Category Archives: Longridge Skyline Walk

BEACON FELL FOR LUNCH!

I can see the tree-covered summit of Beacon Fell from home [photo above], only just as new houses spring up. Last night I thought it a good idea to walk from home up to Beacon Fell, have lunch in their excellent cafe and walk home again, The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind.

This is a regular walk and I don’t need a map, which is fortuitous as I didn’t take one.  I rely on my phone for local mapping. This route to Beacon Fell is the one I use for the start of my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  I faffed about this morning with various things, one of which was my camera’s lens cover which keeps getting stuck. WD 40 may not have been the best idea but I tried it and realised that it would take some time to clear itself. So I leave the camera at home and use my phone for pictures.  It was 11am when I left my house and bumped into a neighbour. He is used to my eccentricities and enquired where I was going  – “Beacon Fell for lunch”  “Oh!” was all he could say.

The fields were high in summer growth and at every stile I was faced with a barrier of nettles, brambles, Balsam and that sticky plant. I spent a lot of time bashing down the undergrowth. Shorts were not the best idea.  I was getting nowhere and becoming increasingly hot and sweaty.

Worse was to come when I reached what were previously open fields but now were transformed into parcels of equestrian land, paddocks I suppose, by electric fences. Large fields with footpaths and open access were now a no-go zone.  I was fuming at the lack of thought for us humble walkers. This was more like an obstacle course than a rural wander. After limbo dancing under some live electric fences, I started to become rebellious detaching the wire where I could, they were live! Knowing I was on a Right of Way  I ploughed through, Sir Hugh will understand. The last obstacle to a bridge was dealt with and I was on someone else’s land. On a serious note, I will be reporting this blatant obstruction of footpaths to Lancs County Council once the dust has settled using their excellent MARIO web site.

By the time I reached the fishing lakes at Horns Reservoir I was well behind schedule. I thought of curtailing the day, but no my obstinacy carried me forward. Exiting the field by the narrow Right of Way was impossible but I knew a way around. Later exchanging pleasantries with the landowner I couldn’t come to say “why don’t you clear the footpath?”  Writing this now I feel I should ride out there tomorrow and ask him.

Things improved and I made good progress through well-known fields. Lovely green grass hid a hare which set off at speed when I approached.  I was impressed at a stile where not only was the correct signage clear but there was also a small map showing the Rights of Way in the surrounding area. Brilliant. I can never understand why some farmers make it difficult to cross their land – why not sign the way and be done with us.

So much more helpful than ….A barn at Whinneyclough had some unusual, obviously historic, features and I was caught trying to get some close-up photos. Note the finials on the roof, the covered mullioned window and the dated door. The owner seemed insensible to my curiosity. The nearby farmhouse is also of architectural interest but was out of bounds.

On through the golf course where the trees have matured in the years I’ve been coming here. Nobody seemed to be playing at the moment. There were signs indicating ‘footgolf’ –  whatever next.

The diversion around Fir Trees Farm seems less irritating as the years go by. I still have no faith in the Planning  Authorities who allow it. The brick fronted farmhouse is Grade II listed.

Well trodden paths through Higher Barker and the burgeoning complex at the former  Cross Keys Inn.  When I first moved to this area this was a favourite place to drink, pre breathalysers, with the beer being served in the farm parlour. The way onwards is always boggy, you will be cursing me if following this route. But now Beacon Fell is there above. A couple of awkward fields and then a long traverse of green pasture brings me out on the road at Crombleholme where there is an impressive C17th house, today splendid with its colourful garden.

Up to the fields and into the woods and suddenly I’m in the main carpark of Beacon Fell. There are people everywhere enjoying the summer sunshine. I present myself at the cafe counter sweaty and dishevelled, probably the only person to arrive here under his own steam. The tea and sandwiches are perfect as I sit at one of the outside tables and watch humanity. Curiously I didn’t take any photos, battery running low but this what it was like.

Aa I didn’t visit the summit, it was all downhill to home. Away from the crowds the paths are eerily quiet. Concessionary paths have been established down to Carwags where a quiet road takes you onwards. Views open to Parlick behind and to Pendle and Longridge Fell ahead. by now my phone was running out of juice hence few photos and no map to follow. An even more rural lane with grass down the middle comes out at Loud Higher Bridge.

I follow the infant River Loud through fields some of which may be trespassing, no map remember, but I eventually come out at a deserted Loudscales Farm. I  know the way home from here. up the lane to the road and down to a junction of paths. Take the middle one up to Withinreap Farm, pass the ‘figure of eight’ ponds and arrive at Lancaster Farm where fields lead to Higher House Farm. From here there are more views to Beacon Fell, the Bowland Fells.

The football match down the road is notable for its spectators’ foul language drifting across the town. Welcome home. It is five o’clock when I turn down my road with a knowing nod to that neighbour.

*****

 

 

 

 

A HISTORICAL FOLLOW UP – AROUND WADDINGTON.

A comment from Sir Hugh on my last post, – ‘You seem to have an endless supply of walks full of historical interest.’ made me realise that there is so much history embedded in walking the rural ways of Lancashire. I was intrigued by the part played by Henry VI in the War of the Roses and his subsequent hiding out in our part of Lancashire, the internet giving a version of history at your fingertips. Having been in safekeeping at Bolton Hall, Bolton-by-Bowland he escapes to Waddington Hall. Whilst staying here in 1465 he is betrayed and the Yorkist Talbots from Bashall Hall come after him but he manages to escape down secret stairs only to be caught at the Hipping [Stepping] Stones over the Ribble at Brungerley. He ended up in the Tower of London. So there are quite a few places to visit on today’s walk.

When I parked up on the lane at  Backridge there was mist in the Ribble Valley, Pendle was hiding but the castle in Clitheroe was visible. That was where I was heading and a clear path was discernible through the grass so without any thought or effort I’d arrived at Edisford Bridge and its eponymous Inn.

Tucked away behind a hedge is Edisford Hall of which I was previously unaware and today unable to get a good view of. The hall was apparently the site of a leper colony back in the 13thC. More history denied to the majority, the rich and powerful tend to keep their wealth and property hidden. I cannot deny them their privacy though, an ongoing theme in this post.

Edisford Bridge is medieval and the original ribs can be seen under some of the arches. The inscription on the parapet reminds one of the previous boundaries. The surrounding fields were the scene of a vicious battle [they all were] 900 years ago, but today all was tranquil with holidaymakers enjoying the sunshine on the banks of the Ribble.

I always find the route of the Ribble Way difficult to follow through this edge of Clitheroe. There are open spaces [for how long] but nothing is waymarked, then you are passing old cottages before being sucked into a modern housing estate, the likes of Kingfisher Way and Heron Mews.    Out past allotments the river is gained and followed to Brungerley. Last night’s thunderstorms had put more power into the water at a weir. Across from here one could see on the far bank Waddow Hall, idyllically situated above the river. An old house built in Tudor times by the Tempest family but modified by Jacobean additions.

Further on a family were preparing for a roasting and hijinks in the river just before the bridge – ‘Brits on holiday’. Hottest day of the year?

Brungerley Bridge was built in the early 19th C, It was at the stepping stones here in the past that King Henry VI was captured. A steep stile climbs onto it, now with the obligatory safety rail.

Over the bridge a path is found into the grounds of Waddow Hall, unfortunately it goes round the back of the buildings. Waddow was bought by the Girl Guides Association in 1928 and it keeps its secrets well hidden, but not their exciting climbing tower which I sneaked a blurry picture of, sorry.

