Category Archives: Longridge Fell

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – back on the trail.

P1090151It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.

I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn  conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?

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An uncertain start.

 

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Dilworth Brow.

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Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.

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Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.

I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.

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The Written Stone.

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This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.

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Up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The Ribble Valley and Pendle.

 

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No time for stragglers.

I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.

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That view from Jeffrey Hill.

Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.

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Remains of the sculpture installation.

Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.

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Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The listed C18th Thornley Hall.

 

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The ford.

 

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A promising start to the bridleway…

 

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…soon becomes this…

 

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…and then unexpectedly this.

Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.P1090169

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Wheatley Farm, 1774.

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One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.

 

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Parlick and Fairsnape.

There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.P1090183

There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.P1090184

Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.P1090186P1090189P1090190

***

 

Capture

LITTER ON THE FELL.

 

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             Longridge Fell looking across the green Chipping Vale towards the Trough of Bowland.

 

At the risk of raising the blood pressure of my, environmentally sensitive, readers – read on.

Following on from my brush with Covid I  have not kept up with the walks featured in the Lancashire Cicerone Guide book. I hope to resume them shortly. Today I needed a gentle leg stretcher – Longridge Fell always has something to offer. I’ve not done a ‘litter pick’ up there for several weeks so that became the object of the morning’s stroll. 

Parking up I was immediately confronted with discarded pizza boxes and drink bottles , also strangely two plastic motor oil containers. There is a litter bin 10 metres away, though admittedly it is usually full to overflowing. Not a good start to the day. P1090074

I set off on my walk intending to clear this mess up when I return, it won’t all go in my bag. Longridge Fell was bone dry making for easy walking though the threats of moorland fires must be high. I noticed the bilberries were very small perhaps a reflection of our lack of rainfall this June and July. The other thing that struck me was that the heather was already blooming – I seem to have missed some seasons this year.

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A sad finding on the ridge was a recently dead Kestrel. I could see no signs of it being shot, but I did wonder afterwards about possible poisoning. Should I have picked it up and sent to the RSPB or police for toxicology tests?

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Up to the trig point and back in a circle I half filled my bag with the usual doggy poo bags, drinks cartons and food wrappers. The short stretch on the road at the end provided an equal amount of rubbish dumped out of passing cars. All I had to do was pick up the rest of that rubbish in the car park. 

This is a local beauty spot with a fine view of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills so there are always cars parked here. In lock-down it was a free for all with all the verges taken over, things are back to normal now. Today I noticed two artists busy painting the scene. I wandered over to have a chat and admire their work. One was using watercolours and the other acrylic, they both complained about the high temperature affecting their paints. What a talent to be able to capture that view with a few brushstrokes. I wish I had asked them to email me a copy of their finished paintings.  That reminds me, I have on my study wall a watercolour of the very same scene done for me by a Mr. A Long, an artist who lived in Longridge 40 odd years ago.  

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Mr Long’s painting.

What a contrast from two gents fully appreciating their environment to the louts who drive up here with their takeaways and don’t take them away.

A RIGHT GOOD TRUNDLE.

When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called myself ‘bowlandclimber’. My first post incidentally was information on the climbing at Kemple End Quarry on Longridge Fell. I was out climbing most days, either in the mountains of Wales or the Lake District, the edges of the Peak District or Yorkshire, the Lancashire quarries or the bouldering in Bowland. What great friendships shared. As somebody said – “we had it all”

Time moves on, life evolves I’ve lost a great many friends in those years, that is the worst thing. My climbing unfortunately has taken a back seat for all sorts of reasons – OK I’m getting old and the joints aren’t what they used to be. But I’m not giving up that easily.

Today I find myself hanging from an abseil rope doing a spot of ‘cleaning’ in Kemple End. I love it up here. Those views over the Ribble Valley, the deer hiding in the quarry floor, the fresh green growth of bracken, the barn owl roosting across the other side, the thrill if anybody else is climbing here, the first chalked up handhold and the familiar movement across the rough rock, brushing off any loose dust.

Someone has reported, on a climbing forum, concerns about a hanging flake on one of the climbs – Birdy Brow for those familiar. I’ve soloed up and down this route, perhaps recklessly, for many years enjoying the positive layback moves on the flake’s edge. It has never moved.

