Seth doesn’t appear Wednesday night, no sign of him. Thursday morning. I go round my neighbours checking garages and sheds. No sign of him along the road. The road that at the moment because of closures has become the main through route in Longridge. The traffic is non-stop, a cat doesn’t stand a chance of crossing the road — I should have kept him in.
Seth is named after the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. So why a female goddess? Well, when I took ‘her’ as a kitten thirteen years ago to be spayed, the vet announced she was a he. Oh! So I quickly changed her/his name to the masculine Seth and he was neutered.
Historians say the Egyptians revered the number nine because they associated it with their sun god, Atum-Ra. According to one version, Ra gave birth to eight other gods, (including Sekhmet). Since Ra often took the form of a cat, people began associating the nine lives (Ra plus eight) with feline longevity. In truth, they only have one like the rest of us but their agility often gets them out of serious situations.
I went to bed Thursday night fearing the worst. Friday morning there he was curled up at the bottom of the stairs. But he was not happy, a quiet moan and a tired look in his eyes showed he had a problem. I picked him up and realised the right back leg was hanging at an unusual angle, he showed distress if I moved the limb. How had he managed to drag himself home? Nine lives. A phone call to my local vet arranged an appointment that afternoon. They thought his hip was dislocated and would have to sedate him to try to relocate it. I was asked to come back at 7pm.
7pm. The receptionist explained they were still trying to manipulate it. Her concern was obvious. I sat in the waiting room, it felt like being in casualty at a hospital. I read all the notices on the walls. (I never knew lily stamens were deadly to cats and dogs)
7.30pm. Nigel, the vet, appeared with sweat on his brow “we are struggling to get the joint back into place”. It felt even more like casualty.
8.00pm. Nigel came back looking much happier, he had been successful. All I could do was thank him for his skill and persistence.
8.30pm. Seth had come round from his anaesthetic and was back in his basket. There had been no other injuries. I was given instructions for the next 24hours or so, and took him home. We both slept well.
Over the weekend he was placed in a roomy cage in the kitchen to give him space but avoid over movement. He slowly showed his indomitable spirit and demanded food. I gave him some chicken pieces as a treat. When he stood up, both rear legs seemed supportive. He complied with his restriction with a knowing look.
Back at the vets for a check-up on Monday morning. All the staff seemed pleased, and no doubt relieved to see him well. The star took it all in his stride (no pun intended) Keep him in the cage for a month to ensure there is no strain on the joint was the advice. He will need lots more treats! Thankfully, I have no plans to be away, so I can give him all the attention he deserves.
He can’t tell me what had happened — just another of his nine lives.
Not a footpath in sight, not a stile climbed, not a fell summited, and you will be pleased to hear not a church visited. Oh! Well, maybe just one. My heel is playing up just when the weather is bucking up. Not to be defeated, I drag my bike out of the garage and do a few short rides around Longridge. So today I was ready for a longer ride. Out to Bashall Eaves, Cow Ark, Chipping, Whitechapel and back, about 29 miles (47 km) or so.
Cycling brings a different aspect to one’s locality. No flowers to identify, no birds to watch, no passing conversations. Just the tarmac ahead and that steep ascent looming. Today I concentrate on the inns that I pass, past and present. In the Ribble Valley and Bowland we have been lucky to have had an excellent selection of quality establishments. Rural inns have a long pedigree, their names tell us much of the local history. Unfortunately the country inn has suffered from economic pressures and several hostelries have bitten the dust. Covid has had a serious effect on the hospitality business.
On my corner is the Alston Arms, now The Alston which has had several reincarnations since its establishment in 1841. It has survived the COVID lockdowns and seems as busy as ever with locals, a large outside seating area has helped. Strange that I have not visited since over two years ago, when it was the favourite venue of my friend developing Alzheimer’s disease. She always ordered the same — fish, chips and mushy peas. And they were good!
The second one encountered on the road is the Derby Arms, recently reopened after a period under a fish franchise, The Seafood Pub Company, It looked open today for lunch, so all is well, hopefully. The area around here was part of the Derby Estate. The Stanley Family, Earls of Derby, established lands in Thornley here, hence the pub’s name.
