Category Archives: Longridge

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROMANS, AND OTHER CURIOSITIES.

Monday 23rd November.   5 miles.  Longridge.

There have been debates on the route of the Roman road from Ribchester to Lancaster and where it crosses Longridge Fell.  LIDAR technology has been used to reveal archaeological features. Using Lidar, experts now think it went on a slant past Longridge to Inglewhite and on to Catterall before heading due north.  http://www.romanroads.org/gazetteer/rib-catt.htm

You learn something new every day.

I wanted to have a look at the section coming up to Longridge, Mike was happy to join me on this simple exploration which should give us a ‘good’ short walk.

We started off at the top of Longridge above the reservoirs, walked through one of the old stone quarries and down a lane, which would have rattled with clogs in the C19th, The new housing estate on the right has probably been built on the line of the Roman road. Along here next to the reservoirs is The Corporation Arms, said to be the only pub owned by a council waterboard. Fortunately there is a pavement alongside the busy road until we could turn off and head towards a farm called Stonelands, probably parallel with the Roman Road. In a field is the Roman milestone pinpointed by  the grid ref. SD 62307/37134   [red dot on my map below spot height 111].  Its setting is not ideal next to a children’s play structure and alongside more modern carved stone gateposts. These have an inscription of PG 07, query sculptor and date?

The milestone itself is thought to have been inverted at some time, the squarish top would be more normal as a base. Apparently there was an inscription dedicated to Emperor Maximian c. 300 AD, but we could make nothing out. PS. I have just found in an online journal, Britannia,  a picture of the milestone before it was ‘replanted’, it had been found used as a gate post.

Our onward public footpath follows the line of the Roman road as far as Pinfold and in the next field the line of the agger was clearly seen although  it doesn’t show up well in my photos looking towards Ribchester. The field between The Corporation Arms and Stonelands is supposed to also show the agger well but I couldn’t make it out, though it does seem to show up on satellite images.

The agger was the raised ground dug as a base for the road, usually ‘scoop’ ditches are then apparent on either side. It is these changes in ground level that are picked up by the LIDAR surveys. On we marched.

Our next objective was Buckley Hall, Mike had worked on the adjacent farm buildings 39 years ago creating an upmarket dwelling. The hall itself is C17th but has been rebuilt over the years. The date stone originally stated 1662, belonging to the Shireburn family.

Buckley Hall Farm.

Buckley Hall.

Our next objective was Dilworth Bottoms which we used to visit regularly when friends lived there. This area is delightful Lancashire countryside with undulating fields and deep gills, the site of many mills in the past. Our proposed way seemed to be blocked at a pair of footbridges, we didn’t descend to investigate but followed another path to the immaculate Cage Mill. Following Cowley Brook we came into Dilworth Bottoms. There is a cluster of houses down here linked by fords across the stream. At one time there were several mills, cotton and bobbin, associated weaving cottages and a Smithy, all dependent on the running water. The mills have gone but the other properties have been renovated for modern living. The next stretch of path was a disaster, it looked bad going down over a ditch and then climbing what turned out to be the skipping out pile from stables above. I’ve marked it on my map with a red cross, skull and crossbones would have been better. Nobody had been this way for  years but fortunately the owner we met at the top was of good humour and showed us a way out of his property passing a green looking outside pool. There were horses and ponies everywhere. All a bit surreal. I hardly have the enthusiasm to report this Public Right Of Way obstruction to the authorities but perhaps I should.

On we marched.

Up the lane was another blast from the past. I’ve written about the Written Stone several times before. https://cryofthesedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-written-stone-of-dilworth/

The bridleway brought us back up into the village by the caravan park and our last encounter of the day. A man was reconstructing a stone wall damaged by moles undermining it. We got talking about all things local until he launched into sermon of the Methodist Faith  with some dodgy references to race and sexuality.  On we marched.

Preston in the distance.

*****

WEATHER WINDOW ON A LONGRIDGE MISCELLANEA.

Sunday November 1st.  6.5miles.   Longridge.

Hurricane Zeta is chasing Storm Aiden across the British Isles this weekend. I get out this morning for a couple of hours exercise between the two.

My last post predicted or prayed for another lockdown, well Boris appeared on TV last night and announced one. I’m not getting into a debate about the why’s, when’s and how’s of our country’s attempt to deal with the virus. There will be plenty of time for that.

No, my walk today is probably going to be a regular one as we are told to stay home – but get exercise, no mention of distance travelled from home for said exercise, another fuzzy rule. So I walk from my doorstep. The diggers are having a Sunday rest on the latest building site coming to Longridge. Down past more new housing, then the cricket pitch and I’m in the countryside. Unusually ‘Mile Lane’ is empty of pedestrians, last lockdown it was busy most of the days with the good folk of Longridge taking their daily perambulation.

