Category Archives: Longridge Fell

YOU FAT BASTARD.

                                                                         Sweden Quarry.

We, us old farts, used to climb with a fit young lad who shall remain nameless. Regular evening visits to Lancashire quarries in the summer months provided good sport. He was pushing his grade, as a young man should, but often was lowered to the ground defeated by a high crux move which one of us old timers could easily demonstrate to him. Chastened he would apply himself to the next problem with often the same result.

It was only in the pub afterwards that an analysis of the evenings climbing took place. Typically, we focused on his failings and inevitably came to the conclusion he was carrying too much weight. This lead to, and I apologise as from now, describing him as a ‘fat bastard’. We did have his interests at heart as this insulting banter resulted in him disappearing, dieting and training to re-emerge the next week to climb as good if not better than us.

Someday I will write about climbing trips with this youth in question to places far from Lancashire and the resulting adventures. I will of course need his permission first.

Anyhow, today the boot, or climbing shoe, is on the other foot. I used to climb in a quarry high on Longridge Fell hidden in the conifer plantations – I called it Sweden for no other reason than the trees. Only I and a few others knew about it, and slowly it became overgrown as these places do. But it was there at the back of my mind and when social distancing became the norm, and I was wary of climbing in crowded Craig Y Longridge …

A crowded Craig y Longridge.

… I revisited Sweden.

Basically it is a large hole in the ground. The walls tend to be damp and uninviting but on an upper level there is a clean wall getting the sun all day. A few days getting rid of the vegetation that had encroached in the intervening years, and I was ready to try the problems that I had recorded 25 years ago. Armed with my tatty guide from then I began to repeat the problems. They were much harder than I remember and also apparently much higher despite the use of a modern day crash mat.

So it is back to square one – you fat bastard.

ABUNDANT POSITIVITY.

Wednesday 7th April.   4 miles.   Longridge Fell.

Last week, or was it last month? I’m beginning to lose track, I wrote of the litter left on Longridge Fell. https://bowlandclimber.com/2021/03/31/lets-stay-positive/ 

I went back the next night and collected a bag full of litter; cans, bottles, crisp packets, coffee cups and of course dog poo bags. A satisfying outing.

Today I thought it was time to repeat the exercise following the influx of Easter visitors. I parked at the usual spot on Jeffrey Hill and set off on my regular walk up to the trig point on Longridge Fell and was pleased to see there was very little litter – have I a competitor picker? I still managed to fill a carrier bag with mainly dog poo bags.

The highlight of the walk however was the number of couples I passed who thanked me for the effort and how they should do the same. I thus had several conversations of a varied nature.

A Bangladeshi family were not so much interested in the litter picking but were keen to seek directions for the best paths, this was the first visit for them. They seemed adventurous so I sent them on a circular walk through the trees which they seemed to have enjoyed when I bumped into them later in the afternoon. We recalled days in Blackburn where I used to visit for Asian groceries and little backstreet cafés serving Dahl and chappatis to immigrant workers, my grounding in authentic curries.

A couple from down the road thought we should all get together on Facebook and have organised clean-ups, I ignored that idea but we discussed all things Longridge.

A couple from Blackpool were walking several little dogs, all sensibly on the lead. It turned out they owned a hotel in Blackpool and obviously had done virtually no business in the last year. They were not hopeful for a quick return to business this summer, opening to less than full capacity with all the costly restrictions, having to take staff back on etc and then to find themselves closed again within weeks. That must be a recurring dilemma for the catering and hospitality sector.

I mention that they had their dogs under control as a little further on were two young women with dogs running wild over the fell side. I politely mentioned that all dogs should be on a short lead at this time of year as is clearly signed at all access points. “Nobody told us that” was their response – I suggested they read the notices at the gate where they had come from on their return. They did however put the dogs on leads, at least while I was in view.