Along the way through Chaigley I pass the former Craven Heifer Hotel. The Craven Heifer became a popular pub name, particularly in the Craven area, so I don’t know how one popped up in Bowland. This hotel was a regular eating place at the end of the last century, it closed Christmas Eve 2008. Since then, it has been a private residence.
On the way down to the Hodder I passed these gates which are normally locked. Today they were open, and I had a quick peep into their lands, with a lake and a large house in view. No idea who lives here. Chadswell Hall.
I stopped off at the Higher Hodder Bridge, the river was as low as I’ve seen for a while. Just up the road is the former Higher Hodder Hotel. This was another hotel with a long period of serving good food and ales. It became well known to the fishermen casting in the Hodder below. I noticed on an old photograph a petrol pump in its forecourt, those days are long gone. Its demise came in 2001 with a severe fire from the kitchen. Bought by a local businessman and converted into apartments. It still has problems with erosion from below where the Hodder flows, undermining the banks. One day it may all fall into the river.
At the next crossroads I knew of an ancient milestone but had never stopped to investigate, Today I had a good look at it. There was lettering on two sides with mileages. On the West face To Preston 10M. To Gisburn M8. On the North face To Lancaster 16M. To Whalley M3. 1766. It turns out that this is Grade II listed.
The next pub is the Red Pump in Bashall Eaves. This had been closed for some time when it was resurrected by the present owners in 2014, who turned it into a ‘gastropub’ with accommodation including recently added Glamping Yurts and Shepherd Huts. I notice that it has restricted opening hours, so calling in for a pint is not always possible. The pub has a connection to a murder mystery that was never solved.
Some serious pedalling has to be done climbing the road towards Browsholme Hall who have got in on the café scene. No time to visit today. On through the strangely named hamlet of Cow Ark and soon I’m freewheeling down the road which follows the line of the Roman Road from Ribchester to Carlisle and back over the Hodder at Doeford Bridge.
The Gibbon Bridge Hotel is a little farther on and has a history only going back to 1982 when the family diversified from farming to catering. Over the years the hotel has grown and particularly in recent times with the focus on weddings. They still do a good lunch in the dining room, with magnificent views over the gardens and Chipping Vale.
Chipping at one time had three pubs in the village. The Talbot has been closed for years and is looking in a sorry state. Opposite, the Tillotson’s is now open again but has annoyingly random hours, they were missing trade today as lots of tourists were wandering around the quaint village.
The Sun has had a renaissance and is now thriving both as a locals’ drinking pub and a reliable eatery. It is reputedly the most haunted pub in Lancashire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA1MZp3WYdI I couldn’t resist a wander around the churchyard looking for Lizzie Dean’s gravestone.
The Cobbled Corner Café has not reopened — it was a favourite with cyclists.
The Dog and Partridge just outside the village dates from the 16th century but closed in 2018 and is up for sale for residential development. Sign of the times.
I now head out to Whitechapel on narrow lanes under the shadow of Beacon Fell, When I first came to this area in the early seventies a curiosity was the Cross Keys Inn run by a farming family. It had irregular hours depending on work on the farm, a quirky bar, a good pool table. Late night sessions were common. At times, if the landlord was busy elsewhere, there was an honesty box for the drinks you had consumed. The inn was known, tongue in cheek, as The Dorchester! It closed over a decade ago but was bought by a local builder who has restored it along with accommodation units and has recently reopened it. Again, as the case with many of these rural pubs they are not open every day, particularly at the beginning of the week, but it is good to see it trading and I’ve promised myself a pint there soon.
Down the road is yet another Lancashire village, Inglewhite, centred on a village green and a cross. The pub here is called The Green Man and has a date stone of 1809. Green Men go back to pagan times and are a fairly common inn name — the sign here depicts a typical Green Man. This pub has been closed off and on for several years, reflecting the difficulties of successfully running a rural inn. Let’s hope it stays open for the foreseeable future. It was not open today!
Homeward-bound now with tiring legs, I pass the last rural pub — Ye Horns Inn. An 18th century listed building that closed four years ago. It had been run as a family business for decades, famous for its Goosnargh Roast Duck reared down the road, and its unique wooden panelled snug located behind the bar. New owners have developed the site with residential properties, but hope to reopen the pub soon. I await with bated breath. Another unique feature here is the men’s urinal across the road from the pub. Not sure how many drunken patrons were run down on this precarious crossing.