A delightful little lane along the track of the old quarry railway leads through bushes to the park. I have a painting of it on a sunny day by a local artist hanging upstairs.

The park is a magnet for dog walkers. There seems to have been an increase in canine ownership during the pandemic, unless I’m imagining it.

From Higher Road a track goes around the back of the old Quarryman’s Arms……and then through the quarries and down past the reservoirs, more new housing to the right, onto Lower Lane. Along here I spend time chatting, at a distance, to friends I haven’t seen for a while. I walk past one of my former homes, can’t believe it was so large. For the record…

Down by the church, a rather flooded Happy Alley, and round more reservoirs I come to Pinfold Lane. A pinfold was an enclosure for cattle or sheep that had strayed. The animals would be restrained in the pinfold until the owner redeemed them – normally by paying a small fine. Pinfolds were found in towns and villages from, at least, the Middle Ages onwards. I don’t know the site of this pinfold but it may have been at the end of the lane, here there is a benchmark and a substantial ancient cross base.

I stopped to put on my waterproofs as the first drops of rain were felt, but I was home before it became heavy. I wasn’t tempted to save thousands buying a new house.

So in the coming lockdown weeks this little excursion, or variations on it, will probably be my go-to walk. Is ‘go-to’ an American expression? I don’t really like it and should have changed it to ‘regular’. I will no doubt come across other interesting Longridge titbits as time goes on.

*****

DEJA VU – LONGRIDGE IN LOCKDOWN?

Friday October 30th.  5.5 miles.  Longridge.

I’m stood at the entrance to Sainsbury’s giving my hands a good sanitising wash and wiping down the handles of my basket. Probably a half dozen other shoppers pass me going straight into the isles without even the most rudimentary hand sanitisation. The scientists say we have to go into stricter measures to combat the virus. The politicians vacillate. The public obviously can’t be bothered. Go back six months to April and I had stopped coming out to shop, home deliveries were the thing. People stepped aside to let you pass on the pavement. We clapped the NHS on a Thursday. What’s changed? The virus hasn’t, the scientific advice hasn’t – ‘way past the worst scenario’. Unfortunately the politicians have stopped daily updates, too much bad news – 274 deaths today. So the public have stopped listening.

I’m not sure I will be coming out to Sainsbury’s again, could it be classified as a superspreader?

*****

This afternoon as the sun came out I felt emboldened with my new boots to walk some of the sodden field paths around Longridge.  I used these in the height of lockdown for relatively safe exercise as one didn’t meet anyone. Time to resort to them once more as the local virus count escalates. We have been in the third tier restrictions for a while.

Back in Spring, remember that lovely weather when we were all frightened, these paths were well-used by locals getting their daily exercise. Today I feel I’m the only one.

I splodge on through the wet fields. I’m out in the open and free. I get my fill of views to all the surrounding hills.

Longridge Fell.

Parlick and Fairsnape Fells.

One of the local pheasant/partridge shoots are relaxing at the inn, Ferraris Country House. Ironically another, The Dog and Partidge,  has closed under the stringent economic circumstances. Incidentally today DEFRA and the government have been dragged into some sort of legislation of Game Bird shooting. We do not know the effect of releasing millions of Pheasants and Partridges into local environments. And can you believe we are still allowing the use of lead shot?    hhttps://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/licensing-scheme-for-release-of-pheasants-red-legged-partridge-in-england-following-wild-justice-legal-challenge/

I calm down and cross the road into Little Town Dairy who have continued to keep their shop and café open during the present crisis. Notice the clever use of milky flowers on their sign. I meet up with the matriarch of the family business, and we talk about past times. Somehow I end up in her kitchen where all the family decisions are enacted.

By the time I get to Sainsbury’s the sun is setting.

Sorry but I won’t be calling in to my local pub. The country needs an efficient lockdown now.*****

LONGRIDGE SLATE POETRY – Dark clouds gathering?

On many of my local walks up on Longridge Fell since the pandemic started I highlighted the uplifting poems written on slate and scattered about the region. I still do not know the originator of these pieces of art. Each one has been chosen for its content – nature and the environment; humanity, compassion and hope.

Today I have a stroll around the village itself to discover even more poems.

When I wrote about Longridge in March it was virtually a ghost town but time has moved on, we have relaxed and ventured out shopping again. The coffee shops have a new lease of life. Today in the blue skiy and sunshine the streets were busy, but with many people wearing their masks between shops. A new normal as the infection rate rises?  The virus’s hand is on our shoulder warning us of a bleak Winter to come. In that context the poems take on a life of their own – interpret them as you wish but we should embrace  their optimism.

The latest slates in no particular order…

There may be more painted slates lying unnoticed in the village, I’ll keep looking. I think we may need their solace in the months to come.

