Category Archives: Longridge Fell

Around the block.

I can’t believe I was climbing a few days ago in a T shirt as this morning the cold dull weather continues towards Easter. I rouse myself to do a favourite short walk from home to see what is happening in the countryside. Longridge Fell looks broodingly down on the start of my walk into a field full of seagulls, they are unusual so they must be feeding on something – possibly recent muck spreading.

A glance at the 1:25000 map shows many small ponds in these fields, they are the remains of Marl Pits dug in the 19th century to provide lime rich clay for spreading on the fields to improve the soil. They now provide an interesting habitat for wildlife and plants. One near here unfortunately is used by the duck shooting fraternity, today the mallards were paddling happily. A couple of larger ponds used to keep my children happy for hours fishing for god knows what.

I passed a few metal gates which are for access to a line of aqueducts crossing this area, the Thirlmere aqueduct to Manchester and the Hodder aqueduct to Blackpool. Generally the former has black gates whilst the latter green. A useless bit of information.

On the lanes Blackthorn was in flower before its leaves appeared, the reverse of the Hawthorn, May Blossom. The phrase “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” was particularly pertinent today in the cold wind.  Better information.

Blackthorn.

Sheep were with lambs and the cattle were being let out into the fields. I came across a particularly threatening breed of sheep.

Pit Bull sheep.

Since I was last this way a memorial seat has been erected – “he loved this farm” a lovely sentiment.

Passing three popular hostelries …

Ferraris Country Hotel.

Derby Arms.

The Alston.

… shunning them all I arrived home in under a couple of hours. The weather shows no sign of improving but at least I’ve had some exercise.

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – YET AGAIN.

I had no sooner booked a trip to the Canary Islands, to get away from our dismal weather, when the temperature here shot up and the sun was shining. Will it last? Better get out, make the most of it and do a bit of training. Now when I say training I mean go for a short walk. I chose Longridge Fell again as I was hoping for clear views, but which way up?  It is so easy to park up near Cardwell House but I decided to reverse my usual routes for variety. This turned out to be quite different and not entirely successful, for some reason my anti clockwise circuit was strangely unbalanced. I couldn’t really say why – the wrong views, the wrong gradients, the wrong approach.

So what was new today, apart from the sunny weather?  There has been a lot of timber extraction on the fell in the last few years, partly due to the Ramorum fungus and also with maturity. Interestingly I’ve spent a few days recently cutting down a Blue Spruce in my garden. It suddenly lost all its needles a couple of years ago and has not recovered. Spruces are susceptible to the disease and I wonder whether I brought it back from the fell on my boots. The tracks on the fell have been improved to take the heavy machines and lorries involved. They only need to quarry superficially into the fellside to obtain  hardcore for the tracks. I had just passed one of these quarries when I came across a lorry and trailer being loaded with cut timber. It looked a slick operation.

Distant Pendle Hill.

Ready made hardcore quarry.

Smaller tracks took me to the top and the views were clearer than the other day, the Yorkshire Three Peaks were prominent and across Chipping Vale the Bowland Fells distinct. On my way down the ‘balcony’ path I started to meet people coming up from the now busy carpark.

A good 5.5 miles. I was home for lunch.

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – UP AND DOWN DUDDEL BROOK FROM RIBCHESTER.

 

Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

Today’s walk followed that futile theme and the rhyme filled my head.

Duddel Brook rises quite high on the southern slopes of Longridge Fell and reaches the Ribble in Ribchester. This Brook have carved its way down the hill and created a wooded valley [seen on the OS map as a green caterpillar] for the most part secretive. The other obvious stream is Dean Brook passing through Hurst Green. Their importance in the past was related to the many small mills powered by the rushing waters and hence they are worthy of exploration today.

From near the Roman Museum in Ribchester I set off along the Ribble to where  the Duddel Brook issues close to a Roman bath house whose outline has been excavated. Normally field paths from Stone Bridge would lead across to Gallows Lane but at the moment they are virtually flooded so I followed the main road before turning up the Lane. A mullioned cottage at Lower Dutton is outstanding. I gained access to the brook a little higher and wandered through the beech woods alongside the water. Old mills appeared with signs of mill races, lodges and ruined wheel installations. I believe that bobbin making was the main industry here. Above the deep valley there was a brief view of Dutton Hall a prominent C17 house with a commanding aspect over the Ribble Valley. I crossed the brook on bridges and eventually deep in the valley recrossed by a shallow ford.

Start and finish – Duddel Brook entering the Ribble.

Roman Bath House.

Dutton Hall.
Wikipedia.

The path climbed away from the stream into fields. A lone oak tree, perhaps 300yrs old, was a waymarker across the field. On the road a small wholesale unit purveyed vitamins as well as ‘sweets’, I didn’t 

only half-way up – neither up nor down

  Again I took the easy drier tarmac option, walking up Huntington Hall Lane past several expensively converted houses and barns. After a steep section Huntington Hall itself appeared on the right, a 17century house which has had a lot of money spent on it in recent years. At the road corner I was back into the fields with views back to the Ribble Valley, I meant to say this was a rare, sunny, dry day. Cresting a hill Intack Farm came into view, again a place spending lots of money with a horse arena right across the footpath but the diversion was no problem and well signed – but is it legal? A quick peep into Crowshaw Quarry showed it to be remarkably dry, could be bouldering here later this week. Crossing the road the main forest track was taken eventually leading up to the trig point on Longridge Fell. Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills were fairly clear but that was not really today’s objective.