I went back up there a few days ago and all seemed well but when you examined the flake carefully it was only balanced there by a bit of soil. There was no direct attachment to the quarry face. I felt a pang of conscience – what if someone was injured or worse, killed on this route. I was responsible for finding the route and publishing it to the climbing network. There it was in print in the Lancashire guide book, it even has a star.

Here’s a great photo of Phil Gillespie soloing it – (?copyright UK Climbing)

I’m back today intending to remove the flake which must weigh a ton. Hence, the abseil rope. I’ve brought a crow bar, but it only moves the flake a little, Maybe it is more secure than I thought, but once started I may have made the situation worse. Huffing and puffing I realise I don’t have the strength to prise it from its resting place. My car is only 50 m away and in the boot is the jack – never used in earnest before. Is this a job for the AA? 

I return and carefully place the carjack between rock and flake, a few turns of the screw and I can see results. Slowly the gap is widening, and I have time to ensure my safety and recover the jack intact as all that rock crashes to the ground. With a touch of sadness I realise the flake is no more. But there is one hell of a mess of broken rock on the quarry floor and some revision due to the climbs here.

All looks well on Birdy Brow.

 

Well maybe not.

 

That’s a lot of rock to fall down on you.


Jack in place. Does this photo make you feel dizzy?

 

Going.

Gone.

Down below.

A new scar to climb.

As I said my first post ever was about climbing at Kemple End, so it was fitting that this, my 1000th post, was on the same locality. Unfortunately I managed to delete a past post into the ether yesterday, so technically this post no 999, but I’m not having that. 

This is my 1000th post – maybe it is time to stop?

EASTER PARADE.

To mark the Easter visit of my family from Manchester a Chinese noodle lunch was enjoyed; and then whilst the physiotherapist was diagnosing my knee problem, resulting from that cycling incident last month, they exercised the dogs up on Longridge Fell. Back at home after coffee my three grandchildren were keen to do a little outside bouldering at the local unique Craig y Longridge. Where they live in Stretford is a bouldering gym, The Depot, which they regularly visit so a chance to get outside was eagerly anticipated. Despite the recent damp weather I was able to find dry rock to climb on and in my senior and injured role was happy to point them at the problems. Great to see them enjoying themselves.

By the time we got back the washing up had all been done. Perfect.

HAPPY EASTER.

JUST FOR THE RECORD.

The weather this weekend has been dry and sunny, just the ticket to bring Craig Y Longridge into condition. I made a tentative step with my bouldering mat for the first time this year. A few others were doing the same, a good family venue, so there was the chance for some chat between the attempts to test our fitness. Mine is sadly lacking, not having climbed for 6 months, the others had been enjoying the delights of indoor walls over winter which makes a big difference. I played about for an hour or so, more putting some chalk on the holds rather than climbing them.

I made my retreat across the road for some bird watching on the small reservoir. Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe.

The weather is set fair…

NEWS FROM LONGRIDGE FELL.

*****

The last four days I’ve been up on Longridge Fell, four short walks. Today, the weather is too bad to contemplate going outdoors. Looking out of my window, I can now just see the lower slopes of the fell above the roofs of the ghastly building site. In the fields opposite, soon all will be brick.

Saturday, I was feeling stiff from our excursions on Crookrise the day before. But the afternoon was too good to miss, so I thought I would have another look at the tree damage on the ridge path through the forest. Nothing much has changed, and it is still difficult and awkward to follow. In one or two places, a chain saw, person unknown, has been in action to cut a way through.

I met a chap and his energetic Springer Spaniel walking far quicker than I over the fell, a  quick hello was all I managed before he sped into the trees. On the return journey, a recognisable Springer appeared at my heals and yes, looking behind was his master rapidly gaining ground. To cut a long story short, after some pleasant conversation, with the chap not the dog, it turned out he’d suffered a heart attack several years ago and following bypass surgery in Blackpool made a good recovery. His daily heart physio was a brisk walk on the fell, I applauded him on his fitness and expect to bump into him again if I can keep up. A positive lesson to us all.

Boundless.

Sunday came and almost went before I roused myself and suggested to Mike an afternoon stroll around the Cowley Brook Plantation on the edge of the fell. We caught up on our goings-on and enjoyed the warmth of the weak sunshine. We used some firebreaks through the conifers to the lower water intake and then followed the lively stream back up the hill. All very pleasant in this United Utilities land recently opened up for public access.

