Category Archives: Longridge Skyline Walk

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 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 sandmartins going back and forth to their holes in a sand bank. 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, some how 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 decide 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.