Coming out of the grounds a quiet road winds into Waddington 3/4 mile away. I know this village fairly well from eating in the three public houses and wandering around the church. The main street has a stream running down the middle with attractive and well-kept memorial gardens. For a short time in 1990 it became Granada’s “The Television Village” with its own broadcasts from the village hall.

I knew nothing of Waddington Hall, hidden behind high walls in the centre of the village, its origins going back to the 12thC. It was restored in 1901 by the Waddington family. It was here Henry VI attempted to escape from Yorkist followers.

Up the road is a longstanding cafe with an unusual frontage of metal posts, their famous pies were cooling off in the kitchen window – another time.

The prominent church is unusually dedicated to St. Helen. the tower is the oldest part from 1501. Inside there are some intricate wooden details. Nearby are the village stocks.

But by now the Lower Buck Inn was beckoning and I succumbed to a pint of the finest Bowland Brewery’s Blonde Ale. They even allowed me to eat my own sandwiches in the beer garden. This is a great traditional village inn run by the same family for years. Try it sometime, even the dogs have their own brew.

Refreshed I found a hidden path, undoubtedly ancient judging by the clapper bridge, leading out of the village and into open fields with views opening up of Pendle, down to the Ribble Valley at Whalley and round to Longridge Fell. I passed in front of the impressive Colthurst Hall for which I can find no information although there is A King Henry’s Grove nearby on the map.

An old bridleway leaving the road at Braddup House, Whinny Lane, was marked on the map and I decided to follow it up the fell to an area I hadn’t been to for ages. This was at the base of Waddington Fell which I had explored whilst trying to link up paths for my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  It was good to be out in the high country again and I followed that route all the way back to Backridge.

Up here I was surrounded by hills, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell all felt within touching distance, time for a panoramic shot including all three.

On the way back I passed Talbot Bridge with its date stone obliterated by moss and age. 

 

The house above the bridge was originally a pub, The Woolpack giving an idea of the passing trade. Next door a Swiss-like house has appeared since my last visit, very twee.

My next point of call was the more graceful Saddle Bridge, 17thC but rebuilt last century, over Bashall Beck which has come down from Talbot Bridge. This packhorse bridge is also known as Fairy Bridge from a local legend.

Soon I was on a familiar track passing the intriguing Bashall Hall. This extensive building dates from the 16thC but has had many changes since in different stiles. It hides behind high garden walls but I managed a few more views today.  

It was from this house that the Talbots set out to capture King Henry VI. So I’ve come full circle on what has been an outstanding walk for historical interest and the best Lancashire scenery.

*****

 

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

 Last night after a bouldering session at Craig y Longridge I drove up the fell and took in the familiar view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. In front of me were the Fairsnape, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack and Totridge Fells. How many times have I photographed this scene?  I’ve not been on the easterly of these for several years so there and then I decided on a full traverse of the range today. For every 100 visitors to Fairsnape there is probably only one on Totridge.

I can’t explain why I sat in bed with a couple of coffees delaying my departure. Sloth had taken control and it was with a great deal of difficulty that I finally emerged and started the walk at 11am. By then I realised a full traverse and return of 13 miles or so was impractical and I opted for a shorter 9miles from Saddle End, missing out Fairsnape. The heat of the last few days was diminished by a westerly breeze. Old tracks rise up from Saddle End farm and soon the open moor is reached. A steady metronomic pace is tapped out by my walking poles as I gain ground. There is not a soul in sight.

Saddle End Farm and fell.

On the 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and
walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were caught in a blizzard which resulted in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so police and locals searched with BAC loaning a helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy two Mountain Rescue teams were formed in the area, the forerunners of Bowland Pennine MRT.

I mention the above because it is thought the boys may have sheltered in a small stone hut. I remember early walks on Saddle Fell in the 70’s the hut being by the track I’m on today, its roof was almost intact. Now it is a pile of stones but with a tragic history which I recollect every time I pass.
Reaching the wild top of Saddle Fell ignoring the track to Fairsnape I turned east at the watershed to follow the fence towards Totridge seen a couple of miles away. This stretch of fell is usually one of the boggiest in the area, I’ve been pulled out of the depths on one occasion,  deciding which side of the fence is the least hazardous often means crossing repeatedly without any real advantage. Today however the peaty ground was bone dry and I could just enjoy the scenery without any risk of sinking, the wooden poles placed to give buoyancy in wet conditions totally unneeded. [By the way the best ‘path’ is on the left of the fence.]

The views are far stretching over the Bowland area and all the hills and valleys I’ve been walking recently are identifiable. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are in the hazy background. Difficult to capture on camera.

Up here in this bleak wilderness one plant brightened up the peat bogs – the yellow starry flowered Bog Asphodel.

All I had to do was follow the fence, there is one pond to navigate found and a short section above Whitmore where you leave the fence at a tangent and take off into the peat to regain a wall in a short distance before rising onto Totridge and a final open track to the trig point at 496m. The trig pillar is looking decidedly unstable as the peat below it erodes, it will topple before long.

From the top a small path, not marked on the map, heads NE to drop steeply off the fell towards Mellor Knoll. If the correct line is taken zigzags descend quite pleasantly, not so pleasant ascending.  Halfway down today I found a place to sit, eat my sandwiches and contemplate the views over the Dunsop and Hodder valleys. In the distance over Mellor Knoll was a glimpse of Stocks Reservoir I walked around last week and closer at hand, above the Hodder, the tree capped Birkett Fell again climbed recently.

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

I dropped down to the fell wall and joined the bridleway coming from Hareden which goes into woods of beech and chestnut where I met the first people of the day, three gents enjoying the area.

My way back was on a series of bridleways and paths linking remote farms in the limestone country below the fells. Higher Fence Wood, Dinkling Green and Lickhurst. From the latter the track went further back up into the fells than I remember and I speeded up a little as bad weather was coming in.

Lickhurst Farm.

I used to cycle these ways when my children were getting into mountain biking, I don’t remember these stepping stones by a ford below Burnslack.

I arrived back at the car just as the rain did, my dilatory start almost catching me out.

*****

 

BIRKETT FELL, A BOWLAND JEWEL.

 I can see tree-covered Kitcham Hill on Birkett Fell from my kitchen window, not many people visit it so when Sir Hugh fancied a walk in Bowland I suggested it with a caveat of possible difficult terrain. As a SAS induction course the day went well  – gentle stroll, steady ascent, demanding ascent, open warfare, wire entanglements, jungle terrain, interrogation, trespassing, orienteering, bullfighting and more Jungle warfare. That’s a breeze compared to the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Silver aspirants out on the hill at the same time.

It wasn’t meant to be like this, I’d had a hard day previously on Middle Knoll up the road. Today’s hill was lower and there was only a bit of rough ground to reach its summit, after that it would be good footpaths.

The stroll by the Hodder was as pleasant as always.

The path alongside Fielding Clough was much drier than usual and then we branched off into tussocky reedy ground and steadily made our way up Birkett Fell and into the trees on Kitcham Hill, 283m.

I had previously made a cairn of a few stones at the summit on my LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK, LSW and I was pleased to find them. We admired the view down to the Fylde and the twisted pine and beech trees around the summit.

Open ground gave easier walking to the plantations but this was deceptive as there has been much wind damage that has caused problems accessing the woods.  One of my markers for the LSW was visible on a fallen tree. We had fun getting through wire fencing on the edge of the plantation, this is not a public footpath but soon we were on one going through the woods but it was not much better because of the fallen trees.