Monday morning, after arriving back from shopping, JD was on the phone stating confidently that there was a two-hour break in the rain and proposing a walk on the fell. He is not usually that optimistic. A quick change and we were leaving his house for a well-used walk along the northern base of the fell. The fields were decidedly boggy, and we often seemed to go astray on occasions linking up the farms. In the past, we have had trouble through the pheasant shooting woods where fences seem to cut through the rights of way, today was no exception with the odd fallen tree also blocking our way.

But what was to follow was unbelievable. The path goes steeply up the hillside through the woods to reach the golf course. We found the majority of the trees snapped or uprooted, a scene of complete devastation. I was too shocked to take my camera out. We battled on to find even worse, with a new sign saying the way was closed due to the tree damage. It was too late to go back, so a wall and fence were carefully climbed and then the worst of the devastation avoided reaching the empty golf course closed due to waterlogging. Of course, where we exited was a notice saying the way was closed. Too true. By then, our two-hour slot was over, the rain followed us all the way back to town. We were thoroughly soaked by then, and I just wanted to get home for a hot bath.

Tuesday and the sun appeared again. My lunchtime walk up the fell was accompanied by the sounds of joyful skylarks, a sure sign of spring. I had the trig point on Spire Hill to myself, which is unusual these days. As well as the Bowland Fells across Chipping Vale, the more distant Yorkshire three peaks were hazily visible on the horizon. I framed a photo of the trig point for a new desktop background. My usual ‘secret’ path back through the forest was also disrupted by fallen trees, It will be years before many of the damaged trees up here will be cleared. The car park at Cardwell House was filling as I arrived back.

Counting Crookrise on the Friday, that’s five out of five.  Not bad for this time of year. Today I’m content just to walk up to the supermarket.

Go careful up there.

A PLEASANT INTERLUDE.

My hatches are well and truly battened.  Storm Dudley has come and gone, and Storm Eunice is all around me. I won’t be venturing far – I have seen at close hand what a falling tree can do to a car. On the subject of trees falling, sadly I had one in my back garden yesterday, so I have been busy with the chain saw.

On a lighter note I had my family come visit me this week, a rarity in the last two years. There must have been an alignment of the planets so that both sons could join forces. We are still doing lateral flow tests before meeting – are we paranoid?  I appreciate their concern for their possibly vulnerable dad.

Along came my son from Preston and the partnership from Stretford with their two robust dogs. Seth, my cat, sensibly retreated upstairs for the rest of the day. After a healthy lunch I needed to get them out of the house and up the fell – referring to the dogs if not the adults.

I’ve mentioned before the plantation at Cowley Brook on Longridge Fell. This is where we headed for some exercise. The dogs made the most of it, charging through the undergrowth and jumping into any patch of water.

Phoebe watches on as Gizmo is all a blur.

Is nobody joining me?

Back home we relaxed whilst the dogs slept. To put it all into context I’ve watched the men’s and women’s teams make it through to the finals of the Olympic curling. Brilliant, as they say – ‘chess on ice’. And can anyone explain to me why Europe is on the verge of another world war?

DOG LITTER.

I’ve just come back from a ‘litter pick’ on Longridge Fell. It was a misty day with nothing better to do. The bag was half full of dog poo bags. My last post involved a lovely walk with Poppy, an Airedale terrier, and her responsible owner. No litter of any sort, human or canine, was deposited. Most dog owners I meet and chat to are insistent that they always clear up and dispose of sensibly. (Shazza and Eunice included I’m sure)

So, who are responsible for all those poo bags scattered across the countryside. Certainly not the dogs themselves. I suspect the same people who blazingly walk around the supermarket unmasked, who throw rubbish out of car windows, who park illegally in disabled bays, who block the pavements with their SUVs, who cut you up at motorway junctions with a finger in the air. Correct me if I’m biased, I’m getting old and crusty.

Come on, you selfish dog owners, bag it and take it home with you. Have a bit of responsibility, think about the environment and not yourselves.

Quite a collection – who will dispose of it?

I HAD A PLAN.

On recent trips up Longridge Fell, I came across a new, at least to me, path deep in the trees west of the highest point. I noticed, at the end of this narrow corridor, light coming from the west. I calculated that if I was there as the sun was setting, the light would be concentrated through that point. That was the plan.