It is strange that my trip around all these rural inns didn’t involve any alcohol intake but as you saw several are closed for good, others concentrate on dining and others have limited opening. With a bit of organisation and forward planning, a right good pub cycle could be achieved around the eight trading pubs— but whether it would be legal or safe to ride a bike at the end of it would be debatable.
There wasn’t a footballer, TV ‘Celebrity’ or landed gentry in the party that I met up with for today’s walk.
I couldn’t believe that after all my extra careful planning, they were the Cheshire Set after all, that our rendezvous spot had become a closed road this morning. Cary was seen further up the fell as others arrived more or less at the appointed time and place. We then moved all the cars to a better place.
The original ‘Around Longridge Walk’ has become redundant because of all the housing developments taking place and I’m looking to establish a more definitive rural circuit. My Guinea pigs had just arrived.
With black clouds over the Bleasdale Fells we set off in cool weather. Please be sunny and dry I thought, keen to show off the local countryside. They were the Cheshire Set after all. Green fields led down to Lord’s Quarry and the end of the railway that took the stone from all the Longridge quarries to build the towns and cities of the NW.
Mile lane was its usual half mile.
Clay Lane was avoided, too much wet clay, as I expertly navigated through nearby fields. By then it was time for morning coffee and pieces of Martin’s excellent chocolate chip biscuits. The sun shone. The long ridge of Longridge Fell was seen almost in full extent with the village at its lower end.
We were soon on the normally quiet Ashley Lane just as rush hour began and there was strangely almost constant traffic. Despite Alastair and Sue preferring to carry on along the road the rest of us turned off to go through the minor industrial estate of Sandbank. This industrial area was just a warm-up for the massive timber Wyder complex across the road. Floors and roof trusses are constructed here to be shipped off to distant building developments.
Back to country lanes we were then confronted by one of those large modern tractors with just enough room to pass.
Green Nook Lane led to a constricted path through more industrial units and out onto the track of the Longridge – Preston Railway, originally a track for horse-drawn carts carrying stone from the quarries to Preston and afar. Steam trains took over and a passenger service was run until 1930, goods which now included products from Longridge cotton mills continued into the fifties. Farther down the line at Grimsargh a branch line served Whittingham Mental Institution, at one time the largest hospital in Europe. We are left with a gravel track traversing the fields but unfortunately blocked off in places denying the chance to provide a green way from Longridge into Preston. Lack of initiative and planning.
The dog at the next farm was gathered into the owner’s arms as we tramped through their garden. Lunch was beckoning and the multitude of benches in the graveyard at Alston Church proved an ideal convenient and comfortable stopping point. They were the Cheshire Set after all. Social distancing proved no problem.
The spot we randomly chose was adjacent to the grave of Ginio Ferrari a well known local restaurateur. In his heyday he used to drive around in an open-top Jag with GF 1 plates. Apparently he had acquired these from the Rolls-Royce previously owned by George Formby, GF 1.
A stretch of pleasant countryside brought us back to the outskirts of Longridge and Tan Yard lane leading back to the quarries. Views from here across the reservoirs to Pendle and the West Lancashire moors.
We skirted the large caravan site hidden in the quarry to arrive back at the cars. One last treat was to look at the overhanging bouldering delights of Craig y Longridge.
We were lucky with the weather – more sun than showers, and I think Lancashire put on a good show for the Cheshire Set. I in turn thank them for making the effort to drive up the M6.
Must get this post out before Martin or I will be accused of plagiarism. [too late] I didn’t take many photos of the surrounding countryside or hills, I’ve enough of those already, but here Is a flavour of the day.
Most awkward stile of the day.
Easier European standard ‘stile’ – Conrad
Cary giving us all the lines of the magpie rhyme.
Inspecting Thirlmere’s water supply.
A less than grave lunch.
An introduction to Craig Y Longridge.
I’d noticed this morning a couple of helium balloons stuck in my cherry tree and resolved to retrieve them later. On my return there was a knock at the door from my neighbour asking if he can have his balloons back. He had recently retired and been to a party to celebrate – hence the balloons, they unfortunately escaped from his kitchen last night but didn’t go far. We fished them down and he went home as pleased as punch. Happy retirement Mike.
Today I went out to try and improve the route by avoiding too many main roads and keeping outside the circle of ever-increasing hosing developments. I also had a new camera which I wanted to play with, it has far too many features for me to come to terms with quickly.