I remember vaguely some diversions around Crimpton Farm from previous visits and think I wrote to the appropriate authority to complain. Today the farmer was digging ditches and was keen to bemoan all his problems to us. We escaped and walked through his ‘forbidden’ farmyard wondering how planning permission had been given for an incongruous porch on a Grade 2 listed building below the mullioned loom windows. There is more history to this property –  after the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton farm for safety and hence the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’.

The below picture shows Crimpton Farm with its unnecessarily long alternative route in red, we stuck to the ROW in blue.

 

We emerged using the existing ‘right of way’ onto the roller coaster of a road heading to Newton. Our views of the three peaks were obscured by low cloud. Lunch was taken in a farm yard with another encounter with an only mildly grumpy farmer.

Now on a FP what could go wrong – well we managed to lose it and spent half an hour staggering through reeds in difficult terrain. At the bottom of the field our correct path made an appearance and then disappeared again, however after we crossed the stream a better path headed towards the busy Birkett Farms. Before we reached them we came across a sheep who had pushed its head through a gate and become trapped by its horns. Some complex manoeuvres were needed to free it. In the same field was a large bull I was keen to avoid.

The day seemed to be ticking away by the time we joined the good lane to Knowlmere Manor with its many chimneys. Delightful countryside, made better in the sunnier pm, above the Hodder took us back to Dunsop Bridge where we had a final battle with vegetation.

I felt I had to treat Sir Hugh to a drink in the Puddleducks Cafe.

*****

DUNSOP VALLEY AND BURN FELL, ANOTHER BOWLAND TOP.

Burn Fell seen on the approach along the Hodder Valley to Dunsop Bridge.

On the 2nd of January 1945, just before I was born, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an American heavy bomber crashed on Burn Fell. The aircraft was being ferried from Seething in Norfolk to Warton near Preston, most of the passengers were a second aircrew who were going to fly another aircraft back to Seething. The crew had become disorientated in low cloud and snow showers, they obtained a radio fix on Warton and the pilot turned onto the appropriate heading to get to Warton and while flying at just 1500ft the aircraft flew into the top of Burn Fell, slewed round demolishing a stone wall and bursting into flames. Most of the aircraft was reduced to ashes, fortunately of the 19 aircrew onboard 15 of them survived the crash and subsequent fire. People from farms below the crash site came to rescue the surviors from the snowy hillside with makeshift stretchers and human strength.

I  passed the site of this disaster on today’s walk in Bowland.

A bright sunny morning and I was parked up in Dunsop Bridge before most people had stirred. The walk up into the Dunsop Valley is familiar and the water board road gives access to both the Brennand and Whitendale valleys, with the hill of Middle Knoll [not to be confused with nearby Mellor Knoll] between them. Where the roads split there is a small footbridge across the river which takes you onto a track up into Whitendale above the water.

Middle Knoll.

At Costy Clough the track gives way to a narrow path, This is delightful walking with the hills beckoning ahead whilst the water tumbles below. The farm at Whitendale comes into view, part of the royal Dutchy Estate. By now I was in fairly remote hill country and using trods through the heather, A sign post erected by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society showed my options just above Whitendale Farm. I’ve never quiet known who they are. From this area I had a view to the southern face of Middle Knoll and was surprised to see how steep and rocky it looked.The lambs around here looked almost new born, very unsteady on their legs. A zig zagging track started to climb out of the valley onto Dunsop Fell, mainly to visit some shooting butts, but it gave me an easy way up to the watershed especially as the peat was less squelchy than usual. Suddenly there were people ahead of me, I caught them up at the top as they took in the views. A family group from Wigan who seemed to know the area well. Oh and here is another one of those signs.Where the three went down I contoured and found a path of sorts leading to the trig point on Burn Fell, 431m. Over to the east were the Three Peaks, Yorkshire’s finest. Below was Stocks Reservioir, Waddington Fell with its mast and behind that the big end of Pendle. I followed the wall past the trig with Totridge Fell ahead and the Hodder Valley stretching out towards Longridge Fell, these Bowland Fells group themselves closely together, I could clearly see the line of my Longridge Skyline Walk coming off Totridge Fell, over Mellor Knoll down to the Hodder. over Birkett Fell to Waddington Fell before dropping down to recross the Hodder and finish over Longridge Fell.

Over to Yorkshire with Stocks Reservoir.

A few 100 m past the summit I came across the remains of the B-24, bits of molten metal and glass. A cross has been erected and there is a stone memorial to the four airmen who lost their lives.

A track of sorts through the boggy heather slowly brought me off the fell and down a grassy rake towards Beatrix Farm. It was here that I started to encounter boxes/tunnels designed to trap stoats etc. as I neared pheasant breading copses. Inside each box was a strong spingloaded trap. I’m not sure of the legality of these traps as any prey would suffer a horrible death. The remains of a ?rabbit in one showed that they are not regularly checked. It was surprisingly how vicious they were when a stone was accidentally dropped onto a trap, or even several, or as many as I could find. Mea culpra.

A lane down into Dunsop Bridge gave easy walking after the rough stuff on the fells. Bluebell woods welcomed me into the hamlet at the centre of the Isles. Cups of tea at the cafe beckoned before my drive home. Today I had seen or heard wagtails, skylarks, oyster catchers, cuckoos, curlews, buzzards and whilst getting into the car a dipper on the stream below.*****

 

 

 

 

 

MELLOR KNOLL AND THE HODDER.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll from Burholme Bridge at the start of the walk.

Mellor Knoll is a 344m lump in Bowland, I didn’t actually climb it but I came close.

I was in my dormouse mode this morning and stayed in bed with my second coffee looking at maps whilst the day warmed up. Eventually, I stirred and drove out to park at Burholme Bridge on the River Hodder. Early morning cyclists were already returning from their Trough of Bowland circuit, a popular ride with Lancashire cyclists: one of the most prominent I met later in the day. I last cycled it 5 years ago.

A quiet lane leads up into the limestone area of Bowland with its Reef Knolls and caves.  A footpath brought me onto the farm track to Whitmore, a lonely farm at the base of Totridge Fell. In the past there were free-range hens wandering about although today the scattered wooden hen-houses looked deserted.

 

Welcoming committee.

A bridleway takes off towards the woods on a track that was always muddy but tree felling has opened up the landscape and things are improved. This bridleway cuts through between the cone of Mellor Knoll and the parent fell of Totridge. Contouring the hillside was a joy with bluebells and fresh green beech leaves; views down to the snaking Hodder and the little known Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle; towering above me was Totridge Fell with stone walls going straight up the steep slopes.

With all this excitement I wandered off course at the col and was heading the wrong way into Hareden Valley, it wouldn’t have mattered on this open ground but I traversed back to the correct track. Up here the hardy sheep only seem to have one lamb as opposed to their lowland softies with twins and triplets. Oh and this is how to mend a wall…

I was now looking down on the farms of Hareden with the Trough of Bowland in the background. The hounds at the farm always give you a greeting long before you arrive.

Crossing Hareden Brook [dippers were seen] and then Langden Brook brought me onto a short stretch of The Trough of Bowland road.

Looking up the ‘Trough’ road.

I followed this for a short way before I could continue across fields to the water board road following the River Dunsop past cottages to the hamlet.

I’m sure these weren’t designed for outdoor seating.

Mellor Knoll above the new houses in Dunsop Bridge.

This is a popular walking area and lots of families were out enjoying the sunny weather and the delights of Dunsop Bridge hamlet – often cited as the geographic centre of Great Britain, although different measurements give different results. I passed the BT phone box which celebrates this fact.

