Category Archives: Longridge Fell

DEEPER INTO CHIPPING VALE.

The Lazy Loud River.

There was a beautiful sunrise today which heralded good weather to come.

I’d arranged with JD to continue our intimate exploration of Chipping Vale by following as close as possible the little River Loud on its way to join the Hodder. My route was ambitious as from previous experience I know some of these paths are rarely walked. I was hoping for an easy day because of my recent stiffness and should have been concerned with the first stile we encountered off the road, awkward and overgrown. To be honest we never really found a convincing path through the fields to the limestone Knainsley Quarry and once we were in its extensive area compass work was needed to get out. We emerged onto a lane bounded by expensive property conversions, lots of Range Rovers – that sort of place.

The next stile was impossible to negotiate, guarded by brambles and sloes, [reported to the authorities] but fortunately a gate took us into the same field to link up with a path that kept coming to more awkward overgrown stiles, but we slowly made progress to emerge probably on the wrong drive way at Loud Carr Side. All along this stretch we had wonderful views of the Bowland Fells to the north. Their road led us to Gibbon Bridge over the Loud. A substantial stile gave access to the river bank  here populated with Himalayan Balsam and more worryingly Japanese Knotweed, The river is small and flows along at a snail’s pace. Pushing on through the vegetation we made progress down stream, despite acrobatic stiles, to the stepping-stones  across the river. A few days ago there would have been little water here after the drought but we have had a lot of rain since and our crossing was a little tricky as some of the stones were submerged. A gentler stretch through fields and we emerged at Loud Mythom Bridge. What are these  iridescent beetles ‘feeding’ on dock leaves?  We walked on to Doeford Bridge where the Loud joins the much wider Hodder. A fisherman was casting in the Hodder below, a popular fishing river. We ate lunch at the bridge and watched many cyclists coming through from  the Trough of Bowland, and also speeding motorists having close shaves on the bends.

The Loud joining the Hodder just above Doeford Bridge.

We had considered continuing across the stepping-stones at  Stakes Farm but walkers coming in the opposite direction confirmed that they were impossible with missing stones and high water which is a regular problem. So we backtracked up the lane and onto a track heading for Greenlands, as we walked through the farmyard a, fortunately chained, dog leapt out of its kennel narrowly missing JD. That raised our heart rates.  More poor tracks and awkward stiles eventually brought us back to Gibbon Bridge. Cars were arriving for a wedding reception at the hotel. We didn’t have the heart to find the footpath through their grounds and spent the next half-hour or so lost in the fields which host the annual Chipping Steam Fair every May. Today turned out to be the Chipping Show held in fields on the edge of the village and we could hear loudspeaker announcements in the distance. The day was perfect for the show. From this side of the Loud we now had uninterrupted views south to Longridge Fell. A complicated series of fields, all thankfully well signed, took us from Pale Farm to the road and back over the Loud Lower Bridge to our car. We had achieved our idea of following the Loud but had found the walking difficult, in my condition, with overgrown paths and broken or blocked stiles.

*****

DEEP IN CHIPPING VALE.

One of the tags for my blog is ‘Chipping Vale’  and its used quite often.   I’m often looking down into this valley as it lies between Longridge Fell and the Bowland Fells. I’m not sure whether this is an official designation or a figment of my imagination. There is no mention on the OS maps, basically I’m referring to the Loud River catchment area which arises in the hills near Beacon Fell and meanders under Chipping into the Hodder at Doeford Bridge. Well today we’ll explore into this valley.

Chipping Vale from Longridge Fell.

There are several  points of interest – historic houses, ancient bridleways and limestone quarries. I’ve a book about limestone kilns and quarries in the area which highlights Arbour Quarry at Thornley as a major commercial  site so I was keen to revisit it.

Since my trip up the NE coast of Scotland I’ve hit a problem – I suddenly overnight painfully stiffened up in my shoulders and thighs. After some prognostication I presented myself to my GP – Polymyalgia Rheumatica [PMR] was his initial diagnosis  but the blood tests were equivocal. Give it another week and nothing much has changed, painful stiffness and similar bloods. I’m limiting myself to gentle walks around the village later in the day when I’m less stiff.

To hell with it I’m going for a longer walk and phone JD for companion, he’s strong enough to carry me if things become difficult.

