Category Archives: Lancashire.

EVEN MORE OF DINKLEY ON A FAMILY GOOD FRIDAY WALK.

The successful walk last week along the Ribble must have been at the back of my mind when some of the family pitched up on Good Friday. So after a quick lunch of soup I suggested something similar as the weather was perfect. Parking at the Marles Wood site was tricky but we luckily managed a space as someone drove away. Since last week the bluebells have moved on a touch and the ‘blue carpet’ was making an appearance in the woods.

Sales Wheel.

A steady stream of walkers made their way through the woods to and from the river at Sales Wheel, early picnickers on the banks had been testing the cold water and were now relaxing with beers – typical Brits on holiday, some will have red skin tonight.

We pressed on to the open area along the river and descended to the shingle beach for a prolonged session of enthusiastic stone skimming. Despite the abundance of perfect flat stones none made it to the opposite bank.

After some time simple stone chucking became the order of the day before a drinks stop.

We admired the new bridge and noticed the plaque from the 1951 opening of the original suspension bridge, which I’d missed last time.

Rather than walk the long way back along the opposite bank, protestations from the grandchild, we decided to head uphill to the road on this side. Looking at the 1:25,000 I spotted a track going virtually all the way without too much road walking. Of course this was not a right of way but looked inviting so we went for it. This worked well and we followed tracks of sorts all the way without obstruction except at the end emerging onto the road where the gate was locked with dire warnings to trespassers. I was particularly pleased with the route which gave magnificent views back down to the river and the bridge as well as more distant views of Hurst Green, Longridge Fell and Pendle Hill, and brought us back to the car without too much family stress – we had only covered two miles in two hours.

‘forgive us our trespasses’

 

Back to my place for beers, bagatelle and Ratatouille.

*****

MORE OF THE RIBBLE WAY AND DINKLEY BRIDGE.

Following on from  last Saturday’s walk from Hurst Green JD and I decided on a section of the Ribble Way taking in the newly opened Dinkley Bridge.

We parked at Marle Wood carpark and crossed the road away from the river into fields rising above the valley behind what was Salesbury Hall. Unfamiliar views opened up over the Ribble Valley with Longridge Fell in the background as we ascended and then suddenly Pendle was alongside us. No sooner than we were up we were down, back at Ribchester Bridge over the Ribble. We were guided alongside properties converted from the former de Tabley Arms, latterly the infamous Lodestar nightclub.

Downstream past the de Tabley.

Upstream.

Here we joined the Ribble Way which goes upstream alongside the river as you would expect but before long is diverted away from it because of anglers ‘rights’. This has been a problem for this long distance path in several places thus depriving the walker of beautiful stretches of the river, an access problem that was never resolved and I think resulting in the walk never gaining the popularity it could have. It feels a little neglected now.

The woods hereabout always have evidence of flooding, lots of twigs and logs along with lots of plastic but it is a delightful stretch nonetheless. Soon we were at Dinkley Bridge reopened after several years since flood damage, the old suspension bridge has been replaced with an elegant modern looking structure with ramps at either end for access. Hopefully it stands well above flood levels, it certainly doesn’t wobble like the old one.

I searched my photos for a picture of that suspension bridge in vain so here is one from Lancashire Life.

On the far side we rejoined the river bank for the stroll downstream which gave the best views of the bridge. We walked through fresh wild garlic, the bluebells were just starting to colour, wood sorrel, celendines and wood anemones were plentiful.   This mile alongside the river is popular because of the car park, it gives access to the shingle banks, goes through Marle Wood and looks over Sale Wheel, a whirl pool on a bend.

Long may this spring weather last.

*****

ANOTHER HURST GREEN CIRCULAR.

JD suggested a walk from Hurst Green, well actually he first suggested a circuit of Fairsnape Fell but I wasn’t feeling up to that but the day was too good to miss.

Our object today was to see if Dinkley Bridge over the Ribble was open again after a major rebuild following damage from Storm Desmond back in 2015 when flood waters buckled the upper part of the 1951 structure.   All pictures from my cheap phone.

We parked up in the village and made our way down to the magic Dean Brook. Just off the path  is a hidden rock face on which we put up a hard route 20 odd years ago, I was keen to have another look to assess any bouldering possibilities. The rock was still a bit green from the winter but there appeared to be plenty of clean rock low down, I will return to investigate.