A line of tall pines leads to Thornyholme Hall and farm over a bridge on the Hodder. The last time I passed here in 2013 a chain saw artist was just beginning rendering a stump into a statue of the thinking man and the results were seen today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lovely stretch along the River Hodder, ducks and their ducklings were swimming by the bridge and further on I watched sand martins going back and forth to their holes in a sandbank. If you click and enlarge the photo I actually caught some of them in flight and at the nest entrances. It was on this stretch I met an elderly couple walking towards me on a short river ramble, somehow the conversation turned to cycling and it transpired that the 80yr old gent was Dave Brown. He had been a prominent racing cyclist with impressive time trial results over all distances, only retiring after he had passed 70yrs. https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/3829912.east-lancashire-cyclist-retires-after-53-years/  He told me he had written a weekly cycling column in the Lancashire Telegraph for 40 years until they recently decided to scrap it!  We swapped tales of cycling in the past, what a lovely chance encounter.

Soon I was back at Burholme Bridge having completed an interesting, if modest, 7 mile circuit feeling privileged to be living within this beautiful Bowland area.

 

*****

 

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 4 – A sunny Longridge Fell.

Longridge Fell from the south, Kemple End is the steep bit at the right.

Higher Hodder Bridge to Longridge.

JD and I are sat in the bus station at Clitheroe waiting for the Skipton bus to arrive with the pieman on board. The alloted time passes and we wonder if we are in the right place, we circle the area in our car but no sign of him or the bus. The phone call elicits that the bus broke down! We look at each other and as the day is dismal and I lack enthusiasm we drive home  for other pastimes,  ie gardening.

Fast forward 24 hours and we are sat in Clitheroe bus station once again. I must admit the weather was far better today so we hoped the pieman would arrive. He did and within 10 minutes we are parked up at Higher Hodder Bridge at the base of Kemple End, the east end of Longridge Fell. After a stretch by the Hodder we start a fairly easy zigzag ascent of the fell. Behind us were views across the Ribble Valley to Pendle and Waddington Fell. We emerged at the road and stripped down to shirts for the rest of the 1000ft ascent in increasing temperatures.

Higher Hodder Bridge.

Climbing Kemple End, Pendle in the background.

Layers coming off.

A mixture of tracks and paths through the forest where there has been a lot of clearances of late, a magic route opened up in front of us. The lighting seemed to transport us to some alpine approach but there were no snowy peaks above. Familiar tracks head up the fell though in some places wind damaged trees create diversions. We came out of the trees at a well known viewpoint overlooking Bowland, the Three Yorkshire Peaks were in haze.

Magic light amongst the trees.

There is a way through.

More uprooted trees.

That viewpoint.

Our guest from Yorkshire is impressed by the scenery and we eventually arrive at Spire Hill the summit of Longridge Fell at 350m. At the trig point is a man talking on short wave radio as part of the Summits on the Air scheme.  He was mainly concerned with radioing his position although he requested a summit photo. Listening in to his pointless conversation with some unknown person made me think why we climb summits. We were sweating from our exertion, ready for lunch, breathing in the air and enjoying the situation and views particulrly of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. It takes all sorts.

Radio ham.

Well deserved lunch with a little Brexit chat.

We had been climbing steadily all morning but from now it was gently downhill. The view over the Fylde was rather hazy but the sunshine became warmer as the day wore on. There was some unavoidable road walking past the golf club. This now popular venue had humble beginnings as a 9 hole course which was amalgamated with Preston Cycling Club at the beginning of the 20th century. They built an early clubhouse shared with the golfers and as time passed the golf developed and the cyclists moved elsewhere but the badge still remembers the joint beginnings.

Heading down with Parlick and Fairsnape in the distance.

When it all started.

Present day signage.

We took to fields again and entered Longridge via the old railway line used by the stone quarries. We had spent the whole time walking Longridge Fell, about 7miles as the crow flies, hence its name. Cutting through the streets we completed our house to house route from Skipton. Well that’s another of my straight lines accomplished and very enjoyable it has been; beautiful varied scenery, interesting history and good companionship with enough exercise on each occasion to fill a winter’s day. But now Spring is upon us thoughts drift to wider horizons.

*****

A MISTY BEACON FELL.

Normally I can see Beacon Fell from my house – but not this morning. A freezing mist hung over the landscape. Not to be deterred I wanted to walk up there and back, in deference to the weather and my late start I took the car some part way. I know these footpaths well as I often do this walk or a variation, it is in fact the first section of my Longridge Skyline Walk.

The snow was disappearing from the fields as I set off. Soon I was walking through the first of several developments where an original farmhouse with its surrounding barns has morphed into an expensive looking ‘hamlet’. This one is based around Higher Barker.

Familiar field paths [I didn’t need a map today] lead to the Cross Keys Inn where holiday type units have been built around the site, none ready for occupation in what is a speculative development. The Cross Keys was a farm-cum-basic pub run by brothers and known affectionately and ironically by locals as The Dorchester. What of its future?

The lane ahead is always soggy and today was no exception. I could hear a woodpecker in the trees of Whitechapel.

The sun was trying to break through the mist as I crossed fields to Crombleholme Fold another group of houses old and new. The sheep were surprised to see me emerging from the gloom.

Still no view of Beacon Fell which I knew was looming up above me.  The trees were soon reached and as I entered them a small herd of Roe Deer passed in front of me seconds after taking this picture.

The car park at the visitor centre was virtually empty and I was the only one in the cafe where I enjoyed a good coffee. To reach the summit I followed the latest version of the walking snake, this one is expertly crafted from stone so should be more durable than the previous wooden sculpture.

I had the summit to myself with tantalising glimpses of Parlick and Fairsnape Fells through the mists.

A newish path, there are many since the storms of last year, and a concessionary bridleway through deciduos plantings took me out of the park.

A field footpath led me down to the fishing lake/holiday homes of Woodfold, another development which seems to be enlarging every time I pass this way. Do these places go under the planning radar?

My next aim was Barnsfold Farm environs where more sympathetic conversions were carried out decades ago.

Then it was muddy fields to Bullsnape Hall and back to my car just as the sun finally burst through. The final stile was a challenge.

An enjoyable day from nothing.

*****

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.

 

I have to climb a steep hill!

The balding Kemple End of Longridge Fell.

The balding Kemple End of Longridge Fell.

An early morning phone call – “I have to climb a steep hill!“, not exactly an emergency but  it needed a response. My friend Mark seems to be having problems with his back and hips [aren’t we all] and was under the orders of his physio.

“OK, see you soon”  was my response trying to think of a suitable steep hill. If you have ever cycled up Kemple End you will agree it is steep, and gets steeper. As a coincidence today is the start of the Tour de France and there seemed to be loads of cyclists on the roads. In a hour or so we are parked near Higher Hodder Bridge at the bottom of the said hill. Mark was pleased with his progress up the incline. Near the top we left the road on a public footpath into the fields to visit an ancient cross and recover our breath.   A quick look into Kemple End  where we have climbed together in the past and then we threaded our way down fields to reach the River Ribble.  I am reminded of my Longridge Skyline Walk which comes up this way towards it’s end after 40 hard miles.  Also every time I cross this creaky footbridge I think of my, sadly departed, climbing friend Pete, the bridge engineer extraordinary.   A short walk by the river brought us back to Higher Hodder bridge.

We talked of mice and men and arranged to meet up soon for a climb providing his physio agrees.

As I post this the sun is breaking through the mist on Longridge Fell promising a lovely morning up at Kemple.

BEACON FELL BIVI.

  BEACON FELL WITH THE BOWLAND HILLS BEHIND.

After my last post about rain the summer-like weather has been around for a few days and I was tempted out bouldering one afternoon which left me with an extremely sore left big toe. So back on my cycle for a few short rides but I felt the need to get into the hills. Was tied up most of Saturday until tea time, but then a quickly packed sac with basic bivi equipment saw me strolling out of Longridge at 6pm.