As I neared the finish of my round whilst my hands were freezing, did I mention the sleet flurries we had from time to time? I met a hardy soul who had walked up from Longridge, he does it most days. As is usual when we meet we discuss the wildlife that is around, he doesn’t miss a thing. His hope is that when the lockdown eases the hordes that have been parked up on Longridge Fell will disperse and leave us in peace.

I’m not so sure. That’s not very positive is it.

*****

 

LET’S STAY POSITIVE.

Tuesday 30th March. 5 miles. Longridge Fell.

Lockdown eased yesterday but from the pictures of rubbish in the Lake District perhaps for some a few days earlier, I am concerned about our ability to come out of lockdown safely and it is not helped by what I see today.

The hottest day of the year so far as I walk up to the trig point on Longridge Fell. Within yards of the car park I come across litter in the form of bottles and cans, masks and yes, dog poo bags all recently discarded.

It was only last year that barbecues set light to this area, we were lucky the fire brigade dealt with it so quickly and efficiently. When will it happen again?

I became irritated and even more so when I see a lady with four dogs running loose, dogs must be on a leash from March 1st because of ground nesting birds. Calling her she answers that she has badly strained her ankle and is trying to hobble back to the car park. I wonder if she ever had the dogs on lead in the first place, but give her the benefit of the doubt and wish her well getting back.

The top of the fell is reached without further problems apart from deep mud. A charming Japanese man with his daughter and friend are admiring the views, he remarks on the tranquilly of the scene. I have to agree and also enquire how he kept his trainers so clean walking up through the peat bogs.

Onwards into the woods and out onto the path past the grandiose gate to the kennels.

There were two heads bobbing up and down along with the frogs in the small reservoir lower down, the two ladies have swum all winter, today is the first without wetsuits.

As I was walking back up through the plantation I watched a barn owl quartering the open areas, they seem to be a common sight this year.

On the way home I called into a local shop to buy myself a ‘litter picker gadget’ so tomorrow if I venture up the fell, I usually do, I can positively improve the environment. I will pack the litter into a plastic bag and then on the way home I can chuck it over a fence like this lot…

*****

ANNIVERSARY BIRTHDAY PICNIC.

Tuesday,  March 23rd.     9 miles.    Longridge.

My birthday happens to coincide with the date Lockdown commenced last year. There seemed quite a fuss about this [not my birthday], whilst I have every sympathy with the thousands of families affected by Covid deaths and they should not be forgotten, I am not one for lighting candles or creating memorial days for an event we have not dealt with very satisfactorily. I would almost go so far as to say they are devious attempts by the government to distract our attention from the failings and flag wave for our vaccine successes. Dangerous tactics.

Back to today’s walk, which I have completed many times recently, to make an occasion of it I took a picnic with me to enjoy higher up. Last year I visited the limestone quarry  opposite Arbour Farm occasionally for its wildlife so as I pass today I have a look in. There are a couple of roe deer scampering away and a hare following. It’s too soon for any significant flowers but there a few mallards on the water and pheasants taking cover. In the past this area has been used as a shoot and the birds fed in the season. All around are spent shotgun cartridges. I take particular note as I’ve just been reading a DEFRA report of the latest attempts to ban lead ammunition.   Lead ammunition could be phased out under government plans to help protect wildlife and nature, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced today (23 March).  There has been a wealth of evidence that lead is damaging to humans, wildlife and the environment and yet a large amount of lead ammunition is discharged every year. Apart from the yearly slaughter of birds there is research showing wild fowl ingest lead pellets, mistaken for food, causing considerable deaths from poisoning.   The Government have been slow to do anything about it and a voluntary transition by the shooting industry has not worked. A recent review showed the majority of game birds sold to the public had been killed using lead shot. So all change then – well not quite – the Government is proposing a two-year review of the evidence and then public consideration. A typical fudge when the hunting and shooting brigade are involved. Why don’t we just get on and ban it now.  [In Denmark, hunters have had to use alternatives since 1996, when lead shot was banned]

Spring display.

Arbour Quarry.