Our route was to be circuitous to explore some unknown paths.  Searching for the first of these had us wandering into the back garden of the old hunting lodge of Greengore, we hastily retreated into the neighbouring field. Hidden stiles guided us across splendid Lancashire countryside to arrive at Higher Hud Lee Farm where an unlikely route took us through the untidy yards. On our way through we were press-ganged into helping two farmers push a car onto a low loader.

A stroll down the lane brought us to the long closed and now derelict Punch Bowl where another lane left the road heading for Bailey Hall. After a short distance we diverted to follow fields down to the thickly wooded Starling Brook and a footbridge. Once onto the next lane we were on familiar territory, or so we thought as all these lanes have a similar appearance. Strangely a small pond alongside seemed to have the remains of a speedboat embedded in it.

The Ribble Way joined us from the right and we followed the waymarks to Trough House where a diversion to the new Dinkley footbridge was made. What a splendid structure it appears though a trip to the far side would be needed for a proper view, an idea for next week. The old cantilevered structure has been  replaced. We were content to watch the Ribble flowing from the middle of the bridge. A lot of people were out and about enjoying the sunshine, many no doubt attracted by the new bridge’s opening.

The dogs at Trough House were in fine voice. Lambing Clough Lane climbed back up to Hurst Green where a wedding was in progress in The Shireburn Arms – what a day for it.

PS. The tyres on mountain bikes are getting bigger…

*****

 

LONGRIDGE FELL WANDERINGS.

A rather gloomy Longridge Fell with Pendle in the background.

I rose Phoenixlike from the ashes for a stroll on Longridge Fell. I had not been out for a month due to some chest infection or other and I wheezed my way round today. The weather was not the promised spring sunshine, in fact I wished I had donned an extra layer to cope with the cold wind.

I chose an anticlockwise circuit for some reason but before long this was denied to me by forestry work on wind-blown trees that had closed some paths. Over the last few years there has been a lot of tree felling partly due to fungal diseases attacking the spruce, and the edges of the remaining trees are susceptible to strong winds. I lost a Blue Spruce in my own garden two years ago and wonder whether I brought the disease back from the fell.

The diversions led me into parts of the forest long forgotten and rarely visited.

My favourite tree on the fell.

Approaching problems.

No further.

Deep in the hidden parts.

On the way back I enjoyed a  long open section past the trig point with decent views into Chipping Vale and across to the Bowland Hills. I met the only people I’d seen all day flying an extremely fast model glider.

The Bowland view.

What’s eating this?

The modern non-edible variety.

It was windy.

You can see from my plotted map that I walked an erratic route with some backtracking but managed 7 miles which pleased me.

*****

SD 38. NELSON TO OLDFIELD.

This was a day of two halves, first the transition from industrial Nelson to the complex field paths in its rural hinterland and then second glorious moorland walking over to Yorkshire.

We left the car in a dodgy carpark in Nelson assured by a couple of youths we wouldn’t get clamped. With nervous looks back we climbed modest streets eastwards towards Mecca or was that the local bingo hall. Views back down the streets showed a misty Pendle.

Anyhow we found ourselves in  Marsden Hall Gardens which proved fascinating. Originally owned by the Walton family [more of them later] the estate passed into Nelson Corporation ownership in 1912. The 16th century hall still stands above the gardens. We came through the ‘Egyptian Gate’ a sandstone edifice with interesting carvings, most notably it is known as ‘the wishing gate’ and to this day people place leaves in the carved holes before passing through and making a wish.

Our next goal was an iron age fort marked on the map at Castercliff, despite its obvious size and prominence there was no local signage. It was constructed maybe 500 BC and there is no evidence it was ever occupied. The views from the summit over the towns in the Pendle Valley were hazy but retained the feeling of being up high. The way kept going upwards and ahead of us on a hill in the distance was the prominent monument to the Walton Family.  A Victorian cross place atop a 9th century monolith which would warrant further close investigation.

The next hour or so found us navigating seldom used paths in rough fields between ancient farms. At one stage a Jack Russell harried us noisily for a good half mile through fields from its farm. At the time we were hopelessly lost and the farmer was shouting unclear directions. Things improved as we approached the south of Trawden, walking down a quiet lane we passed the idyllic and listed New Laith Farm. Once on the edge of town we turned off right into the narrow street of White Lee, old cottages gave way to new housing as we turned down an old mill lane to cross Trawden Brook and climb up to more Laith farms, the word meant granary or simply barn and is used a lot in northern England.