I planned to follow the first stage of my Longridge Skyline Walk [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/longridge-skyline-walk/] and spend the night somewhere on Beacon Fell. What a beautiful warm evening as I walked through fields with lapwings tumbling overhead. The May blossom in the hedgerow was at it’s best.

Cattle were out enjoying the rich grass and were being a general inquisitive nuisance, charging about, one just has to be aware of any possible danger. The sheep and playful lambs were easier to share a field with.

Onwards through Goosnargh Golf Club with the fairways in prime condition. Further on the building work on the old Cross Keys Inn seems to have come to  a standstill. inside is a surreal builders’ dining table. Made me think ‘Hotel California’ somehow!

More troublesome cattle accompanied me up the fields into the woods of Beacon Fell. A few families were about in the car park but the cafe was closed. I had planned to arrive at the summit for sunset but cloud spoiled the scene.

A new owl sculpture has been installed in place of the ‘hanging bat’ and I stumbled upon  a wooden carving of a crocodile to complete my collection of Beacon Fell sculptures.         [https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/beacon-fell-views-and-sculptures/ ]

As dusk fell I found myself a comfy bivi spot with views of the Bowland Fells.

Roe deer were wandering about and barked noisily for a while, obviously I was on their territory. Sitting there I was treated to a spectacular low flight of a Barn Owl looking for prey – spellbinding. And then the bats started there rapid flypast.    Sweet dreams.  I awoke at 5am as the sun came up but managed to doze off till 6.30, so I was away to a leisurely start by 7am.

My plan was to walk down the valley of the River Brock for a few miles. Bluebells and wild garlic abounded  in the shade.

 

I was impressed by the depth that the small river has carved for itself over the centuries. This is Dipper and Wagtail territory. The path was in a poor state boggy an eroded so progress was slow. Nothing much else stirred until I came across the tents of D of E teenagers near Waddecar Scout Camp, they were just stirring!

Soon I was at Brock Bottoms where a few early dog walkers were out. This area has been tarted up with graveled paths etc. I just remember days with my kids hopping down the river and exploring the ruins of one of the many water mills. Now the ruins seem smaller with no sign of the wheel or any millstones.

Once out of the valley at Walmsley Bridge I followed field paths to emerge at the delightful thatched, old farmhouse of Scotch Green, I do wonder about the derivation of these names but there was nobody about to ask.

A rest stop at the village cross of Inglewhite was prolonged by a chance meeting of an old friend out walking her dog. The  pub was closed for restoration, hopefully it will still have a bar for the locals who would keep it alive. The local chapel seemed to have a sizable congregation. On a wall was one of the old AA information plates – remember these.

Onwards down an old bridleway and ford, now bridged for safety reasons, into Goosnargh and back home for lunch! 

That’s how I recharge my batteries and connect with the land in this beautiful area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A DAY TRIP TO SPAIN!

Jet2ing away.

I was out several days at the end of April walking with a pack to try and achieve some fitness for a further trip along the GR7 in Spain. I am hoping to finish the route this year. After May it gets too hot in Spain for comfortable walking. So last week my son dropped me off at Manchester airport [he only lives 10 mins away] for an early morning Jet2 flight to Alicante.

I have to say flying with Jet2 is far more pleasurable than with some other well known cheap airlines. Friendly staff, sensible boarding routine and good leg room. As usual the plane was full of noisy stag and hen parties on their way to Benidorm, they drank the plane dry! My sympathies go out to the air hostesses who have to cope with this crowd, but I do wonder about the wisdom of all the commercially driven alcohol sales in the airport and on the plane. I was mentally comparing my imminent trip into the mountains with theirs into the clubs.

We arrived on schedule, thankfully no trumpets, and I caught the cheap bus into town. It stops at the train station so I bought my rail ticket for the afternoon train to Xativa.

Wandered into the town to a useful climbing shop I know  to buy some gas for my stove. [www.elrefugiodeportes.com]  Then found a cafe for lunch and realised I wasn’t feeling too good, hot and flushed with a racing pulse. I hadn’t been rushing around so couldn’t explain why my pulse wouldn’t go below 100. Returned to the station and sat outside, but my pulse wouldn’t come down. When the the departure time came I decided against traveling to the interior.   What to to do next?  Stay in Alicante for the night and possibly have to seek medical advice or get back to England. Jumped onto the airport bus and was soon buying an expensive ticket back to Manchester! Fortunately there was an evening flight. My pulse eventually returned to normal. The new terminus at Alicante is quite comfortable for waiting around in.

Alicante Airport

Alicante Airport

Landed in Manchester at 9pm and returned to my bemused son’s house. Quite a day really – but one I could have done without. Back to square one and apparently no worse for wear.

To get back to an outdoor theme it was a lovely bank holiday weekend, who needs to go to Spain. At a loose end, and with the garden up to scratch, I did some local walks through the fields which are starting to green up.

Longridge Fell with Pendle behind.

Longridge Fell with Pendle behind.

I always find something to complain about on these local walks – not the scenery or the wildlife – usually the abuse of the environment by persons unknown.

Quite a collection.

Quite a collection.

With the weather being so dry and warm I couldn’t resist some bouldering despite my painful toe. I thought a short session would do me no harm. So had a trip up to Kemple End quarry for some morning sunshine, actually very warm on Bank Holiday Monday. The rock was in perfect condition for some traversing and easy soloing – felt much better for that.  ‘Feeding the rat’  if you know the connection.

Bit of a mixed post but next week off to Scotland so should be more interesting.

BOWLAND HISTORIC RAMBLE AND RANT.

Sunny Wednesday was a day made for the hills. After several dull and damp days recently, often spent laboriously at a climbing wall, it was good to be driving out to Bowland. I parked in the small village of Dunsop Bridge, which has been designated as at the centre of the Great Britain. The 100,000th BT phone box, on the green, proclaims this. Parking is now pay and display but £1 for 4hours didn’t seem extortionist, and Ribble Valley Borough Council seem to be keeping the place tidy. I do however feel these pay and display machines seem out of place in countryside car parks. They are everywhere now and I’m not sure what one does if needing an overnight stay for an extended camping trip.

 

The walk I set off on today is partly one of the sections of my Longridge Skyline Walk, see previous posts, leading out of the Hodder Valley over the little trodden Kitcham Hill on Birkett Fell..

Crossing the Hodder by a bridge brings you to the houses of Thorneyholme opposite where the river Dunsop joins the Hodder. A delightful stroll south by the river soon had me in good spirits with clear views over to Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll. Despite the ground frost the ground was still fairly boggy.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll across the Hodder.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll across the Hodder.

Soon I was climbing alongside a beck in Fielding Clough above Burholme, despite the low air temperature I was soon sweating in the sunshine. The rough climb in heather, up alongside the wall, onto Kitcham Hill [283m] made things worse and I was glad of a break at the top to admire the 360degree views and get my breath back. The top is marked with a few stones near a stunted lone pine. I always enjoy time spent up here enjoying the peace and wandering in the pine and beech trees surrounding the summit. Today a pair of buzzards were crying and circling above me. Ingleborough and Penyghent were just visible in the haze to the north.

From the hill top I went south on rough ground, this whole area is access land created under the 2000 CRoW act, see the latest OS maps for areas covered. As one reaches the plantation to the south the access land finishes 200m before a public right of way/footpath. This is one of the annoying anomalies of some areas of access land – you end up trespassing to get out of them! Not that worries me as I end up climbing walls to reach the footpath into the plantation. Already, though, because of this problem I feel a little annoyed. Will write to Ribble Valley about it.