So today, after watching another farcical Prime Minister’s Question Time, I parked up on Jeffrey Hill just after three pm. The sun was already low, and the temperature was dropping. I hurried up the drying path towards the trees leading to the trig point. The decorated Xmas tree had been stripped of tinsel and baubles. Strangely, the tree with more environmental decorations hadn’t, I removed the remaining cardboard stars, now considered as litter. I digress.

After visiting the top, I took the damp track into the forest and diverted onto the ‘new’ path. All was gloom as I walked deeper into the trees. It was obvious that I had missed the ideal time, and the sun was setting past my portal. I suspect that two weeks ago would have been the optimum for the sun shining along the corridor of trees. There is no way back, I will have to wait till next year to test my theory.

In the past I have visited places in the world where the juxtaposition of some physical feature with the sun, moon or stars, at various times of the year has had some significance for the local populace. Our forbearers took a keen interest in astronomy. They derived a cyclical calendar predicting changes in the seasons, which they connected to their agricultural practises and pagan beliefs. Having a fixed physical point in the natural landscape helped them identify the passing of the year and its recurrence. A hole in a rock on the hillside or a nick in the skyline gave some sense of time. It was then only a short step to create a megalith, sundial or more complicated celestial instruments and then observatories.  This is all a little farfetched from my little pathway lining up with the setting sun.

By the time I was back at the car park there was only one vehicle there, thankfully mine, and as I drove back to the village the setting sun was flaming the low clouds.

AFTERMATH OF THOSE STORMS.

If you go up to the woods today, you’re in or a big surprise.

There must have been a lot of trees blown down in our recent storms, Arwen and Barra, I started to notice them as I walk farther along the fell. I haven’t been past the trig point on my tentative walks to see if my Plantar Fasciitis is improving. Today I intended to give it a sterner test, if you can call 6 miles a test.

It was when I met a couple who had turned back because of the difficulties that I questioned my sanity for continuing. Already I’d had minor diversions around fallen trees, but I fought my way through onto one of the obvious forest tracks on the ridge, thinking I had escaped the worst. Even this track was completely obliterated a little farther on as I approached what was named Sam’s View, a panoramic clearing. I had to go well off route to avoid the worst of the fallen timber. I could hear voices in the forest to my left and suddenly a family of four emerged looking rather dishevelled, they had been in there awhile trying to navigate around the damage. The father showed me their tortuous wanderings on his phone, I pointed them to a safer track.

I’d intended going as far as Kemple End on the ridge, but the way forward in that direction, a little difficult at the best of times, was wholly choked with fallen trees. I was glad just to return to the main forest road. Lots of families and lots of dogs were promenading this track, it was a Bank Holiday after all. I soon went my own way and traversed the fell back to my car. My heel is certainly improving, providing I stick to soft ground.

It was reassuring that most of the original Scots pines and Beech trees had withstood the storms.

Go careful up there.

OF THE SEASON.

I came out today and climbed the fell to try and capture a suitable photo for my season’s greetings. Maybe a robin, maybe a patch of snow or some holly berries or even a man in a Santa hat. No, I have failed, as you can see from my photo above. All was grey and gloomy.

It’s been that sort of week.  Most days I didn’t venture out into the raw weather. I was kept busy wrapping presents and mulling over wine. Making lists and peeling vegetables. Phoning distant friends not seen for months, even years. Avoiding the crowded last minute shopping. Enduring lateral flow tests and crossing fingers, already two of my grandchildren will be absent from the festivities. So this is Christmas.

  One bright spot today was a repainted slate poem in a cupboard with a humorous line – which made me smile.

Strange things happen on Longridge Fell.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

ANOTHER DAY — ANOTHER TREE.

I had been told by Clare, of Slate Poems fame, of another decorated Xmas Tree on the fell. I was up here to find it. Parking was difficult on this fine Sunday afternoon, remember the chaotic parking situation in our earlier lockdowns. The good weather had brought lots of families out at the start of the Christmas Holidays.

Would you believe it?  As I walked through the gate onto the fell, I bumped into Clare herself exercising her beautiful Collie.

I normally take the more northerly track overlooking Chipping Vale, I call it the ‘panoramic balcony track’, but there is also a track following markers going straight up the fell leading to boggy terrain, best avoided. Incidently this track goes through the site of some Bronze Age hut circles and burial grounds, I have tried unsuccessfully to locate these on the ground in the past. 