Moving on I made my way up onto the fell and found a sheltered spot for my simple Birthday picnic in a little quarry nearby.  I have recently started climbing in here again after many years, there is a small wall suitable for bouldering away from the Covid crowds that are making themselves unwelcome at the usual bouldering spot, Craig Y Longridge. It is up here that I have been regularly seeing Barn Owls flying around at dusk. Today a kestrel was hovering not far from me and a pair of Buzzards were wheeling high in the sky. Nice place for a picnic in the sun.

I wander home down the switchback lane. I had various texts etc appear on my phone from absent friends and family and in my porch a box of beer and a single malt. Not such a bad birthday after all.

*****

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO CLIMB LONGRIDGE FELL.

Tuesday 9th March.     11miles.    Longridge Fell.

My last walk, at the weekend with Mike, was through the fields and lanes of Chipping Vale with a little nibble at the west end of Longridge Fell. All very repetitive, so much so I didn’t take a single  photo but the conversation must have been good. A couple of days have been spent festering, you know how it is. Today started slowly until I made the effort to get going and put some mileage under my belt. Starting from home the obvious way to increase my mileage was to continue along the road to the north of Longridge Fell before striking to the top. I noticed a few more roadside signs on the way.

Leaving Longridge.

Lee House Church.

Exquisite carved trough.

?origin.

C17th Thornley Hall.

Entering Chaigley. Note the rake as a notch in the fell side woods.

I did consider going all the way to Higher Hodder Bridge but as I hadn’t set out till 1pm I thought it a little ambitious. [another time] I left the road at Rakefoot Farm and climbed the steep rake from there up onto the fell east of the summit. Once on the ridge I threaded my familiar way through the trees and into the open at the trig point. There was nobody else about. From up here one gets a bird’s eye view of the Thornley road below which I’d walked earlier.

It is all downhill from Jeffrey Hill to Longridge, a good way to end the afternoon.

*****

JEFFREY HILL.

Wednesday.  3rd March.     8.5 miles.    Longridge.

The last couple of days I’ve been out bouldering in all that lovely sunshine.  My arms and shoulders are now rebelling. I felt like a longer walk so planned this one on roads for today. It was grey and cold this morning, so I managed to faff around until after a light lunch, brisk walking was then the order of the day. The road through Thornley doesn’t always have a pavement so dodging from side to side on the corners is necessary. I passed Lord’s Lane and Birks Brow, two regular ways up onto the fell and continued on past Thornley Hall to climb the steep lane up Jeffrey Hill, this part of Longridge Fell. [see inserted map and elevation graph]

Even today there were plenty of cars in the car park by Cardwell House, but they would not have any views as the Bowland Hills were in cloud.

Cutting through Cowley Brook plantation, my latest discovery, avoided a little of the road to the Newdrop. I was then on the switchback road heading down to Longridge. It wasn’t a day for taking pictures or for meeting people so I was soon back home but glad of the exercise.

I wonder if they have published the minutes yet.

The steep bit.

Misty parking at Jeffrey Hill.

Cowley Brook Plantation.

*****

ALL I NEED IS A DOG…

Monday. February 22nd.            Cowley Brook Woodland.

In a post last week I mentioned I’d wandered into Cowley Brook plantation coming off Longridge Fell. I didn’t mention that I had met a friend walking her dog there. She comes regularly to exercise the dog in an enclosed space with no sheep. Apparently others do the same, hence the reason I’d often seen cars parked here. Today I came back, on her recommendation, to explore the area in more detail, that’s the sort of thing I do in lockdown. The land owned by United Utilities has recently had trees cut down and new ones planted. They have opened it up for recreation without any path improvements, just some simple environmental advice.

I choose a newly trodden path through the mature trees alongside the little brook, it took me down the hill and into a more open area.  Most of the newly planted are deciduous but firs are cropping up from seeds in the ground, It was good to see a kestrel hovering overhead.  Keeping  going alongside the water until a gate into a small water catchment area which led to the Old Clitheroe Road. The stream disappears under the road here. I have passed this way many times wondering about access up the stream, deer are a common sight in this valley.  Signs suggested they didn’t want people in the works’ area, maybe I had gone too far.