Looking back to Kitcham Hill.

 Once onto the public footpath things get worse, there have been a lot of trees blown down, presumably this last winter, making the path almost impossible to follow by most people. My climbing skills were needed to force a way through. Another letter to the Ribble Valley.

Jungle

Jungle

Once through, at great risk to my appendages, there is a lovely stretch across open hillside with views to the north. I was now approaching Crimpton Farm and was confronted with signs suggesting a rather lengthy, muddy, diversion around the premises but in small print stating that the right of way still existed onto the lane through the ‘farm’. Now I knew this property was of historic and architectural interest and used the right of way to look at it.      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’. Apparently there is also a sulphur spa here with miraculous healing powers so the locality has historic importance. As well the building is grade 2 listed with interesting seven hand loom weaving windows.  I ask why a diversion is being suggested, apparently with official approval, away from this important house. A third letter to Ribble Valley!!

  I would ask that anyone else following this public right of way ignores any suggestion of diversion and writes to the authorities in protest. John Dixon in his excellent Aussteiger Guide book to Bowland is of the same persuasion. Such was my anguish that I forgot to photo the interesting house and the parked up obligatory Range Rover! While on my high horse how did they get planning permission for the ‘porch’  extension on  a GRADE 2 LISTED BUILDING.  I have little faith in the planning authorities.

Crimpton John Dixon

Crimpton        John Dixon

Progressing onto the old Roman road  across Marl Hill I took off to the left on a wild path down to Birkett Farm and down to Giddy Bridge over the brook. What was the purpose of the stone projections on either side below the bridge?

Giddy Bridge

Giddy Bridge

 Now I  was able to follow a well signed concessionary path through the grounds of Knowlmere Manor  [a contrast to the restrictions at Crimpton].  Try counting the chimneys on the manor….

Knowlmere manor

Knowlmere Manor

Onwards in the sunshine brought me above the Hodder River back to Thorneyholme where I came across a chain saw massacarer [artist]  working on a tree stump to create a Rodin masterpiece. A lengthy chat ensured about art, recession, medicine and the state of the world. This bloke is very talented.

Masterpiece in the making.

Masterpiece in the making.

Back through the tall Wellington Pine avenue  gets me to the car within the 4hour, £1, fee!!  It shouldn’t have to be like this.  A day of stunning scenery and spring weather to hopefully come. But there  are some sour tastes left regarding access. I’ll get over it.

LONGRIDGE FELL _ ON MY DOORSTEP.

Sunday. What a beautiful day dawned  – cold, clear and sunny. Perfect for walking. Hadn’t arranged anything with my walking mates so after a lengthy caffeine top up I decided on a full traverse of Longridge Fell. Able to do this from my doorstep! This is the definitive full crossing of the fell starting in Longridge itself. The route I did today includes parts of previous posted walks and is the last leg of The Longridge Skyline Walk in reverse.  [see posts – Tolkien Country.  Crosses, Stoneyhurst and the Hodder.   Fungi on the fell.  Longridge Skyline Walk.]

Set off up the road out of Longridge past the golf course for a couple of miles to the parking spot at Cardwell House. Here took to the fell on a path way marked with small stone pillars.

Onto Longridge fell

Onto Longridge fell

This traverses nicely above the Thornley Valley and then rises gently to the wall leading up to Longridge Fell trig point.. Several people were already up there admiring the views – wish I had been up earlier as the Three Peaks were in good clear visibility then.

Longridge Fell

Longridge Fell Trig. in the distance.

From the trig point the way goes along a forest road and then dives into the woods on a clear path.

localviews 070

This path continues along the ridge meeting up with the forest road further on and then arrives at Sam’s View Point overlooking the Hodder Valley and the Bowland Hills.

Carrying on along the ridge you enter forest again on a muddy path with no views, today was eerily quiet.

localviews 075

Towards the end of this section there is a large area where the trees have been felled and already after a couple of years thousands of natural pine seedlings have sprung up like a miniature bonsai forest.

The path continues clearly down the ridge to emerge onto the road at Kemple End with it’s views of Clitheroe and Pendle. The gate way onto the road has had it’s metal gate stolen, as have several others in the area, presumably for scrap.   To complete the traverse I walked down the road to Higher Hodder bridge at the base of the fell. From here one can make your way back in fields either north or south of the fell. Today I chose the latter and walked through the grounds of Stonyhurst College and into Hurst Green.

Spring is in the air.

Spring is in the air.

Called in at The Bayley Arms for a pint and a rest before dropping down an old lane to the delightful Dean Brook. The presence of at least two old bobbin mills bear witness to the cottage-industry that was once here.

The path goes over an old bridge and up a bridal way to the 17 th century Greengore hunting lodge with its abutments and camping barn.

  Soon the road on the fell is reached and access to a lane leading back up onto Longridge Fell. There was an interesting photo as I reached the top road.

localviews 117

Maybe the farmers don’t know the difference between beef and horse!!! Topical problem in the news at present.  From here  it is all downhill to Longridge itself and completed a rewarding traverse of  Longridge Fell.  On the way down a tree is passed that gives an idea  of the prevailing winds.

It’s tough up north

LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK.

Today was cold but sunny so there was no excuse not to get out in the countryside. All the snow from last weekend had disappeared, though this morning’s frost had firmed up the fields.

There have been some recent footpath diversions north of Longridge and these were affecting a route of mine, The Longridge Skyline Walk. I therefore took the opportunity to walk some of these paths to update my route description.