On my walk I had a song constantly nagging at my mind …

RAPTOR ON THE LAWN.

Most days I see a Sparrow Hawk flying through my garden scattering the smaller birds and sometimes disappearing with a tit or sparrow. Yesterday as if on cue, it was Hen Harrier Day celebrating our raptors – https://www.henharrierday.uk/ I noticed out of the corner of my eye a pile of feathers on the lawn and a Sparrow Hawk devouring its prey. I hastily gathered my phone and took a few shots through the kitchen window and then it was away. The feathers, there was nothing else left, were possibly from one of the collared doves that frequent the garden.

Longridge is being built up with many green spaces, hedges and trees disappearing. This will have a marked effect upon the local wildlife. Within a couple of weeks, as well as the usual birdlife I’ve watched a hedgehog walking across the lawn and now a Sparrow Hawk. I wonder for how much longer will I witness these events?

TIME IS PASSING BY.

It is probably a week since I last walked any of my regular local routes. The weather was perfect today so I even got going before lunchtime. In the strange days we are living in, time has become warped and I have almost arrived at the position of ignoring it. That’s not all that different from my usual lifestyle. I’ve been setting a bi-weekly quiz for some friends during the lockdown and one of them commented today that if it wasn’t for the regular Thursday and Sunday questions he wouldn’t know which day of the week it was.

Since I was last out the countryside has subtly changed. The lambs have grown fatter, the grass has grown longer and the flowers have moved into another cycle. Gone are the bluebells, sorrel and primroses and more colour is now evident in the hedgerows with stitchwort, buttercups, vetch,  ragged robin and blue speedwells.

Comfrey and Cow Parsley.

Red Campion.

Buttercup.

Stitchwort, chickweed.

 

Speedwell.

The hawthorn has flowered replacing the blackthorn and what is noticeable is the sweet aroma from it. Its blossoming marks the point at which spring turns into summer, and the old saying ‘Cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’ almost certainly refers to the opening of hawthorn flowers rather than the end of the month.

Hawthorn.

The small amounts of road I have to walk on are a nightmare with some of the worst driving I’ve witnessed for a while. I read that the police are out to catch speeding drivers this weekend at the worst hotspots.

With the weather being so good I joined several of my local field paths together and ended up doing about 6 miles without noticing the time. There is no end to lockdown, as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll probably write up the same walk next week and wonder where the time has gone. But nature marches on and there will be changes underfoot to remind me of the passing year, a year I’ve all but written off for getting away.

*****

VE DAY 75 CELEBRATIONS.

 

Lest we forget – I nearly did.

I decided to go out on my bike again today, partially to avoid people and secondly to explore further afield. Not that I don’t know ‘further afield’ in intimate detail. I pedalled off into the east and found myself coming into Chipping in the early afternoon. There was bunting everywhere and there seemed to be a street party underway, all well distanced. Only then did the realisation that it was the 75th anniversary of VE Day enter my all too isolated brain. I didn’t stop for an illicit drink but I wished everyone well as I cycled past. What a good turnout. Up at the church was a classic jeep and other period vehicles had been brought out to give some atmosphere. I felt a chump for not realising the day and forgetting the two minutes silence this morning at 11am.

I was huffing and puffing on some of the hills out of Chipping and I stopped at a gateway to take a photo down the valley. Along came a couple of cyclists, my friends Kevin and Shelagh. I last saw them just before the lockdown when I called at their house on a walk over the Chipping Fells. Today they were taking their exercise and hoping to buy some cheese at one of the local dairies. After pleasantries, they cycled off with S engaging electric mode. I continued more sedately enjoying the views and fresh air.

I arrived home within the hour pleased with my modest socially distanced circuit, my belated  VE Day observances and determined to go further tomorrow.

I’m praying the government doesn’t in the next few days unravel our attempts to slow the virus and protect our NHS.

 

*****

MIXED BLESSINGS.

I realised today I’d not been out on a walk for some time. What day is it anyhow?

Last week seemed fragile topsy turvy and the last couple of days I’ve been head down in the garden. I’ve finished painting the pebble dash on my garage and have cut down a Mountain Ash that looked decidedly unhealthy last year and has shown no sign of budding this spring. By tea time I was knackered so I set off on a walk.

I had two objectives. One was to explore a little further up onto the slopes of Longridge Fell putting some ascent into my walks and secondly to gather some wild garlic leaves and flowers for cooking.

The local cricket field was immaculate for ghost players.

It was a mistake to head out on the Chipping Road and go up Mile Lane. Half the population of Longridge were using this route and I was constantly being closely passed by heavy breathing joggers. I felt quite uncomfortable as up to now I’ve been more or less completely self-isolated.