This was the way to the decorated tree and the way I followed today. The stone cairn has had an addition of balanced stones, often seen on rocky beaches, I suspect they won’t survive a winter storm. Not far past the cairn is the tree. It was decorated with more environmentally friendly items; fir cones, wooden ornaments and nut strings for the birds. Satisfied with my ‘find’ I continued on through those forementioned bogs to regain the regular track, which does have its own boggy moments.

The other Xmas Tree with its tinsel and Angel topping was passed, and I reached the Trig point. There were good views, but nothing compared to yesterday’s cloud inversion. Circling through the forest, I was surprised at the number of trees that must have come down in our recent storms.

Once looking across the Ribble Valley, Pendle and Samlesbury there was a repeat of the cloud inversion * in a southerly direction.

* Cloud inversions take place when the temperature is warmer higher up – such as on a hill or mountain – than it is down at the bottom of a valley

The colder air at the lower level traps mist and fog creating the impression of mountain summits floating above the clouds.

*****

Map showing the two Xmas trees…

AN ANGEL ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

I almost never set forth yesterday, the mist was so thick down in Longridge, but I wanted to continue with my renewed walking therapy. Friends had called in for coffee, so it was 2pm when I emerged out of the worst of the fog to park on Jeffrey Hill. The whole of Chipping Vale was a sea of cloud, with only the higher tops of the Bowland Fells visible across the way.  My route up the fell was shrouded in mist, giving a spooky feel to the place in the low sunlight. I had the feeling that I was being followed, but no one else was about. As I climbed the air cleared and soon I was above in blue sky with the ridge of Longridge Fell visible ahead.

I stopped briefly to place an angel on the top of the decorated Xmas tree, the reason for my venture after comments from my last post  –   https://bowlandclimber.com/2021/12/17/longridge-fell-christmas-tree/

At the summit was a lady with her Collie dog, she had been there awhile, enthralled by the views in front of her. It was indeed spectacular. Thick cloud filled all the valleys, and there above were the tops of the fells in sparkling clarity. Beacon Fell, Fairsnape, the Croasdale Fells and Waddington Fell. And in the distance the Yorkshire Three Peaks. All islands in the clouds. Looking down onto the mist I thought there was the arc of a broken spectre, but unfortunately it never really materialised.

Another walker arrived with his Springer Spaniel. Whilst the three of us chatted about the spectacle, the two dogs ran themselves ragged in a game of tag. I stayed longer than usual before drifting away as more people started arriving. I continued taking photographs as I came down the fell. By the time I had reached the road, a full moon rose from the east as the sun set in the west.

A perfect ending to a unique afternoon.

My pictures below don’t really do it justice.

THE LONGRIDGE FELL CHRISTMAS TREE.

A Christmas Tree has appeared on Longridge Fell, well actually there are already thousands in the forest up there. No, this particular one is garlanded with tinsel and festooned with baubles. You will find it as you climb the muddy track alongside the wall leading to the summit from the Cardwell parking on Jeffrey Hill. I don’t know when it began to be decorated, as today is the first time for weeks I’ve been up here.

The sun was shining brightly enough to tempt me out for a walk this afternoon. I was wary of my painful heel, but I figured that the ground would be soft. And it was. A few cars were parked up, but nothing compared to the chaos of recent lockdowns and travel restrictions. Are we going to see a repeat in the next few weeks as the Omicron variant outpaces our boosters? A conservative 93,000 cases today. I feel safe up here.

I take the panorama path high above Chipping Vale with the Bowland Fells across the way. The little spring as you start to climb was running full. This is where one has to hop around to avoid the worst of the bogs.

The Xmas tree is halfway up, adjacent to the watery path. To be honest, it is somewhat underwhelming. I make a mental note to possibly return tomorrow with some festive reinforcements to improve the look of the tree.

I continue up to the trig point and try to update my summit photos in the low winter sunshine.

Walking back down, I find it difficult to see where I’m placing my feet in the low sunshine. I complain to a passing walker ascending with the sun behind her, and she rightly rebukes me with “let’s be glad of the sun at this time of year”.

I was glad to be out on the fell on such a glorious day.