Pleased with myself for finding this link up I retraced my steps back into the new plantation heading for the top edge where I entered the mature dark forest and made my own path back up the fell. At one point I jumped out of my skin as a hound, Baskerville size, came hurtling through the trees with no sign of an owner. There had been more cars parked when I arrived, so I presume it was from one of those – never to be seen again.

I progressed up the hill towards a fenced off quarry in the felled area. I profess to having prior knowledge here. Years ago when this hole in the ground was surrounded by trees  I would climb the stone wall into these woods and disappear into the hidden quarry for some esoteric bouldering on its dark damp walls. The other day I came across some photos and a guide I had written – it slowly reverted to nature but gave me entertainment and exercise for a couple of years before I moved on elsewhere. Simple joys that have been derived from the outdoors throughout my life. And here I am again peering into its depths.

Picking my way through the new plantation I head back to my car just as my friend appears exercising her dog. She must come most days. We reminisce about past times and friends. Years ago I sold my house to her parents; I hadn’t found another one at the time, so I stayed on in a flat above the garage, the arrangement suited both parties, rumours of ‘ménage à trois’ circulated in the village. The lady I’m talking to today would have been 4 or 5yrs at the time but remembers it well. She is now a talented artist and does a lot of good work with schools, community groups and underprivileged youths. I’ll give her a plug with a photo of her van.

 

 

That hole in the ground.

Distant Pendle.

***

I have not shown my erratic wanderings on the map below, just an outline of the woodland. It will be interesting to see how this woodland haven develops.

I have been back this evening for further exploring.

BLUE SKY DAYS.

Wednesday  10th January.   6.5 miles.    Bleasdale.

Thursday  11th January.  8.5 miles.     Longridge Fell.

Friday  12th January.  7 miles.  Beacon Fell.

You just had to be out these last three days, perfect dry and sunny conditions. I managed three walks and enjoyed blue skies each day on the lanes around Longridge. Below is a snapshot of each day.

For the trip around Bleasdale I met up with Mike and despite the forecast of below zero temperatures there was no wind so it felt almost like a spring day. We extended the walk from Bleasdale Tower to Delph Lane as we were enjoying the conditions so much. I’m glad we did as it gave a sighting of a barn owl flying low in front of us.  The coast looked very near in the clear conditions.

 


***

The next day I had just intended to follow the road loop up onto Longridge Fell, but I couldn’t resist the continuation up to the trig point and into the forest, the usually boggy terrain was frozen solid. The Bowland Hills are virtually clear of snow whereas Pendle looks plastered. On the return I wandered into plantations at Cowley Brook, I had seen cars parked here previously, and I found new leisure tracks opened up by the water board, I will have to visit again for a full exploration.

***

Today I drove a short distance out of town and walked the quiet lanes up to Beacon Fell, there were a few people about near the summit but I virtually had the place to myself. All was still and peaceful. I wonder if we will get any more snow this winter?

***

 

THAT OLD FAVOURITE.

Sunday 7th February.   5.5 miles.   Longridge Fell.

I hadn’t intended to visit the summit trig point, I was in trainers for a gentle stroll around forestry tracks so once I’d left those tracks I ended up with wet feet. I expected more people on top judging from the cars parked up alongside Longridge Fell but found myself alone looking at the cold view across to the Bowland Hills. We have been lucky and avoided the snows in the last few days, although Pendle had a covering.

I had walked along the road from the Crowshaw parking to Kemple End and then up the zigzags of the forest trail. This is the first time I’ve been up here this year and I’d forgotten about the parking problems of lockdown. Mostly I passed dog walkers but also larger groups of ‘youths’ whom I doubt were from the same household or even this locality, they seem oblivious to the lockdown recommendations. Maybe rules would be more appropriate, but I doubt it would make any difference to these people.