What a beautiful Easter Monday, blue skies, lots of sunshine and a cold wind. Perfect. Well not quite – they have taken out all the hedges on a new development. Our slate artist has summed it up nicely on a Hedge Sparrow triptych. [Richard Price – see transcript at end of post.]
I linked up with the route on Pinfold Lane where several parties were scanning the wetlands with binoculars.
I had a brief look, there is a digger in the background, and carried on my way down towards Bury’s Farm. A farmer was rolling his field – a picture from the past.
I found a better, more rural, route around Alston and on across the main road. I found my way through peoples drives and gardens back into fields before picking up the old rail Preston – Longridge line and onto home ground. The blackthorn and cherries were blossoming.
It has been a walk of contrasts – trying to balance the rural with the creeping urbanisation. It’s time for the hills.
You don’t see many hedges these days, and the hedges you do see they’re not that thorny, it’s a shame, and when I say a hedge I’m not talking about a row of twigs between two lines of rusty barbed wire, or more likely just a big prairie where there were whole cities of hedges not fifty years ago, a big desert more like, and I mean thick hedges, with trees nearby for a bit of shade and a field not a road not too far off so you can nip out for an insect or two when you or the youngsters feel like a snack, a whole hedgerow system, as it says in the book, and seven out of ten sparrows say the same, and that’s an underestimate, we want a place you can feel safe in again, we’re social animals, we want our social life back, and the sooner the better, because in a good hedge you can always talk things over, make decisions, have a laugh if you want to, sing, even with a voice like mine!
My birthday happens to coincide with the date Lockdown commenced last year. There seemed quite a fuss about this [not my birthday], whilst I have every sympathy with the thousands of families affected by Covid deaths and they should not be forgotten, I am not one for lighting candles or creating memorial days for an event we have not dealt with very satisfactorily. I would almost go so far as to say they are devious attempts by the government to distract our attention from the failings and flag wave for our vaccine successes. Dangerous tactics.
Back to today’s walk, which I have completed many times recently, to make an occasion of it I took a picnic with me to enjoy higher up. Last year I visited the limestone quarry opposite Arbour Farm occasionally for its wildlife so as I pass today I have a look in. There are a couple of roe deer scampering away and a hare following. It’s too soon for any significant flowers but there a few mallards on the water and pheasants taking cover. In the past this area has been used as a shoot and the birds fed in the season. All around are spent shotgun cartridges. I take particular note as I’ve just been reading a DEFRA report of the latest attempts to ban lead ammunition. Lead ammunition could be phased out under government plans to help protect wildlife and nature, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced today (23 March). There has been a wealth of evidence that lead is damaging to humans, wildlife and the environment and yet a large amount of lead ammunition is discharged every year. Apart from the yearly slaughter of birds there is research showing wild fowl ingest lead pellets, mistaken for food, causing considerable deaths from poisoning. The Government have been slow to do anything about it and a voluntary transition by the shooting industry has not worked. A recent review showed the majority of game birds sold to the public had been killed using lead shot. So all change then – well not quite – the Government is proposing a two-year review of the evidence and then public consideration. A typical fudge when the hunting and shooting brigade are involved. Why don’t we just get on and ban it now. [In Denmark, hunters have had to use alternatives since 1996, when lead shot was banned]
Moving on I made my way up onto the fell and found a sheltered spot for my simple Birthday picnic in a little quarry nearby. I have recently started climbing in here again after many years, there is a small wall suitable for bouldering away from the Covid crowds that are making themselves unwelcome at the usual bouldering spot, Craig Y Longridge. It is up here that I have been regularly seeing Barn Owls flying around at dusk. Today a kestrel was hovering not far from me and a pair of Buzzards were wheeling high in the sky. Nice place for a picnic in the sun.
I wander home down the switchback lane. I had various texts etc appear on my phone from absent friends and family and in my porch a box of beer and a single malt. Not such a bad birthday after all.
I’ve struggled to put a post together this week, in fact I’ve struggled to do much at all. Are we all getting burnout? This afternoon I went on a wake-up walk around the village.