FLANKING THE FELLS.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by accessible fells giving good local walking, but at the moment I’m restricted to cycling, so I’m making the best of any opportunity for exercise whilst the sun shines. Today’s ride took me around the Bleasdale lanes without much climbing up the fells.  However, I was surprised that when I plotted the route later, I’d climbed a thousand feet. It didn’t feel like that, there must have been lots of gradual ascents in low gear. Throughout the day I was treated to fine views of the Bleasdale Fells, Beacon Fell and on the run into home Longridge Fell.

Within four miles I was cycling through Inglewhite with its C17th market cross and then down across the River Brock into Claughton, a scattered parish by the motorway. Somewhere in the middle of it is Claughton Hall, but I only saw the western gate lodge. Up the lane was a medieval cross, at least its gritstone base.

On the map there was a lane taking me in the right direction, but it turned out to be trickier than I thought, and I ended up walking the last uphill half, all very pleasant though.

I was soon on familiar roads skirting the Bleasdale Estate, with the fells all around me.

The ‘back’ of Beacon Fell.


Fairsnape and Parlick.

I stopped for a break and was joined by a party of horse riders from a nearby trecking centre.  In the field to my left were dozens of dogs running about, some sort of canine day nursery. The staff didn’t seem very friendly when I stopped to look, perhaps they are wary of dog thefts at present.

Next it was mainly downhill on convoluted lanes with Longridge Fell ahead. I live at the base of the fell, so no further climbing was needed.

The sun was a cold November grey by the time I pulled into home. Another simple 20 miles through Lancashire’s countryside.

*****

CIRCULAR CYCLE TO WHALLEY.

Another sunny-day journey with the over-the-hill cyclist.

As I swooped down into Ribchester, at the back of my mind was the thought that later in the day I would have to regain all the height, plus more. The morning was perfect with blue skies and sunshine, and more importantly to me in my new cycling guise – no wind. A pause to look at the River Ribble at Ribchester Bridge and then along the south side of the valley. The Marles Wood car park looked busy with families setting off for a riverside walk. I enjoyed the quiet lanes that eventually wound into Whalley on the banks of the Calder. I’ve always been intrigued by the row of cottages as you enter the village, today whilst I was taking photographs a couple of residents emerged and told me that they had been built as workers accommodation by a nearby hall. They had no explanation as to why there were two levels of access.

Dropping into Ribchester.

The Ribble, at Ribchester Bridge.

Old St. Leonards Church, Langho.

Whalley bound.

Terrace Row.

River Calder and that viaduct.

Whalley centre.

My favourite café in the village was closed, so I just carried on towards Mitton with its three inns, a hall and a medieval church which I’ve mentioned before.  A fisherman was casting in the Ribble with proud Pendle in the background.

Medieval church and Mitton Great Hall.

  Talking of fishing, the last time I passed this way  the Three Fishes was closed but in recent months it has had a makeover and reopened under Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth. He is hoping to make it the best pub restaurant in the area, judging from the prices, I won’t be visiting soon.

The road ahead gave a rather disheartening view of Longridge Fell, my next objective. But first I crossed Lower Hodder Bridge with Cromwell’s Bridge adjacent, you can’t pass it without another photograph. This was the lowest point of the ride and I now had to climb 600 ft back up onto the fell, steady was the word. Once up there, I had a switchback ride all the way back into Longridge and a hot bath to ease my aches.

Kemple End,  Longridge Fell.

Cromwell’s Bridge.

Longridge beyond the reservoir.

***

A couple of extras –

Whilst I was climbing up the fell earlier, I had passed the well-known Pinfold Cross. This is what I wrote last time – The Pinfold Cross is a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells. It was erected in 1834 at Stockbridge after he died in a quarry accident. On the front is inscribed the legend, ‘WATCH, FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’ Above this is written, ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’. On the left is ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’ and on the right, ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834′.

This is one of a series of crosses associated with Stonyhurst College whose grounds I have mainly skirted today. I did pass one of their gates and had time to ponder the school’s sign. I suppose times have changed and most primary schools now have a pre-school section. It is said that it helps children integrate better and prepare them for the learning experience to come. Oh! And it also provides a baby sitting service for busy parents out at work. What stuck me most was the 3-year-old reference. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I imagined all these little children being abandoned at the school each day, God forbid if they were boarders. I’m sure it is not as bad as that and the toddlers have a great time.