So our venture into Chipping Vale commences. Field tracks out of Longridge are taken past ponds, where my lads used to fish for tench, to Gill Bridge over the River Loud, more of a stream than a river, where they had tickled unsuccessfully for trout. Private roads through the Blackmoss Estate formerly Lord Derby’s domain took us past converted barns and gentrified houses as is the norm around here. Indistinct field paths which seemed little walked brought us into the farmyard of Hesketh End a grade one listed C17th house.  The sandstone house has lovely mullioned windows and is noted for latin inscriptions on the exterior telling of historic incidents.

Chipping Vale with Longridge Fell in the background.

Hesketh End.

A nearby  property was ruinous 20 years ago and is now a substantial dwelling. We came out onto the road close to the recently closed Dog and Partridge, many pubs are capitulating in rural surroundings. From here we crossed the River Loud by a wooden footbridge. The banks of the river were heavily overgrown with Himalayan Balsam, its scent pervading the area. The low-lying meadows here are frequently flooded in the winter months when our track would be under water. We were heading for the extensive Arbour quarry, a source of limestone into the early C 20th. Lime was important to the farmers for improving their land. All that remains now are grassed over ridges and ponds, the latter having a large duck population. Sitting on a limestone outcrop for lunch we were covered with little black flies which fortunately were of the nonbiting variety. We couldn’t identify them but they were similar to ones I called Thunder Flies, it was certainly very humid today. There was wild mint growing  everywhere giving a stong aroma and attracting Painted Lady butterflies. I had vague memories of a large limekiln somewhere here but we couldn’t find it today in all the summer growth. There is a photo in my book of it operational.

Crossing to the other side of the valley we climbed a lane to reach farms strung along the hillside of Longridge Fell on roughly the 150m contour. I’ve often speculated this may be the spring line. Paths and lanes connect these properties and is known to some locals as ‘The Posties Track’. Some of the houses are still honest working farms but more and more are renovated as desirable properties, I must admit they all have superb views over Chipping Vale towards the Bowland Fells. We reentered Longridge on the old railway line that ran along to stone quarries. The gentle walking was no problem but my stiffness made getting over the numerous stiles comical.

*****

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.

*****

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 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…

 

*****

A NOTHING DAY ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

The weather was ‘nothing’ this morning, from my house I could see a mist hanging over Longridge Fell. The exciting curling match on TV, GB v Italy, had me enthralled and delayed any outdoor activity.  As an aside a curling ice rink is being constructed up the A6, there aren’t many around and the Winter Olympics coverage should give it a boost when it opens. I hazard a guess that they had scheduled its opening to coincide better with the Olympics.

A late decision was made to get out and walk the roads at the western end of Longridge Fell. A dry circuit on tarmac but with some steeper sections than I been willing to do recently. I didn’t expect any views but wanted to build on my recovery strategy and put my hip ligaments to the test. They have been improving with recent flat walking and my resistance-band side stepping exercises. To that end I completed the circuit quite quickly and was pleased with the 700 ft height ascended. Job done.

The road goes up past the Golf Course where a little activity was taking place – the wall running alongside the road took my attention for awhile as I admired the shades of green – the road itself has suffered this winter and like most others in the area will not be repaired quickly.

The busy New Drop inn is at the cross roads, the walls of this inn carry a white cross insignia and history records it was previously known as the White Cross Inn. Why the change and I wonder what the cross signified? The road I’ve travelled is the old road to Clitheroe over Longridge Fell which avoiding the valley bottoms. Turning left I follow a straight road which I always thought was part of the Ribchester Roman Road over Longridge Fell heading for the Salter Fell road and on to Carlisle but a dotted line on the map  suggests the Roman Road was to the west of the modern road.

There was only a vague view of Beacon Fell from Jeffrey Hill where the Roman Road changed direction. More nothingness.

On the return leg back to Longridge I couldn’t resist a look into Cardwell Quarry. Climbing here was banned by the landowner a few years ago and he has refused to be persuaded otherwise. I was surprised that the rock was not completely covered in vegetation due to lack of use. The outlook from here on a summer’s evening made a visit worthwhile – maybe someday.

Down past the golf course once again and today’s modest road circuit was completed. That constitutes a ‘nothing’ day in my eyes.

***

 Did you know the Americans celebrate an annual  National Nothing Day on January 16th, [I had my timing wrong].  Monty Python characteristically  took the idea further with their Adventures of Ralph Mellish – nothing happened …..