There is a new shop opened, ‘Bowland Organics’, the clue is in the name. It is getting good reviews for the freshness of its vegetables and other local produce. Most days the artisan bread is sold out within hours, as it should be. It is closed by the time I walk by, so you will have to wait for my opinion.
Just up the road, Berry Lane, I see that one of the slate poems has been smashed, not simply broken but obviously vandalised into many pieces. I’ve been commenting on and photographing these poems since they started appearing almost a year ago. See here,there and everywhere. All were chosen to give hope and enlightenment in our troubled times, and I’ve found inspiration from them in my local wanderings. I’m sad at the sight but then notice that against the tree another poem has appeared, this time by Emily Dickinson.
As it was.
The new slate.
My last post had a heading photo of nearby Hope Lane so lets all hope for the better.
I have just returned from one of my around Longridge walks. One keeping to the hard surfaces. It is wild and windy, cool with more rain due shortly. I acknowledged and chatted to friends in passing, even their dogs are getting to know me. It is surprising how many have tested positive for the Covid virus and been ill, I’m glad I have kept myself semi isolated. and I’ve had one vaccination six weeks back now.
The not so Merry-Go-Round continues as we are urged to stay at home, I did the same yesterday and no doubt tomorrow I’ll repeat a similar walk.
But cases, hospital admissions and deaths are coming down, and schools are back. So what may we plan for in the coming weeks? I need to remind myself of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ for coming out of lockdown. As I think they apply to me –
From 29 March:
People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens
The stay at home rule will end, but the government will urge people to stay local as much as possible
Stage two (no earlier than 12 April):
All shops allowed to open, along with hairdressers.
Restaurants and pubs allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
Members of the same household can take a holiday in the UK in self-contained accommodation
Stage three (no earlier than 17 May):
People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
Six people or two households can meet indoors
Pubs and restaurants can seat customers indoors
Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
International leisure travel may resume.
There is little guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene or face mask wearing. Perhaps the scientists will remind us of those in due course.
All the above depending on –
The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan.
Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying or needing hospital treatment.
Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.
New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.
Where does that leave me? Well from the end of March I can walk locally with up to six people which is an improvement. My son who lives local can come for a brew in the garden but I’m not sure if I can meet up with my family from Manchester, too distant. In April, I can get my hair cut and stay in self-catering accommodation, though a lot is already booked up. I assume travelling further afield is then permitted. Not until May could I stay in a hotel or B&B. I have no desire to rush abroad whilst European cases are high or variants about, Ryanair’s emails to me suggest otherwise.
I have a few short backpacking trips in quiet areas of the UK on the slow burner so they are a possibility either with B&B’s or taking a tent to be independent. I’d better retrieve one of my tents from the back of the cupboard to check it for worthiness. Even better I should be able to meet up with friends I’ve not seen for a year for some exercise and a pint. I have a feeling that any outing is going to feel rather strange, I will have to get into a different mindset – a lot has changed in a year. I think any alpine trip can wait till next year but what about the Canaries next winter? I did spot this on the fell last week…
Oh well, don’t hold your breath I will be around Longridge again tomorrow. Treat yourself to a little Pete Green…
My last walk, at the weekend with Mike, was through the fields and lanes of Chipping Vale with a little nibble at the west end of Longridge Fell. All very repetitive, so much so I didn’t take a single photo but the conversation must have been good. A couple of days have been spent festering, you know how it is. Today started slowly until I made the effort to get going and put some mileage under my belt. Starting from home the obvious way to increase my mileage was to continue along the road to the north of Longridge Fell before striking to the top. I noticed a few more roadside signs on the way.
Lee House Church.
Exquisite carved trough.
C17th Thornley Hall.
Entering Chaigley. Note the rake as a notch in the fell side woods.
I did consider going all the way to Higher Hodder Bridge but as I hadn’t set out till 1pm I thought it a little ambitious. [another time] I left the road at Rakefoot Farm and climbed the steep rake from there up onto the fell east of the summit. Once on the ridge I threaded my familiar way through the trees and into the open at the trig point. There was nobody else about. From up here one gets a bird’s eye view of the Thornley road below which I’d walked earlier.
It is all downhill from Jeffrey Hill to Longridge, a good way to end the afternoon.