Parlick with Fairsnape brooding in the background.
      Parlick with Fairsnape brooding in the background.
Having brought my route description up to date I felt it was time to re-publicise this excellent route. I would love to see one of you keen fell walkers complete the circuit in a day! Here is my original, rather lengthy article………
                             LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK.
 Standing anywhere in the Loud Valley [The Vale of Chipping] north of Longridge one is aware of the beautiful surrounding scenery. Out to the west is space towards the coast but the remaining skyline consists of hills. Starting in the northwest is the well known Beacon Fell, and going clockwise around the horizon are Parlick, Fairsnape, Totridge, Birkett, Waddington and Longridge Fells. You will notice that these hills are all named using the northern word Fell, it is an interesting fact that Longridge Fell is the most southerly named fell in Britain.
Skyline and horseshoe walks have a fascination and draw for fell walkers, think of the many well known examples in our mountainous regions. They are usually fairly obvious in conception and provide a ready made visual and physical challenge. So it was for me, for many years living within sight of this round, and I have taken up its challenge on several occasions in the past, from the 70’s onwards. I soon realised the beauty, variety, relative isolation and rewarding views this walk provides.
However there was always a problem with my rounds, I was often trespassing!  Large tracts of the moorland areas in the east were private, often with shooting interests, with limited rights of way. So the walk was for private consumption only, but always very satisfying allowing one  knowledge of these ’hidden secrets’ of our northern hills.
However times change and with the implementation of the CRoW act nearly all the walk was either on Public Rights of Way or the newly created Access Areas. With the publication of O.S.maps showing the newly opened areas I was able to revisit more freely some areas of the walk and realised that a challenging circuit was now more feasible in design and description, if still no easier in physical execution.
Thus the 60Km / 37.5miles Longridge Skyline Walk  [LSW] was reborn.
Much of the Forest of Bowland is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and rightly so. Hence many areas are well known to walkers and country lovers alike, but you will find following this round many new corners to be enthralled by and whole areas of rough fell rarely walked in the last few decades. When were you last on Kitcham Hill or Waddington Fell?
Bowland’s diverse landscape – heather moorland, blanket bogs, wooded valleys and lowland farms – make not only for interesting walking but also provide a rich habitat for flora and fauna. The area is nationally renowned for its upland birds, so providing one with an opportunity of sighting many species on the walk. Red Grouse, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Short Eared Owl, Ring Ouzel, Redshank, Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrel and the Hen Harrier. The latter has become the symbol of The Forest of Bowland. Take a small pair of binoculars.
By the nature of the ground to be covered, this walk should not be undertaken lightly, access land in the AONB offers some of the roughest and most remote walking in Lancashire. A sound experience of rough fell walking and the relevant navigational  skills are needed. Several miles are trackless and heavy going in the peat bogs. These areas are particularly difficult in the wetter months and are possibly best avoided at those times, not only for your progress but to lessen damage to the fragile terrain. Clear weather is a must really to help with navigation and to enable you to fully enjoy the outstanding views that the walk provides. The access areas may have seasonal restrictions which will be posted locally or found in advance from the usual sources. [Try Lancashire County Council] It would not be possible to take dogs on the whole route.
If the walk is started in Longridge the village of Dunsop Bridge makes a good halfway stopover if split into two days. There are limited bus services in the rural areas but Dunsop  Bridge is serviced from Clitheroe. Other smaller stages  over three or four days can be planned with the limited B&B accommodation in the area.  Completing the walk within a day would be a severe challenge for the fittest of walkers and maybe not the best way to appreciate the scenery. There are a few refreshment stops notably Beacon Fell Visitor Centre, Dunsop Bridge Café/PO, Bashall Barn and of course Longridge itself.LSW map
Longridge — Beacon Fell.  10km / 6m
Starting from the Millennium Cross in Longridge one is soon out into the countryside with early views of the skyline task ahead. After a short stretch of road walking the route goes onto a series of pleasant paths through farming land, both arable and stock. The agricultural changes in recent years are evident with the loss of hedges, expensive barn conversions, diversification with fishing lakes and a new golf course. As the ground rises to Beacon Fell views open up across the Fylde. Beacon Fell was opened in 1970 as one of Lancashire’s first Country Parks and has proved very popular with its easy access and good tracks suitable for all. The information centre is worth a visit as you pass on the way to the summit [266m] with its viewfinder. This summit is the first of the day and hopefully the weather will be clear for the extensive views.
Beacon Fell — Fairsnape Fell.  7km / 4.5m
Northwards the land now begins to change to rougher pastures approaching the higher fells, again the paths are clear and fairly well used. A wonderful area in spring for the sound and sight of Lapwings. Soon the bulk of Parlick is in front of you, but a winding old peat-sledge track takes you up the quieter side of the fell. The area is popular for gliding, parapenting and model planes so there is usually something in the sky to keep you distracted on the climb. Once at the top the fells stretch out before you and a good walking surface, enjoy it while you can, enables an easy section up to Fairsnape Fell with its shelters and trig point [510m] although the true summit [520m] is further on to the northeast.
Fairsnape Fell — Dunsop Bridge.  10.5km / 6.5m
The enjoyment of the next couple of hours along the ridge to Totridge Fell [496m] will depend on recent rainfall. Although there is a fence to guide you most of the way do not underestimate the difficulty underfoot and detours around the worst peat bogs are unavoidable. On a day of good visibility this is an exhilarating stretch with views to the Lakeland Hills, the vast uninhabited area of desolate fells to the north, the Three Peaks area, Pendle and the Lancastrian Fells to the south. The last legs of this walk over Waddington and Longridge Fells become clear. At the end of the ridge the beauty of the Hodder below you can be appreciated before the steep descent into the valley. The Trough of Bowland road can be busy at weekends but fields lead past a pheasant breeding farm to follow the River Dunsop into the village by its bridge. This a popular destination and after the solitude of the fells the number of trippers can come as quite a surprise, but the ice cream is great!
Don’t forget to look at the unique telephone box celebrating being at the centre of Great Britain.
Dunsop Bridge — Waddington Fell.  9.5km / 6m
This section of the walk covers new ground for most people and being trackless in parts will feel longer than the map suggests. It starts pleasantly along by the idyllic Hodder and then climbs to the exquisite wind blown, untrodden and heather clad top of Kitcham Hill [283m] From here rough moors are crossed to emerge through trees at the historic farm of Crimpton [Our Lady of the Fells] More rough trackless ground is crossed over Marl Hill [311m] heading for the mast [if you can see it!] on Waddington Fell. At one point navigation is helped by an old ditch once serving as a deer boundary for the important Browsholme Estate. Reaching the summit of Waddington Fell [395m] is a relief and most of the harder work is behind you. Once again you have stunning views from an unusual angle particularly good westwards down the length of the valley you have navigating round.
Waddington Fell — Higher Hodder Bridge.  9.5km / 6m
Downhill all the way! From the trig point you follow the obvious ridge southwards by the wall and continue down the mapped access area until it stops 0.5km short of the next Public Right of Way. Having overcome this problem field paths lead to the delightful Talbot Bridge, on past an old packhorse bridge and close to the old Bashall Hall. Soon you will be enjoying refreshments in Bashall Barn, the type of farm diversity I appreciate. More field paths bring you to The Higher Hodder Bridge.
Higher Hodder Bridge — Longridge Fell.  5.5km / 3.5m
A short stretch by the River Hodder and then you climb up to Kemple End a well known viewpoint over the Ribble Valley and Pendle. Now for a contrast you enter the sometimes gloomy forest leading uphill. Clearings are reached overlooking the Loud and Hodder valleys for relief until eventually you reach the final top of Longridge Fell [350m]. From the trig point enjoy the views northwards of patchwork fields below and the background of the route you have followed.
Longridge Fell — Longridge.  8km / 5m
The long descent to complete the round. If you have been blessed with good weather you will be able see Snowdonia ahead and pick out the Isle of Man Hills across Morecambe Bay with a background of the setting sun. Or then again it may be raining! Following the very edge of the fell you will come to the road at Jeffrey Hill car park. Here there are interesting  information boards about the area. There is the suggestion that the river Ribble may have reached the sea through the vale of Chipping at one time, being diverted by glacial deposits to it’s present more circuitous route to the south of Longridge Fell. The road has to be followed past the golf course for a couple of kilometres until you can take field paths towards Longridge. Near the end join the route of the old railway line which took stone from the extensive quarries to supply many Lancashire cities. Soon you are back at the Millennium Cross and maybe enjoying a pint in the Townley Arms reflecting on the last 60km!
Contact me if you would like detailed directions.

Tolkien Country, Crosses, Stonyhurst and the Hodder.

…..a beautiful day starts with a sharp frost, but bright and sunny again!

To keep this post topical I had been listening to the radio about a new film on release, The Hobbit, which is sure to be a big success after The Lord of the Rings. The premier was in New Zealand where I believe some of the locations were filmed. However it is well known that  J R R Tolkien,the author, spent many days walking around the Hurst Green countryside, whilst his son was studying at Stonyhurst College. The area was said to have given him inspiration for the fantasies of Lord of the Rings.

So after lunch, I don’t know what happens to the mornings!, I set off to drive up to Kemple End on Longridge Fell to take in some of the Tolkien rambles. The road up Longridge Fell had been quite icy and tricky even after noon.

Ground frost

Parked up at Kemple End [SD 688 404] and was rewarded with views across the still misty Ribble Valley towards Pendle and Boulsworth Hill.

Distant Boulsworth Hill

Distant  Boulsworth Hill

Couldn’t resist a look into the quarry where there is some good climbing. A couple of Roe Deer ran off when I descended into their territory. The rock faces were dry as they always seem to be, sheltered from any prevailing weather. This quarry had provided stone for the village of Hurst Green and Stoneyhurst College.