Covid parking.

Covid walking.

A new section of forest was being felled alongside a path I often take.

On a more positive note I had an extended chat with a couple and two children from Grimsargh, he was picking up litter and setting a good example to his young family and any walkers who passed. The stretch up from the parking is the worst for cans and wrappers, he draws the line at poo bags. Why don’t I come equipped to do the same on my local walks – food for thought? One shouldn’t always leave it to that other person.

The litter picker extraordinaire.

It was sub-zero temperature as I wound my way back to the car. I had driven 3.5 miles to reach my 5.5 miles walk, that is a bit dubious in my book but at least I had climbed a fell, if only a modest one at 350 m.

Sorry but I couldn’t resist another lone glove photo…

*****

 

 

ALMOST A NOTHING WALK.

Thursday 4th February.  5 Miles.  Longridge.

Halfway up the steep Birk’s Brow lane I stopped for a breath; there was little to see in the murk, my mind had switched off a mile back, I was not even sure why I was there. Had I come to my Covid lockdown impasse? Had the repetition and boredom caught up with me? Was there a way out from this pandemic? I was taken aback by this negativity that had suddenly descended upon me. Was my hope fading? I had imagined I’d been coping well with all the setbacks and heartaches of the last year but was this the reckoning I had to face? Too many questions for which I couldn’t find an answer. I moved on in a cloud of my own making.

Birk’s Brow.

I have mentioned in several posts the poems written on old slates that have appeared around Longridge during these  troubled times. Uplifting themes and thoughts for us all to share. I often wondered who was the artist of these calligraphic verses. Well around the corner a lady pulled up in her car and proceeded to pick up the cracked slate there.  “Do you know ?… are you the person ?…”   I’d stumbled on the originator of all these slate poems. She had started with one and then been encouraged to do more with friends recommending poems. I was overjoyed to speak to the lady.

My day was saved, and I walked on through Longridge with a spring in my step.

 

*****

A BRISK WALK.

Sunday 24th  January.    8 miles.    Knowle Green.

  A hard frost greeted me this morning with little hope of the temperature rising above zero throughout the day.  I decided on a brisk walk around the lanes circling Knowle Green. Up to the New Drop, turn right down to the Knowle Green road, along Greenmoor Lane, back up Preston Road and Tan Yard. It was a grey day with the hills holding on to some of yesterday’s snow. The highlight early on being catching the Highland Cow and her youngster in a better photographic pose. I tried to capture a kestrel in hovering mode. After that I just marched around the circuit to keep warm.

*****

THORNLEY-WITH-WHEATLEY.

                                                                                       Thornley School.

Tuesday. 12th January.    7.5miles.     Longridge

The main road from Longridge to Chipping, which is busier than ever, passes through the small parish of Thornley with Wheatley which you won’t have heard of. It is not a village but merely a scattering of houses and farms. Today’s walk came this way. I’m resigned to those local footpaths that I walked to death in last Spring’s lockdown, but I’m looking for variations. Yesterday it rained continuously, and I didn’t get out of my dressing gown such is the tedium of Covid-19 lockdown that brings inertia on me one or two days a week. But today the sun shone and I had roughly plotted this route the night before which gives a degree of impetus to get up and go.

I leave Longridge along a rather boggy Clay Lane, the snow has gone and the frost is dispersing. Back in the last century there were tile works hereabouts. I was soon across the fields to Gill Bridge over the infant River Loud, today running fast with melt water. I traversed the estate of Blackmoss owned by the Lord Derby family since the C18th. The Derby Arms in is just up the road as is Thornley Hall. Vague paths which I know well crossed over to The Knott farm which is lying empty since the farmer died last year. He was seeped in the land and always seen in his tweed jacket and wellington’s, you could always tell if he was in the local supermarket by a distinct manure odour. He would turn up at my house occasionally with either a tray of 36 eggs or a basket of field mushrooms if they were in season. His sort will be sadly missed.

