.

Another successful local walk although not quite from my front door.

*****

Watch out for the wolf moon.

*****

 

MELLOW MISTS.

Wednesday27th January.     7.25 miles.    Grimsargh.

The frost and snow have gone, for now. Today is misty and murky, I can’t even see the fell from my house. I had a low level walk planned along the roads back to Grimsargh for another look at the wetlands, today would be ideal. On the way I dropped off an apple crumble for my friend in Brabiner Lane, he wasn’t in so will find it hopefully on his doorstep later. Brabiner Lane is renowned for its twisty narrowness and is best avoided in a car. With little traffic at present I crept carefully around its bends. I passed the embankment where there had been a bridge for the branch railway line to the old Whittingham Hospital mentioned in the above post. It was depressing to see so much litter along the verges. More new housing was going ahead at the entrance to Grimsargh Green.

 

Welcome to Grimsargh.

I chatted to a friend on the Green about our Covid vaccinations – the hot topic at the moment, She has managed to get two, I have mine on Sunday hopefully.

When I explored the ‘wetlands’, redundant reservoirs, a couple of weeks ago they were frozen over, and I didn’t find my way to the viewing hide. Today I found the gate leading to the hide – it was locked [Covid precautions] but I managed to climb over and enter the reserve.   Very impressive. At least this time there was open water with a few ducks, geese and coots paddling about.   I walked on to the bridge separating the mere from the reed beds and was able to see lapwings roosting on the misty island. My camera is not good enough to pick them out. Whilst here a gentleman from Longridge appeared with his binoculars and we exchanged observations. He used to be a postman and still walks miles every day, our paths often cross.

  I walked back along the busy main road and the only other thing to note is the discovery of yet another of those ‘slate poems’ propped up on a tree, They have appeared during this pandemic, which is almost a year’s duration, and are usually reflective and uplifting.   On the other side of the tree some less artistic wag has left this offering…

  The sun never came out, it was as misty when I arrived home as when I had left.

*****

A BRISK WALK.

Sunday 24th  January.    8 miles.    Knowle Green.

  A hard frost greeted me this morning with little hope of the temperature rising above zero throughout the day.  I decided on a brisk walk around the lanes circling Knowle Green. Up to the New Drop, turn right down to the Knowle Green road, along Greenmoor Lane, back up Preston Road and Tan Yard. It was a grey day with the hills holding on to some of yesterday’s snow. The highlight early on being catching the Highland Cow and her youngster in a better photographic pose. I tried to capture a kestrel in hovering mode. After that I just marched around the circuit to keep warm.

*****