With relief, I entered field paths near the top of the lane, Old Rhodes,  where I could relax and take in the views. I don’t think the pheasant jogging past posed any risk.

I wandered down a rough lane to pass through Little Town Farm. This is a mainly dairy herd farm producing thousands of gallons of milk from their automated milking parlours. A few years ago they diversified by making yoghurt and opened a farm shop, cafe and small garden centre. It has become a popular destination for the locals to lunch out and buy fresh products. Due to the Covid19 restrictions, the cafe and garden centre are closed although there is limited access to the farm shop. Thankfully they are able to distribute most of their milk to the local cheesemakers while you hear of other farmers having to pour excess milk away.

Across the road and I was heading down to Ferrari’s Country Hotel and Restaurant, another place affected by the virus lockdown, they are doing takeaways to tick over. This is where I was able to pick the garlic and also get a glance of flowering bluebells which I’d missed so far this year

.

The evening sun was delightful as I followed familiar paths home through lush green fields with the Bowland Fells in the background.  For supper, I enjoyed a poached egg on a bed of garlic leaves with new potatoes.

In future, I will avoid the lanes close to the village, why don’t I get it right in the first place?. The spring sunshine was a tonic but I was really unhappy about the number of people moving about.

Back into the garden tomorrow…

*****

Unfortunately, I’ve just watched the news on TV. I fluctuate between crying for the loss of life and the personal tales from care homes who are taking the brunt of deaths at the moment and screaming at the TV politicians attempting a positive spin on testing whilst the death toll has yet again increased. I’m ashamed we are probably the worst in Europe. I fear the process of coming out of lockdown given the previous ineptitude of our government.

What value human life?  Can Manchester United et al start playing football soon?

*****

A GARDEN SNAPSHOT.

I’m forever extolling the fortunate privilege of having a garden to relax in during this Covid-19 lockdown.  The last month has seen record sunshine and being outside without risk of encountering the virus has been a bonus, despite the extra work I’ve found for myself.

As the weather is changing I’ll probably be busy inside the house so here are a few pictures as I wander around the garden. In 2017  I posted a month by month view of my garden but as you can see April is one of the most colourful and promising months of the year. Award yourself a prize if you can correctly identify them all…

and I can’t resist a couple of good sunsets…

All that without leaving the house, I’m so lucky compared to many..

MY NECESSARILY LOCAL SPRINGTIME.

The pandemic rolls on. I have no intention of debating the government’s problems in this post  I’m just here to enjoy the local countryside.

I have well and truly isolated myself with basically no access to the outside world. I’ve not been into the village for shopping. I’ve a mask, from my toolbox in the garage, to wear if I have to, in order not to spread the virus without realising it.

But I have however started to venture out of an evening for some exercise finding there is virtually nobody about as they are probably having supper. Inglewhite Road, scene of the recent  ‘hedgerow massacre’,   leaves the village in an NW direction and in less than half a mile I’m able to leave it for paths and quieter lanes. I have a choice of routes all between 3 and 4 miles which fits in with the recommended local exercise.

I was surprised to hear that some people are going for walks of 8 to 10 miles and will obviously be out for much longer though they will probably not get close to any other people.  They are more likely to catch something in the local supermarket where I hear social distancing is not always respected. Anyhow, I’ll stick with my moderate exercise regime though the guidelines are becoming blurred.

None of my evening walks is worthy of individual description but all are pleasant enough through fields with the Bowland Fells tantalisingly in the background. The panorama takes in Beacon Fell, The Fairsnape group, Waddington Fell and back round to Longridge Fell. [This panorama was the idea behind my  Longridge Skyline Walk which I devised many years ago as a 60K route and have completed as a two-day expedition several times.]

Bowland Fells.

Longridge Fell.

The swallows and martins have returned, the hedges are alive with bird song, the lambs are doing what lambs do and there is a good show of spring flowers and blossoms. So my leisurely strolls are full of interest. Once off the road I never meet anyone but there is evidence of increased usage of the paths.

An amalgamation of recent walks…

I return home refreshed and ready to devise a menu from my boxes of fruit and vegetables. Tonight was cauliflower cheese. These little details seem to take on an increased significance in the otherwise mundane routine days of lockdown.

I reiterate my privilege of living on the edge of this lovely countryside, enjoying a garden in the sunshine and having none of the monetary or employment worries of some people. I’ve now completed 5 weeks of virtual isolation apart from these recent walks, even then I have no direct contact with other people. I don’t see any problem with continuing for the duration, however long that may be.

*****

My map shows the amalgamation of my local lockdown walks.

 

A BITTER TASTE IN MY MOUTH.