The last couple of days I’ve been out bouldering in all that lovely sunshine. My arms and shoulders are now rebelling. I felt like a longer walk so planned this one on roads for today. It was grey and cold this morning, so I managed to faff around until after a light lunch, brisk walking was then the order of the day. The road through Thornley doesn’t always have a pavement so dodging from side to side on the corners is necessary. I passed Lord’s Lane and Birks Brow, two regular ways up onto the fell and continued on past Thornley Hall to climb the steep lane up Jeffrey Hill, this part of Longridge Fell. [see inserted map and elevation graph]
Even today there were plenty of cars in the car park by Cardwell House, but they would not have any views as the Bowland Hills were in cloud.
Cutting through Cowley Brook plantation, my latest discovery, avoided a little of the road to the Newdrop. I was then on the switchback road heading down to Longridge. It wasn’t a day for taking pictures or for meeting people so I was soon back home but glad of the exercise.
Somewhere I have a small tatty leaflet from many years ago detailing a walk around the outskirts of Longridge with a sketch map showing the route. I might yet find it.
Anyhow, I felt I knew the way so after lunch today I ventured out to join the circuit. The walk keeps to the rural edge of the village for most of the way and hasn’t been encroached upon in too many places by the new housing developments. Below is a more than detailed description of the route with photos of the obvious sections which I intend to provide for local usage.
A good place to join the circuit is on Higher Road near John Smith’s Playing Field and the old Quarryman’s Arms pub where there is parking. Round the corner you go down a cutting, Tan Yard, into old quarry workings. There are some stone houses here, one looks as though it could have been the quarry master’s house, there are good views over the reservoirs to West Lancashire.
On down Tan Yard lane to reach the busy Lower Road.
Almost opposite is a farm lane with elaborate gate posts. It leads to a cheese and meat packing plant. A stile leads ahead, and then you bear right to another stile giving access to a green lane going south. At its end cross the field diagonally towards the far right corner.
Finding a footbridge down on the right and up to the sturdiest stile in the Ribble Valley. A field to Alston Grange Farm.
At the farmyard go round to the left of all the buildings and then rightwards to a stone stile on the Alston Grange farm access lane. Go left here.
At the next lane you turn left onto a path past a collection of eco lodges. At its end go over a stile turn right and follow fields north of the reservoir.
At the end of the field a lane goes left around the reservoirs and then right onto the tarmacked Pinfold Lane. Along here are some bird watching hides on the redundant Alston 3 reservoir.
At the end of the lane [notice the old stone cross base in the field on the left at the corner] you join the busy Preston Road and cross over to follow the pavement past the Franco’s Italian Restaurant and Forshaw’s Yoghurt Dairy until opposite the White Bull Inn a concreted track, the left one, goes towards Daniel’s Farm.
Once through the farmyard a rough track goes across fields over a stile and footbridge to follow the hedge until a metal gate on the right gives access to the football pitches. Go straight across to the car park and then go left through the gates, across the old railway and Shay Lane.
Directly opposite a path goes alongside sawmills to cross a small stream and then turn right up Green Nook Lane.
This comes out onto Whittingham Road near new housing. Follow it left until a turn into Halfpenny Lane. Halfway along you pass the historic Old Rib Farmhouse on the left and a little further take a footpath diagonally left to join Inglewhite Road where you walk up the pavement out of Longridge.
From Inglewhite Road you branch off into Clay Lane. This has been a droving route into Longridge in the past and there was once a clay brickworks along it.
You emerge onto the Chipping road at a bend and walk on until you can take Mile Lane leading up towards the tail of Longridge Fell. I have come this way many times.
At the top bear right and go through trees on a narrow path, which had been a rail line to a small quarry, and then head left up through the park to pass a children’s’ play area and the old tunnel, now blocked, taking a branch rail track into the major Tootle Heights Quarry, You emerge from the park and go left to Higher Road and your starting point.
After a lot of searching I’ve found the piece of paper with a map of the route. It is marked as page 12, but I’ve no idea where it originated from. Perhaps some of my Longridge readers may have a similar copy. I suspect its vintage is 40 years ago. I notice that I didn’t quite follow the suggested route at Pinfold Lane, so I returned to walk the leaflet way past Bury’s Farm. It is poor with broken stiles, indistinct paths and a horror of a farmyard at Bolton Fold, so I think my Pinfold Lane is better despite a little further by the road. I have shown both routes on my map below.