A working Will O’ Th’ Moon farm.

Residential New Laith Farm.

The way became rougher as we climbed higher. We found an enclosed track crossing the moorland to the west of Wycoller and lunch was taken high on this  ‘Forest of Trawden’ looking over the Wycoller valley.

We dropped into the valley  and made our way to Parson Lee Farm which we recognised from coming  through on The Bronte Way last year. The winding track climbed slowly up into the moors, our journey pleasantly interrupted by a lengthy conversation with two passionate fell runners enabling Sir Hugh to reminisce on his one and only fell race. A trod took us across a wilderness to reach Watersheddles Reservoir, whereas last time we walked down the dangerous road from here today we found the concessionary path alongside the water. Up here we listened to Oyster Catchers by the shimmering water and Grouse and Curlews further afield, all very evocative.

There was only a short stretch of road before we turned up the quieter side road which gave us panoramic views over the Ponden area. We crossed The Pennine Way back to our car completing a satisfying 10 miles in perfect weather. Somewhere along the way we had crossed from Lancashire into Yorkshire which we will remain in for the rest of our route, so only the two great counties coast to coast.

*****

 

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 4 – A sunny Longridge Fell.

Longridge Fell from the south, Kemple End is the steep bit at the right.

Higher Hodder Bridge to Longridge.

JD and I are sat in the bus station at Clitheroe waiting for the Skipton bus to arrive with the pieman on board. The alloted time passes and we wonder if we are in the right place, we circle the area in our car but no sign of him or the bus. The phone call elicits that the bus broke down! We look at each other and as the day is dismal and I lack enthusiasm we drive home  for other pastimes,  ie gardening.

Fast forward 24 hours and we are sat in Clitheroe bus station once again. I must admit the weather was far better today so we hoped the pieman would arrive. He did and within 10 minutes we are parked up at Higher Hodder Bridge at the base of Kemple End, the east end of Longridge Fell. After a stretch by the Hodder we start a fairly easy zigzag ascent of the fell. Behind us were views across the Ribble Valley to Pendle and Waddington Fell. We emerged at the road and stripped down to shirts for the rest of the 1000ft ascent in increasing temperatures.

Higher Hodder Bridge.

Climbing Kemple End, Pendle in the background.

Layers coming off.

A mixture of tracks and paths through the forest where there has been a lot of clearances of late, a magic route opened up in front of us. The lighting seemed to transport us to some alpine approach but there were no snowy peaks above. Familiar tracks head up the fell though in some places wind damaged trees create diversions. We came out of the trees at a well known viewpoint overlooking Bowland, the Three Yorkshire Peaks were in haze.

Magic light amongst the trees.

There is a way through.

More uprooted trees.

That viewpoint.

Our guest from Yorkshire is impressed by the scenery and we eventually arrive at Spire Hill the summit of Longridge Fell at 350m. At the trig point is a man talking on short wave radio as part of the Summits on the Air scheme.  He was mainly concerned with radioing his position although he requested a summit photo. Listening in to his pointless conversation with some unknown person made me think why we climb summits. We were sweating from our exertion, ready for lunch, breathing in the air and enjoying the situation and views particulrly of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. It takes all sorts.

Radio ham.

Well deserved lunch with a little Brexit chat.

We had been climbing steadily all morning but from now it was gently downhill. The view over the Fylde was rather hazy but the sunshine became warmer as the day wore on. There was some unavoidable road walking past the golf club. This now popular venue had humble beginnings as a 9 hole course which was amalgamated with Preston Cycling Club at the beginning of the 20th century. They built an early clubhouse shared with the golfers and as time passed the golf developed and the cyclists moved elsewhere but the badge still remembers the joint beginnings.

Heading down with Parlick and Fairsnape in the distance.

When it all started.

Present day signage.

We took to fields again and entered Longridge via the old railway line used by the stone quarries. We had spent the whole time walking Longridge Fell, about 7miles as the crow flies, hence its name. Cutting through the streets we completed our house to house route from Skipton. Well that’s another of my straight lines accomplished and very enjoyable it has been; beautiful varied scenery, interesting history and good companionship with enough exercise on each occasion to fill a winter’s day. But now Spring is upon us thoughts drift to wider horizons.

*****

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.

*****