The empty Knott Farm

I recrossed the Loud and took the little lanes past Wheatley Farm house, 1774, at the base of Longridge Fell. Down the road is Lee House RC church and the old Thornley School which I didn’t visit and wished I had.

Lane to Wheatley.

Wheatley Farm.

Eventually I had to commit to the climb past Dale House and into the woods before coming out onto the golf course above. I was then back on that road leading back to Longridge which I’ve used regularly the last few weeks.

Dale House farm.

Parlick and Fairsnape from the golf course.

Old gate post to Longridge Golf Course established with Preston Cycling Club.

A short diversion was taken to see if I could get a photo of that highland cow with its calf. I managed a better picture of the mother but the infant kept its backside to me. A friend was climbing at Craig y Longridge our local bouldering venue and others were out running up the fell, everyone taking advantage of the sunny weather. An extract from The Lancashire Village Book gives more history here  – http://www.visitoruk.com/Blackburn/thornley-with-wheatley-C592-V28146.html

*****

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

SOME RIBCHESTER LANES.

                                   Icy weather.

Wednesday 6th January.     6.75 miles.      Ribchester.

As I write this the news is as depressing as I’ve known for a long time. Over a thousand deaths in UK from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours and in Washington, USA, Trump attempting to be a dictator by inciting protestors at the Capitol Building.

That’s a shame as it has been a lovely sunny day, and we enjoyed a wander around the quiet roads on the south side of Longridge Fell – one of my local ‘lanes’ walks.

Mike and I met in the empty icy car park of Ribchester Arms which of course is closed. At the start we diverted to have a look at the Stydd Almshouses and the medieval chapel. I have written about these in detail before. Basically we then  walked up Stoneygate Lane onto the fell, along a bit and then back down again on Gallows Lane.  On the way we passed residences old and new reflecting the wealth that must be present in the Ribble Valley.

The Newdrop Inn, for sale.

Huntington Hall. Early C17th.

Dutton Hall.   Early C17th.

Early C20th.

 

More modest late C17th Lower Dutton Cottages.

An unknown old chapel.

On the way we came across this witch who had crash-landed.

‘Don’t drink and fly’

Another spectacular sunset ended the afternoon.

*****

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow.  I’m now  able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.

Thornley Horse Trough.

Wheatley Farm. 1774.

People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.

Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.

*****

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.

Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.

In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….

… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases  nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/

There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.

That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed  metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.

I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.

*****

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****

 

PONIES ON THE FELL.

Tuesday.  November 17th.  5 miles.  Longridge Fell.

What a gift for my ‘a new experience every walk during this lockdown’. Fell ponies welcomed Rod and I to the summit of Longridge Fell. I’ve never seen them up there before and I have no idea where they come from. Three healthy looking, sleek, black ponies. They were used to human presence and searched our pockets for food. It is not a good idea to feed ponies as I believe  they can become ill quickly.

We had arranged to meet on the fell road as we hadn’t seen each other for 6months. A little inventiveness had to be used to get parked amongst all the other lockdown ramblers. I warned Rod in advance to wear boots as everywhere off track is decidedly gloopy. Certainly on the last quarter of a mile from where we had left the forest road it was difficult to stay on solid ground.

The sun shone a little into the Vale of Chipping below us and the Bowland Hills looked – well just like they always look, majestic, if a little hazy. I steered a way through the woods along the ridge avoiding the worst of the mud and the fallen trees. We then made our way back on the solid ground of the main track and caught up with each other’s news, restricted as it is. Home in time for a late lunch before it rained. See you after Christmas Rod? Strange times.

*****

RADHOLME and BROWSHOLME.

Tuesday,  10th November.   6.5 miles.  Browsholme.

