Category Archives: Lancashire.

BIVI ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

A unique experience.

I’ve been meaning to sleep up on Longridge Fell during this good weather but other things keep getting in the way. Made an effort last night before I disappear off to Scotland and arranging a late evening lift up the road was a great help. So at about 8.45pm I set off on the familiar track to the trig point. A few stragglers were wandering back down to the carpark and they wished me well. A few sheep looked at me strangely. The sun was already low and would go behind the Bowland Fells soon. I wasn’t going to see the sun setting over the sea at this time of year from up here, may have to have a night up on Fairsnape soon for that which would complete my trio of local fell bivis – including Beacon Fell.  [Memo to myself – better sleeping bag, camera as opposed to phone and a tripod.]  By the time I reached the top the sky was changing and the sun disappearing, I sat and watched with the three peaks clear to the east. A kestrel hovered right above me but soon flew off into the gloom leaving nothing but silence.

There was a cool breeze blowing from the north so I decided to go over the wall for a sheltered bivi spot and luckily found an almost level site yards from the trig point. I heard deer barking but none appeared. I was probably asleep by 10 but woke about one feeling decidedly chilly. I had my lightest sleeping bag and no spare clothes so couldn’t do much about it. There is little light pollution up here, a few lights down in Chipping, so the stars were clear, the moon was almost full. The next time I woke, about 4.45am, the sky was colouring over Yorkshire so I sat up and watched the changing display until the sun was fully up, 5.30am.  A lot of misty patches hung in the fields below and there was heavy condensation on my bivy bag suggesting the temperature had dropped considerably in the night. I managed an hour or so fitful sleep before packing up and walking home to the village just as it was coming to life. Another fine summer’s day in prospect highlighted by my night on the fell.

*****

THAT SHORT WALK OUT OF LONGRIDGE – UPDATE.

I was thwarted a few weeks ago on one of my regular local walks by a completely obstructed path.

Well today I followed the same route to see if anything had improved.

I’m not sure if the local authority or the farmer have got round to doing anything but I’m pleased to find the way open. I suspect some local walker/activist, I know a few, has cleared the way – well done. I think that in future with financial constraints placed on local authorities and the ever increasing pressure put on rural societies that we will all have to take things into our own hands to preserve the footpath network.

 

 

 

 

 

I continued on my way back to Longridge on unobstructed and for the most part signed rights of way.

*****

THE HEAT GOES ON.

Beacon Hill, Grindleton Fell.

I’ve just eaten a punnet of cherries with a beer whilst watching Belgium beat Brazil in a World Cup  game . The lazy days of this summer are passing by and now we have Wimbledon and The Tour de France to distract us.

 The pieman and I met up at Chatburn earlier today. I was glad we made the effort. At one point when we were aimlessly wandering around in a field in the midday sun I questioned our sanity. We had descended from up high on Grindleton Fell and were aiming for the River Ribble but fences and obstructions were in our way giving rise to some scribbles on my route map below.

We had started off on an old lane out of Chatburn which when face to face with a massive limestone quarry took us down to the Ribble and along a concessionary path to the bridge. On the outskirts of Grindelton, a village worth exploring , we picked up a rising bridleway which passed by some interesting houses – Victorian Green Banks, Georgian White Hall and spacious and pretentious Cob House. The old Yorkshire expression ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ came to mind as we speculated on who lived in these expensive properties. Then we were in the rough country above an old abandoned yet evocative farm.

We skirted the forest and ended up on the rarely visited Beacon Hill with a trig point at 305m, high enough for me today. We took the opportunity to relax, eat lunch and look at the views over the wooded Ribble Valley to Pendle and northwards towards the ‘Three Peaks’. A group of teenagers were struggling up the hill towards us, all heavily laden and no doubt on a DofE course. The ones at the front were chatty but the tailenders obviously had no desire to be where they were.

Hazy Pendle.

We passed through more desirable properties, thankfully guarded by docile dogs, before our episode of being lost, hot and bothered. Soon we were on The Ribble Way which in these parts upstream has been cruelly diverted away from the river by landowners with angling interests. We enjoyed our stretch of the river however as we headed back to Grindleton bridge and as the river was so low we contemplated a shortcut wading across. Oyster catchers and ducks lazed about on the rocks in the heat of the sun.

We cooled down with an ice cream from the famous Hudson’s shop in Chatburn, it was good to catch up with the pieman and we made plans for future forays.

*****

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.

*****