I’ve been avoiding human and potential coronaviral contact for four weeks now. I’m quite good at it. Jobs are getting done slowly [there will be plenty of time] and as my fruit and veg are being delivered there is no need to go to the shops. The weather has been warm enough to sit and relax in the garden.

But it was time to venture out on some short walks. There is a selection of paths to the north of where I live and by taking my ‘permitted exercise’ around six pm I meet virtually no one. More of those later.

It was on my way home this evening that I passed the site earmarked for six more houses on Inglewhite Road. I thought at one-time ribbon development into the countryside [there is no longer a green belt] was to be avoided but now anything goes under this government’s wretched housing policy, or rather lack of policy in our village.

This was the original view walking out of Longridge…

The field in question is behind the hedge and trees on the right.

What had been a field with hedgerows and trees the last time I was out [photo above] was now stripped bare.  They had already stripped back the topsoil a couple of days ago.  Now every vestige of hedging gone. Why do they have to do this? One would have thought that some mature hedging on the borders of the new properties would have been an asset. And as for cutting down mature trees!

The next three pictures are taken looking towards Longridge…

Start of the clearing – trees and hedges hanging on.

 

No trees or hedges.

Barren environment.

I haven’t had time yet to look up the relevant planning permission details but I suspect that some of this vandalism violates their stipulations. No doubt when the houses are finished a ‘hedge’ of that awful Laurel will be planted where the original hedge had been. Or perhaps a large wall will be built around the plot of exclusive houses, no affordable housing here, and a gate put across their entrance. I’m becoming irritated.

*****

I may have related this episode before but it is relevant…                                                                        Idly looking out of my bedroom window the other morning I was aware of a sudden flash across my vision as a Sparrow Hawk swooped into the hedge opposite. From that apparently empty hedge about 20 or more small birds, minus the one captured by the hawk, flew to safety in all directions. This evidence of so many birds using that stretch of hedge environment brings home the importance, as if you didn’t realise, of our traditional and varied roadside hedges.

You can understand why on a beautiful evening I’ve returned home with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Another spectacular sunset  – so I’m hoping I’ll feel better tomorrow.

 

CLIMBING THE WALLS.

A lot of people are ‘climbing the walls’  with all these Covid19 isolation rules. I feel particular sympathy for those families living in cramped accommodation with maybe no open space to relax in. Having a garden is a great advantage, I’m blessed with mine.

Following my successful backpacking trip at Easter, I thought it was time for a bit of climbing particularly as the weather has been so good the rock will be in excellent condition. I’m lucky in having Craig Y Longridge just up the road and normally go bouldering there most days when I’m fit. It is a unique venue with over 300ft of overhanging rock in the main up to about 15 – 20 ft high.  There are over a hundred problems and many more variations to play on until your strength gives out. As everywhere else, due to the coronavirus, climbing is banned for the foreseeable future.  Social distancing is difficult and any accident there would place even more burden on our emergency services.

Craig Y Longridge on a rather poor day but you get the idea of how steep it is.

Better weather – struggling climber. Oct 2018.

Not to be deterred I’ve some walls at home. The walls of my stone-built house offer edges which replicate the holds found on natural gritstone. Most of the walls now have plants and shrubs close or growing up them. However, the sidewall adjacent to my drive is free to explore after a little trimming of the honeysuckle on the corner.

So out comes the bouldering mat and I catch the morning sun. There are several variations up this bit of wall and one can make it as easy or hard as necessary. To be honest I’ve done so much gardening these last weeks that my dodgy shoulder is playing up so I have to go careful. Still, it is good fun and gives me some exercise every morning. Note the right foot on the window ledge is cheating.

The bouldering mat below me should ensure that I don’t twist an ankle or worse and end up in casualty, I’m not actually getting far off the ground as you can see. I do get some funny looks from passers-by.

 

After a few weeks I should have worked out lots of ways up this bit of wall and may have to start on the other side of the house but that would require some extensive ‘gardening’ to remove the shrubs.

So yet more simple diversions to help pass the days and keep fit at the same time bringing some normality into my life.

*****

PS. The news today is that Joe Brown the famous working-class Manchester climber has died, aged 89. He was a climbing legend and many of you will have heard of him.

Joe was a true pioneer of rock climbing particularly active in the 1950s and 1960s when he pushed standards. His ascents were as varied in style as they were in location and ranged from the gritstone outcrops of the Peak District, the mountains of Britain to 8000m peaks in the Himalaya. He achieved TV fame with live outside broadcasts and earned the nickname ‘the human fly‘.  The personality and talent he possessed only come along every few generations or so.

A JOBSWORTH.

This has made me smile today.                                                                                                              

The road near my house was trenched recently to put in a new water main. They finished the work before the Covid-19 crisis began and tarmacked over their work, it all looked very neat and tidy. There is very little traffic during the lockdown and I hadn’t noticed before that where their strip passed through a SLOW sign they had obviously been expected to make good with the lettering. This was the result…

They had only painted the lettering on their tarmacked strip with the obvious bizarre result.