Huntingdon Hall.

Longridge Fell Trig point.

when they were up, they were up

 

I came down by the track to Lennox Farm near where the Duddel Brook probably starts life.  A lane took me past Goodshaw Farm where the new lambs were being tended, the farmer told me he had 600 sheep to lamb this year and was concerned about the wet fields he was placing them into. Below the farm was an old barn, Smith Bottom, which on close inspection revealed two perfectly shaped cruck frames thus giving a clue to its medieval age. Down steeply through beech woods overgrown with rhododendrons to a bridge over our brook. This lane leads up to the highly secretive Dutton Manor in its cloak of trees.

A young Duddel Brook.

Smith Bottom cruck barn.

Trees hiding Dutton Manor.

Across the next road was Duddel Farm on its exposed hill. The farmer was feeding cattle in the barns and bemoaning the wet conditions, but despite that remained cheerful and chatty – we had many mutual friends and interests. He was right about the conditions as the next few fields leading back to Ribchester were almost afloat and the mud slowly crept above my knees.

 

I don’t normally take selfies.

I was keen to reach the last two listed buildings at Stydd. First was St. Saviours a simple C12 chapel. Its plane interior has a flagged floor with ancient gravestones, a stone coffin and wooden pulpit and rails. Very evocative. Further down the lane is Stydd Almshouse built in 1728 to house the poorest parishioners. It is an architectural gem with its central staircase and diminutive size.

St. Saviours.

So back to where I started.

when they were down, they were down

 

I would like the challenge of an entire ascent of Duddel Brook – obviously in dry summer conditions and with a good degree of so called trespassing. Watch this space.

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

End of the line.

Bouldering in Crowshaw Quarry.

 

Since I last did a new problem up here  https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/what-have-you-done-today/  I’ve been trying a traverse line on the far left-hand wall, hands on a sloping top ledge and intermittent footholds below. I always seem to be on this problem just before I go off on a walking holiday and I’m worried about my ankles if I fall off.  So today I seek moral and physical [moving the pad] help from one of my oldest climbing partners who now unfortunately doesn’t partake. I start on the easy bit, climbing up a flake to reach the traverse. A couple of damp hand holds lead left to a large footledge before the committing moves up to the highest point. From here I can use a couple of decent footholds as I hand traverse on slopers. There is a section where you have to smear to make progress and I repeatably chicken out and I skittle back, all good warming up. Frustrated with my progress and aware of my spotter’s commitment I try again maybe four times with the same retreating result. So forget about moving the pad – place it further left and go for it. Good left hand whilst my right foot is on a hold, left foot on a smear,  slap across and down  with the right hand, smear both feet and then stretch to a left foothold and follow with the hands and it is done.              End of the line.

 

“Even if you’re old and gray
you still got something to say”     Traveling Wilburys.

 

 

A plethora of bilberries.

As I parked up at Kemple End  little groups of bending figures dotted the fell side, they are clutching  plastic containers and their purple fingers announce their activity – bilberry picking. We are all eating a lot of BLUEBERRIES these days, they are commercially grown, are widely available in our shops and keep for several  days. Their close relative the BILBERRY [WHINBERRY or WHORTLEBERRY]  Vaccinium sp. grows wild and being much softer doesn’t keep so is better known by the foragers amongst us. From July onwards on Longridge Fell the low bushes are covered in purple berries which I must admit are fiddly to pick but are delicious to eat.

 

In southern France they are known as myrtille, in Italy mirtillo and are commonly found in local markets and delicious tarts. Professional collectors are seen out in the hills using wooden combs to quickly harvest large amounts which are pooled in large canisters which are carried down later in the day. It all looks hard work.

I drop down into the quarry where the other collectors don’t venture and am able to pick at leisure on laden bushes. I quickly fill a small container before a spot of bouldering on rather damp rock this morning. Mouthful’s of berries intersperse problems. The bell heather is just coming into flower and the flowering blackberries promise abundant fruit in a month or so.

 

I remember summer days’ climbing in the Lakes on multi pitch routes where every belay ledge was covered in ripe bilberries, scrumptious.

Oh it’s started to rain again, better get home and bake that pie.

Longridge Fell – then and now.

There is a stream coming off Longridge Fell crossed by a small bridge.  I often walk this way. When my two oldest grand children were young this was an ideal spot for a bit of ‘damn building’ and became a favourite of theirs.

This weekend I had staying my youngest grandchild and he was keen to follow suit.  His father took a picture of us, then remembered back to previous times and low and behold there on his phone was April 2002.

Uncanny coincidence. Wish I had evidence of visits with my boys when they were that young in the 70s.

2002.

2002.

2016.

2016.