I realised that photography today would be difficult with the low sun. One was either shooting into the sun or having your long shadow cast across the picture.

Birdy Prow Kemple End

Birdy Prow   Kemple End

Walking through the delightful houses, that comprise the small settlement of Kemple End, I picked up a sunken track across the hillside. This was probably some constructed rail or sledge way to transport stone from the quarry down the hill.  Dropping down lanes I came into the grounds of Stoneyhurst College which one is able to traverse on public rights of way. Putting aside thoughts of the privileged classes one cannot but admire the grandeur of the place. Building started in 1523 for the Shireburn family and from 1794 the Jesuits ran it as a college. Today it is a renowned, and no doubt a very expensive, RC boarding school. Girls as well as boys now attend. The college is very proud of some of its past pupils including a certain Arthur Conan Doyle, actor Charles Laughton and Mark Thomson ex director general of the BBC.

Stoneyhurst Chapel

Stoneyhurst Chapel

Stoneyhurst College

Stoneyhurst College

Moving on through the grounds I dropped down through fields to arrive at the Lower Hodder road bridge which is sited next to the ancient, arched, packhorse bridge over the River Hodder. This is better known as Cromwell’s Bridge as it is thought that Cromwell’s parliamentary army crossed it before defeating the King’s men at the Battle of Preston in 1648. Sorry but the picture below is poor….Kemple,Stonyhurst,Hodder 029Now I embarked on the delightful  path leading up river to the Higher Hodder bridge. The river was quite low as we had not had rain for a few days. Because there are few leaves left on the trees it was easier to spot the bird life. Robins, Wrens, Blackbirds, flocks of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, a flash of a Kingfisher, a nod of a Dipper and lots of Herons poising patiently above the cold waters.Kemple,Stonyhurst,Hodder 040

The path passed  first the base of a damaged cross and then an intact relatively modern cross. These must be connected in some way to the college but I’ve been unable to discover their history. Any ideas?

Kemple,Stonyhurst,Hodder 035The path through the woods next to the River Hodder is popular and well maintained with steps and good footbridges over side steams. Whenever I use these Lancashire County Council bridges I have to say a quick ‘hello’ to a deceased, dear, friend who worked in the bridge department of the council. He much preferred the challenge of a humble footbridge project in the countryside to being in his office.

Lancs County Council Footbridge.

Lancs County Council Footbridge. Thanks!

Soon I was approaching Higher Hodder Bridge and the path doubles back and starts to climb in zigzags up the hillside to Kemple End. Pausing for breath gave me chance to survey the scene over the Ribble Valley towards Waddington Fell and Pendle – the changing light from the low sun was magical. This route up from the river is part of my Longridge Skyline Way [from now on LSW] which I mentioned whilst crossing Beacon Fell.

Pendle in Evening Sun from Kemple End

Pendle in Evening Sun from near Kemple End

As there was plenty of light left I crossed over the wall by the road at Kemple End to investigate a nearby cross a couple of hundred yards away in the field. This is the so called  Paulinus Cross dating from the 7th century when St. Paulinus, Bishop of York, was supposed to have preached here on his mission [1619-1633] to convert us heathen Lancastrians  to Christianity. It is a rather strange looking cross!

Paulinus Cross

Paulinus Cross

Quite a long post today, but for a short afternoon walk there was a lot to be included.

Nearby on a lane is another cross dating from 1934 with the haunting inscription – WATCH FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY, NOR THE HOUR.Kemple,Stonyhurst,Hodder 061

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Beacon Fell – Views and Sculptures

Following days of heavy rain, and serious floods in other parts of the country, today was forecast to be sunny, cold and dry. This proved this to be correct.  After a mornings work I was keen to make the best of the afternoon. A quick trip up to ‘Craig Y Longridge’ showed me there was still too much seepage for bouldering so I decided on a short walk on and around Beacon Fell. The tracks up there would at least be better than the sodden fields elsewhere. I can see Beacon Fell from the back of my house and subconsciously check it out for clear weather most days.

Beacon Fell

Today was perfect. In the summer months I have often used a circular walk through fields from home up to Beacon Fell and back. These tracks are a small part of my Longridge Skyline Walk which takes in Beacon Fell, Parlick, Fairsnape-Totridge, Kitcham Hill, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell, a round of over 60k. More of that another time.

Beacon Fell has been a Country Park since 1970. The good visibility of the fell made it a good location for warning beacons. These have been recorded for nearly a thousand years. Until the beginning of the last century it was rough farmland and then was acquired in 1909 by Fulwood Council as a water supply. Water was collected in Barnsfold Reservoir and from there piped to Fulwood via Horns Dam and Haighton. Conifers were planted to help drainage. After 1959, no longer required for water, it was left unattended until acquired by Lancs County Council and opened as an early Country Park. It seems to have gained in popularity ever since.

At 266 metres (873 ft) above sea level, small compared with the neighbouring fells, its position offers commanding views over the flat plain of The Fylde and  Morecambe Bay to the west, the Bowland Hills to the North as well as the Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley to the south-east. On  clear days, as today, the Welsh hills, the Lakeland Fells and the Isle Of Man are visible.

Bowland Visitor Centre

The park is well served with a welcoming visitor centre and cafe, open all year. From these car parks  tracks wander all over the fell and forest. Pick up a leaflet if you are unfamiliar with the area. Today I was keen to climb to the top for the views but decided to seek out along the way a series of sculptures by local artist Thompson Dagnall. The first is just above the centre, Orme Sight, a grotesque face with a drill hole sighting through his eye onto the N. Wales coast.

Orme Sight

As you walk up through the trees you come across the Walking Snake, a remarkable 50ft long, winding, wooden snake which kids love to balance along until they come eye to eye with head!

Walking Snake

Close by is an unusual use of trees uprooted and ‘replanted’ upside down to create the Spruced up Heron. I think this has changed from its original and now gives the impression of the bird part buried in an inverted position. Needs a new name.

Spruced up Heron

Unfortunately the Hanging Bat in trees near the top of the fell has been dismantled because of rotting timbers and won’t reappear. Further  down the fell you may find the scary Black Tiger and Kissing Seat.

Black Tiger Kissing Seat

Anyhow to get back to the top of the fell and the trig point there were a gaggle of people staring out at the very clear views to the west.

Where is it?

As it says ‘on the tin’ there were commanding views in all directions – I don’t think I’ve seen them so clear!  Snow on the Lakeland tops, lots more wind turbines in the Irish Sea, Isle Of Man looking very close and some heights to its left in the distance – must have been Northern Island. Unable with my camera to capture this scene, but no problem with the closer and impressive Bowland Fells of Fairsnape and Parlick, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell.

Pendle and Longridge Fell

I continued my walk around the northern slopes of the fell, on past the pond with lots of ducks and through avenues of spruce back to the Visitor Centre. Interesting displays about Bowland and surroundings took my attention. In particular photos of lime kilns in the Chipping area, the volunteers manning the display were knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. By the time I emerged the sun was going down low over the Welsh hills giving a fittingly beautiful view to end the day. Looking just like a watercolour wash.

[Don’t forget to click photos to enlarge]

The Clwyd Hills.

So a wonderful afternoon – some of the clearest views I’ve seen from here, a sculpture trail and added interest from the Bowland Visitor Centre.     Did I mention you could see Blackpool Tower?

Looks good for tomorrow too ……..

 

PPS Have a look at my may 2014  post    https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/beacon-bivi/  for more sculptures on Beacon Fell.