My road to Whitewell was closed, so I hurriedly chose another route. I was on the way to complete another interesting looking walk from my bumper book of Bowland Walks by Jack Keighley. I found a different parking spot on the circuit which also meant I avoided some unnecessary climbing in and out of Whitewell. There was no reason to include Whitewell as I’m already well acquainted with it. It was nearly 12noon when I set off across the fields where there are some limestone craglets  and an old limekiln. When my children were small we used to come here for a scramble about. The views of the Bowland hills are not so good today.

The first farm was Radholme Laund. I got chatting to the farmer in the yard, and he told me that at one time Matthew Brown breweries leased it and spread their brewing wastes on the land. Matthew Brown started in Preston in 1830 and moved to Blackburn in 1927. In 1984, they acquired Theakston but were eventually bought out in 1991 by Scottish and Newcastle. I well remember their Lyon Ales and many local pubs were tied to them. Radholme goes back to the Domesday Book and was originally a hunting lodge, Laund usually denotes a deer park.  A large area of Bowland was set aside for deer hunting until farming took over in the C16-17th. The present house was built in the C19th and has an impressive southern facade.

Boggy fields took me down past woods which had lost most of their leaves. Longridge Fell was always in the background. The cattle are now all in their winter quarters [the best place for them did I hear you say?] at Higher Lees Farm.  Then I was in and out of a stream before coming out onto the familiar road at Middle Lees. I crossed the course of the Roman Road and followed the farm lane to the cluster of houses at Lees House. I already knew the awkward path going steeply down to a hidden footbridge over Mill Brook and then steeply up the rough ground on the other side where I disturbed pheasants galore. Sheep pastures were climbed to the barking dogs of Micklehurst. I met the farmer who talked of  Covid-19 and the fate of local pubs. Most of these hill farmers must live an isolated life and yet are happy, nay keen to engage in topical conversations  I missed the path further on and ended up with more road walking than necessary. Until now the day had been bright but I seemed to enter low mist and drizzle and yet behind me Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley were in brightness.

I entered the drive of Browsholme Hall by its elaborate gatehouse but saw nothing of the Jacobean house still occupied by the Parker family who were the ancestral owners since 1507. Most of the land I’ve been walking on today at one time was part of their estate.  I’ve added a photo of the hall courtesy of visitlancashire.com As I made my way went up the fields Pendle came into view, I was heading towards the prominent Browsholme Spire. It is said that its castellated folly was built as a landmark for shooters on the nearby rough fells. It has been adorned with satellite communication dishes in recent years no doubt earning rent from telephone companies. A case of selling one’s soul. On a good day up here the Yorkshire fells are seen but today it was just the rather murky local Bowland Hills. At the bottom of the hill in the trees a sulphur spa is marked on the map, so I searched it out but was disappointed  to find only a boggy spring with the water only faintly tasting of sulphur.

Crossing over that Roman Road once more I took the lane to Crimpton with its seven hand loom upper windows. After the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton for safety. Hence, the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’. I found a seat for a snack looking out over Birkett Fell with Mellor Knoll and the Bowland Hills behind. I knew the next stretch through the forest was muddy and awkward but I couldn’t believe my eyes, most of the trees had been cut down and a machine was clearing up. The operator was able to grab a tree trunk in the machine’s claws, whizz it through stripping the branches and then cut it to length and place in a pile. Unbelievable – lift, strip, chop all in one go.

The day was getting on with all these distractions and I wanted to search out some caves in the limestone on the way back to my car. First was Hell Hole in a fenced off copse. There seemed to be two dangerous open deep shafts and a low cave entrance all connected to the same stream system.

Further on over more barbed wire was Whitewell Cave at the base of a rocky outcrop, a small stream disappeared underground leaving a dry cave entrance that would worth a crawl with a torch. There is another pothole down the road but that will have to wait for some other time.

By now it was almost dark, there was no sunset just a little light out to the coast, but I had only a short distance to go up the road.

Another shortish walk with plenty of new interest for me. I’ve just realised I never saw another walker – a perfect lockdown walk.

 

*****