Category Archives: Longridge Skyline Walk

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 massacrer [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.