I can imagine the worker in charge of the painting machine asking his supervisor how much to print and being told  “just our bit, it’s more than my jobsworth to touch the rest

The expression ‘jobsworth’ has come to mean someone who sticks to the rules of their job even when it would be more sensible to do otherwise.   ‘It’s more than my job’s worth’  suggesting I might lose my job if I did the other.

We are all familiar with this attitude in the workplace  –  the opposite ofJob’s a good’un’

 

A SHORT BACKPACKING TRIP.

The weather is set fair for the weekend, the days are lengthening and I would normally be off on some long-distance path around this date.  My long time friend Mel and I often choose March/April for one of our sorties which we have been doing for over the last 20 years.      [more of Mel in a later post]

I feel the urge for an overnight camping trip somewhere.

Happy Easter.

Why start a post on backpacking with a tray of eggs?   I certainly wasn’t going to take them with me…

It’s great sorting through my camping gear, the smell and the touch bring back memories of  trips both at home and abroad. I’ve several backpacking tents, all a little dated now. My favourite for lightweight trips is my solo Saunders Jetpacker. I only use the outer and pitch it with my trekking poles which saves a load of weight. I’ve never bothered with Thermarest type inflatable sleeping pads as I’m happy sleeping on a short piece of foam. The temperature at night isn’t much less than 10 degrees so my three-season ME Dew Line should be warm enough. As I don’t use the inner tent I pack a very lightweight bivi sac to protect my sleeping bag and give a little extra warmth.

I can’t find any gas cartridges for my stove so I decided to eat supper before I go. I’m only out one night and cold muesli will be fine in the morning. As I’d had  3 dozen eggs, pictured above, delivered this morning I make a Spanish Omelette, tortilla, for supper. It is very filling therefore I’ll freeze the remaining slices. For afters, I have a slice of the pear crumble I made last night from a surfeit of fruit, delicious. So more pictures of food which is becoming an obsession in this lockdown.

Tortilla.

Pear crumble – fast disappearing.

Well fortified I set off from home with what was a very light rucksack, Golite in fact. I need to find somewhere out of sight and off the beaten track to pitch my tent and fortunately I found such a spot with plenty of light left. All seems well with the tent and I have it up in about 5minutes. I settle in with a crossword as darkness quickly falls, a couple of owls hoot and then all becomes silent.

There is a heavy dew in the night but I stay snug and dry. A far off cockerel heralds the day rather early, about 4am, and the general bird song starts an hour later. I then fall asleep again until seven-thirty. I skip breakfast, pack the wet tent and head back to my house before anyone is about.

This has only been a short taste of backpacking but it has broken some of the monotony of the lockdown and brought back memories of more dramatic camps throughout the world. I’m rather pleased that a simple night under ‘canvas’ can still give such pleasure.  I may even attempt a two-night trip next week.

There is no map of my short walk as I need to keep the camping spot a secret to use again.

GHOST TOWN.

 
Last evening I took my first walk, my permitted local exercise, for nearly a fortnight.  It was a warm sunny evening and I just strolled around Longridge to see what was happening.  Precisely nothing as there was hardly a car on the roads and I only passed maybe half a dozen people.
The rather boring photos below show empty streets but note the large proportion of stone houses for which the village was renowned before all the new developments which bear no connection architecturally to our heritage.
 
 
Not quite as bleak as the one depicted by The Specials which was in my ear as I walked around.
 
 

 

 

The road to Chipping.

Inglewhite Road.

Halfpenny Lane.

 

Whittingham Rd heading to Stonebridge roundabout.

Abandoned Housing Development.

Stone Bridge Roundabout, a local bottleneck.

Kestor Lane.

Market Place with Palace Cinema – will it survive?

Market Place with our local cobbler.

When will this Sale end?

Empty Pub – The Dog.

Higher Road going up onto the fell.

Berry Lane, the main shopping street.

Our local hardware shop.

Derby Road.

Abandoned road works.   

This won’t be my regular walk as it is all urban and crossing the road to avoid oncoming pedestrians is awkward. People of my generation are extra careful but I find a minority of youngsters pay little heed to distance, I personally am not convinced that 2 metres are sufficient. Social distancing isn’t working as one can see from the steadily rising coronavirus infection figures. The wearing of face masks by all early on would have cut down on transmission but the politicians couldn’t say that as there weren’t sufficient reserves. Next time I’ll head into the countryside or should I just stay safe in my garden, I’m privileged to have one and feel sympathy for all flat dwellers.

 
*****
 

FEEDING MYSELF IN ISOLATION.

