Category Archives: Longridge Skyline Walk

Tolkien Country, Crosses, Stoneyhurst 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.