Lily Allen, whom you may not be acquainted with, wrote a song expressing her own child’s anxiety left at home whilst Mum sang around the world. We have to be careful how we nourish our young offspring. Needless to say, I was humming the tune for the rest of the ride. Here is a version of this touching song where she is accompanied by Jules Holland – I’m only three.

THE INNER CIRCLE, JEFFREY HILL.

Feeling rather despondent after struggling to cycle around Longridge Fell the other day. I had  been hoping soon to embark on a multiday cycle tour but now I was full of doubts, what would be my daily mileage. Realistically, I should be able to average 40 miles or more per day in hilly country, but I thought I was falling short of that. I’m getting older and I don’t have a scale to measure myself against, what I could do 30 or even 20 years ago doesn’t apply any more. I’m getting out of my depth.

I eventually stirred myself this morning as the weather brightened — time to test myself. From my house to the top of Jeffrey Hill is a mere 4 miles but is constantly uphill with 700ft of ascent. I aimed to cycle it without a break. Today’s route is in red compared to the circuitous blue of a few days ago.

I started slowly up through Longridge’s burgeoning housing estates. Summoning up some speed to pass the dog walkers, trying to not look out of breath. At the golf club the road was closed for drainage works but I squeezed through to remount and climb triumphantly to the summit of Jeffrey Hill just past the car park.  Views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills in one direction, the Three Peaks in the centre and Pendle in the other direction were too hazy for photography. A swoop down to the New Drop, now sold and being converted into apartments, and a right hand turn to follow the undulating road back past Craig Y, Upper Dilworth Reservoir and into town.

Approaching Jeffrey Hill.

Down to the New Drop.

Upper Dilworth Reservoir and The Fylde.

This took me just over an hour and I felt quite pleased with myself, slow but steady. I wouldn’t win any race, but I had proved to myself that my legs and lungs still have it. I’m trying to convince myself that cycling is wonderful.  My next ride — that road going the full length of the fell to Birdy Brow and the Hodder. Watch this space, not that it will be very interesting.

CYCLING AROUND THE FELL.

Blue skies, sunshine and calm conditions, perfect for a local cycle ride. Longridge Fell is my regular walking ground, but today I was going to circumnavigate it on lanes from Longridge. You will notice my post is titled ‘around’ and not ‘up’, I had no intention of cycling the high road over the fell, there are enough undulations on the planned circuit.

There was a chill in the Autumn air but by the time I arrived in Chipping I was suitably warmed up. The road I took follows the north side of Longridge Fell before dropping to Higher Hodder bridge. A steep little hill up past a once popular inn had me puffing and to be honest I was always a little out of breath on any incline from then on, I’m having difficulty getting cycling fit. Walking is so much more relaxing.

Great Mitton and its Medieval Church are skirted, then the road winds up through the Ribble Valley to Hurst Green. I’d planned a break here as there are seats on the village green. A walker with his Spaniel had bagged the best one, but I ate my banana on an adjacent bench before going over for a chat about all things local, a pleasant diversion.

Back in the saddle, I was soon back into Longridge, feeling rather tired from this modest ride. I had covered 22 miles but had ascended 1600ft in the process, there are no flat roads in the Ribble Valley.

And that’s about it. I didn’t take many photos.

Chipping.

Couldn’t resist another picture of Cromwell’s Bridge over the Hodder.

 

Hurst Green interlude.

On arrival back home this gigantic corkscrew had arrived on the building site opposite me. Earlier in the year we, the local residents, stopped Barratts, in the guise of homely David Wilson Homes, from disruptive pile driving on this site which is probably unsuitable in the first place for building on due to the shifting sands. They are now having to drill down 30–40 ft to find solid ground, don’t buy a house on Inglewhite Meadow.

YELLOW DUCKLINGS UPDATE.

 

     I was back up there tonight. As I walked in, I could see the six ducklings swimming about below. Their activity seemed frenetic – darting hither and thither. But no sign of Mother Duck. My anxiety rose, suspecting her fate. How would the ducklings survive?

   I sat around in the light rain watching their activities.

   Thankfully after perhaps an hour in flew Mother Duck who immediately took control of the situation and heralded her offspring into the dense bracken with much chirping and squeaking. They will be safe tonight.

  

   Whilst poking about on one of the quarry walls I became aware of a constant buzzing noise. Wasps were flying about, and there in front of me was the biggest wasps’ nest I’ve ever seen, over a foot high. Time to retreat.