I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered some fruit and vegetables to be delivered to me.

Disillusioned with the supermarkets home delivery services, or lack of, I phoned a local firm who normally distribute to the catering trade, pubs and restaurants. Obviously, their trade will have dried up unless they have hospital contracts. The lady on their phone was extremely helpful and explained they did a family box of vegetables and one of fruit delivered for £25. She suggested I try these first and then adjust my further orders to suit me. I set up an account there and then and paid by card, simple. She said to expect the delivery the next morning. Now that’s service.

[The firm, Ribble Farm Fare, is based in Longridge,  A family-run business specialising in fruit and vegetables. David Coulston founded the business in 1964, selling potatoes door-to-door. I remember when I came to Longridge in the early 70’s he was just becoming successful, he’d purchased a villa out in Lanzarote and named it Casa Potata.  His two sons run the firm now, with a substantial workforce, from a large warehouse in the village. Looking at their website I was amazed at the variety they provide, not only the raw products but an extensive range of prepared restaurant items. Obviously the latter are defunct at present.]

At 7am whilst I was making coffee the van arrived and the boxes were dropped off in my porch without any person to person contact. I was staggered when I saw the selection. She wasn’t exaggerating describing them as family boxes. It felt like Xmas and birthday all in one.

The fruits included 10 oranges, 10 apples, 10 pears, a large melon and bananas.

The veg box included generous portions of carrots, onions. large and small potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, swede, red pepper, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms and for good measure 2litres of milk and a loaf of bread.

All the products were of very good quality and obviously fresh. What great value delivered to my door. The other box in the picture is bird food which cost me more than my own supply.

I set to make a large quantity of vegetable soup. I will struggle to eat all the fruit, certainly will be getting my ‘five-a-day’. When this lot is eaten I will definitely place another order but will have to be more explicit on the volume. I hope that with people like me in the area we go some way to supporting our local businesses, they need all the help they can get.

I’ve previously mentioned I have a daily milk delivery and he will supply eggs as and when needed so I feel less stress about food.

On the subject of deliveries, I had a bit of debacle trying to get prescriptions from my local chemist, part of a national group, so in discussion with my doctor I arranged for another fairly local chemist to supply and deliver my outstanding items. I know everyone is under pressure at the moment but some go out of their way to be helpful.

Sorry about all these minutiae but I suppose we are all focusing on the problems ahead. My heart goes out to any families directly affected by the coronavirus and I express my gratitude to any of you out there on the front line.

On a lighter note, some of you thought I was becoming morose in my last posts so I enclose a link my son sent me to a funny comedian, Stephen Cookson, I’d never heard of before.

One line for Sir Hugh – I’m thinking of switching my energy supplier, from Red Bull to Lucozade.

All the best.

HOW NOT TO ISOLATE.

I don’t think I’m going to be very good at this. I don’t have a regular routine at the best of times – get up when I feel like it, eat at odd hours, read and listen to the radio through a lot of the night. Should I keep to my non-routine or change to the ones recommended everywhere at the moment?  The best I’ve seen was a video from an ex submarine captain who was used to months underwater in very confined conditions.  Worth a look…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-hampshire-52085862/coronavirus-submarine-captain-s-advice-on-social-isolation

It may work for you but a couple of weeks in and I haven’t changed so it looks likely that I’ll plod on as I am.

I wake at maybe 8 o’clock, come downstairs to make coffee and feed the cat. Now I have an extra job – bring in the milk from the doorstep and wash the bottles in soapy water. Don’t believe I’m writing this, what hope for people with OCD? My hands are already getting chapped with all this soapy water washing. I never thought when I started this humble blog site about rock climbing and walking that I would be posting a picture of milk bottles.

I take my coffee back to bed and have a look at what’s happening in the world and in my Emails on the computer. I get distracted by some climbing videos on youtube, you know how it is. One often links into another and another, better make another coffee.

Once up and about I go into the garden. I’m slowly working my way around the beds weeding and clearing up. I tend to do about 2-3 hours until my back has had enough, there are plenty of days left for more. I’ve a good selection of all the common weeds as well as some plants I introduced and wish I hadn’t. This is the first year for a while to have the time to do a thorough job and try and catch the weeds before they become established.

Common weeds…

Bittercress. Seeds early and everywhere.

Cleavers. Sticks to everything.

Dandelion. Deep tap root, worse in lawns.

…Herb Bennet, Nettle, Buttercup, Rosebay Willowherb, Chickweed, Ivy, Bramble  – the list goes on.

Plants I introduced by mistake…

Dog Violet. Tenacious little b…..

Cuckoo Pint. Bulblets and seeds proliferate out of control.

Welsh Poppy. Orange variety has a deep taproot.

Yellow Variegated Dead Nettle. I wish it was dead, suckers everywhere. I was a sucker to plant it.

And then there is my lawn in amongst the moss. Need to buy some lawn sand, I will have to look online.

Lawn in my moss.

I could write a whole post on weeds, I almost have. When is a weed a flower?  Catch them early before they flower. They’ll all be back tomorrow.

The cherry blossom I pictured in my last post a week ago is shedding petals like snow in today’s breeze, it’s such a shame they only last a short time, rather sad really.

The fields opposite my house are earmarked for development and in the last few weeks the bulldozers have been in and stripped the hedges and destroyed most of the trees. They had started on the drainage and access roads but now the site is closed down leaving the whole place in a mess. I used to see deer and hares in those fields and the hedges were full of birds, what now for wildlife? Anyhow, I’m straying off the subject but this has prompted me to build a few more bird nest boxes which are now in place around my garden.  The sound of bird song is very noticeable this spring as there is little traffic noise.

The day passes quickly and cooking my evening meal is something to look forward to. Normally I shop up in the village every day and buy what takes my fancy for that evening’s meal. That’s all changed of course and now I delve into my store cupboard for inspiration, tonight I used rice and lentils to make dal bhat. Dal bhat is a traditional popular meal from Nepal consisting of rice and spiced lentils.  It is a staple food in these countries so as I have a good supply of rice and lentils I should be able to see out many weeks of isolation. I learnt to cook it fairly authentically whilst travelling in Nepal and I still have some spices bought there which are difficult to get in the UK.

What I’ll miss most are fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve tried to book supermarket deliveries but all the slots are taken so I’ve turned to a local fruit and vegetable firm who normally supply to the catering trade. I’ve just phoned them and they couldn’t have been more helpful, I’ve a box being delivered tomorrow. Maybe picture then and give a plug if they are up to scratch.

The evening is passed with maybe an hour trying one of the cryptic crosswords from my bumper book of TheTimes Crosswords. Then tonight I’m going to watch some films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Every year they normally host an adventure film festival and the organisers have selected a series of films to view free every Wednesday throughout this isolation period. Very good of them, thank you, my own little film festival – I’d get out the popcorn if I had any! Fell asleep halfway through the last film – just like the real cinema.

  Times moved on quickly and I don’t have much to show for it. That just about sums up my day. So don’t take any advice from me regarding isolation strategies as I don’t really have any except…

“Take one day at a time”

SOCIAL DISTANCING TO SELF-ISOLATION. Reasons to be cheerful.

It’s a wonderful time of the year with some exceptional weather, the blossoms are appearing and we’ve just gone onto British Summertime which I always look upon as a turning point.

My cat manages to sleep from dawn to dusk finding warm sunshine throughout the day. I’m jealous.

Last week I was going out for short walks from home Social Distancing as I went. Then this week I developed a sore throat, fever and headaches;  I’m sure, or almost sure, that this isn’t the coronavirus but the rules say if you have symptoms then Self Isolation is necessary for 7 days.

That’s no great hardship as I’m pretty self-reliant but I think I misread the rules and thought I was not to leave my house at all  [that is Shielding – we all have to get accustomed to these new terms]  So I’ve stopped going out altogether which is probably wise in any case. Hence no walking in this post.

I’m fine for food and medicines and have been pleasantly surprised by the offers of help in that direction. Thanks to those concerned.

My telephone line has never been so busy as I catch up with friends near and far.

And there is the bonus of a new friend who is almost hand tame after a couple of days gardening. On a larger scale, the night skies have been clear with a bright crescent moon and an even brighter Venus.

Lots of positives there.

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark II.

I’m trying to exercise whilst social distancing and at the same time reduce driving to a minimum. Yesterday I was on roads all the way and didn’t really enjoy the experience, today I’ll attempt another walk direct from home but this time avoiding busy roads so I’ll need to get my boots dirty.

So off we go. It is another beautiful day, the Spring Equinox. I’m soon into fields, yes they are boggy but I’m enjoying the bird song. For the record, I see Deer, Hares, a Stoat and lots of lambs. The lambs photographed better than the rest.

 

All around me are hills – the Bowland Fells, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell.

I pass a deserted country inn, the catering trades are having a hard time. Such a shame as everything is looking so good in the spring sunshine.

Towards the end of my walk, I use an old track to cut a corner off the road but wish I hadn’t as it was virtually impassible with mud and branches.

On the last stretch of road, I spot this beast waiting for restoration.

So today was more acceptable than yesterday but I still ended up with some road walking and the fields were very unpleasant in places.

Body count today, one pedestrian and one runner, both on the roads. Nobody was out in the fields despite the perfect weather. I think it is going to have to be all off-road but on decent tracks until the ground dries or we are all grounded.

*****