Some years ago a Longridge Partnership Action Group alongside Ribble Valley Borough Council produced an attractively illustrated pack detailing 6 walks in the area, One of these is the same route as the one I walked above.
Another leaflet you may come across details Heritage Walks within the town itself.
These may still be available. The Railway Café Heritage Centre is a good place for information, in more normal times.
You just had to be out these last three days, perfect dry and sunny conditions. I managed three walks and enjoyed blue skies each day on the lanes around Longridge. Below is a snapshot of each day.
For the trip around Bleasdale I met up with Mike and despite the forecast of below zero temperatures there was no wind so it felt almost like a spring day. We extended the walk from Bleasdale Tower to Delph Lane as we were enjoying the conditions so much. I’m glad we did as it gave a sighting of a barn owl flying low in front of us. The coast looked very near in the clear conditions.
The next day I had just intended to follow the road loop up onto Longridge Fell, but I couldn’t resist the continuation up to the trig point and into the forest, the usually boggy terrain was frozen solid. The Bowland Hills are virtually clear of snow whereas Pendle looks plastered. On the return I wandered into plantations at Cowley Brook, I had seen cars parked here previously, and I found new leisure tracks opened up by the water board, I will have to visit again for a full exploration.
Today I drove a short distance out of town and walked the quiet lanes up to Beacon Fell, there were a few people about near the summit but I virtually had the place to myself. All was still and peaceful. I wonder if we will get any more snow this winter?
There is a bridleway running between Alston Lane and Hothersall Lane south of Longridge. I have not used it for years. The importance of this bridleway, at least for me today, is that it passes by the house of a good friend. I have heard through the grapevine, as you do in these parts, that my good friend’s wife has fairly rapid onset “dementia”. Rather than phone him I thought it a good idea to call by, ‘in passing’. Well despite giving me a good walk it didn’t work – he was not at home. So I am back at home and ready to phone him with the thoughts of the onslaught of dementia fresh in my mind. I would have much rather have seen him in person on the bridleway.
On a lighter note as I walked back up Hothersall Lane I came across a heavily laden lorry parked up. The driver jumped out to ask me the whereabouts of Hothersall Farm. According to his satnav it was in an adjacent field. I was able to give him the correct information so my day was not entirely lost.
Halfway up the steep Birk’s Brow lane I stopped for a breath; there was little to see in the murk, my mind had switched off a mile back, I was not even sure why I was there. Had I come to my Covid lockdown impasse? Had the repetition and boredom caught up with me? Was there a way out from this pandemic? I was taken aback by this negativity that had suddenly descended upon me. Was my hope fading? I had imagined I’d been coping well with all the setbacks and heartaches of the last year but was this the reckoning I had to face? Too many questions for which I couldn’t find an answer. I moved on in a cloud of my own making.
I have mentioned in several posts the poems written on old slates that have appeared around Longridge during these troubled times. Uplifting themes and thoughts for us all to share. I often wondered who was the artist of these calligraphic verses. Well around the corner a lady pulled up in her car and proceeded to pick up the cracked slate there. “Do you know ?… are you the person ?…” I’d stumbled on the originator of all these slate poems. She had started with one and then been encouraged to do more with friends recommending poems. I was overjoyed to speak to the lady.
My day was saved, and I walked on through Longridge with a spring in my step.
The frost and snow have gone, for now. Today is misty and murky, I can’t even see the fell from my house. I had a low level walk planned along the roads back to Grimsargh for another look at the wetlands, today would be ideal. On the way I dropped off an apple crumble for my friend in Brabiner Lane, he wasn’t in so will find it hopefully on his doorstep later. Brabiner Lane is renowned for its twisty narrowness and is best avoided in a car. With little traffic at present I crept carefully around its bends. I passed the embankment where there had been a bridge for the branch railway line to the old Whittingham Hospital mentioned in the above post. It was depressing to see so much litter along the verges. More new housing was going ahead at the entrance to Grimsargh Green.
Welcome to Grimsargh.
I chatted to a friend on the Green about our Covid vaccinations – the hot topic at the moment, She has managed to get two, I have mine on Sunday hopefully.
When I explored the ‘wetlands’, redundant reservoirs, a couple of weeks ago they were frozen over, and I didn’t find my way to the viewing hide. Today I found the gate leading to the hide – it was locked [Covid precautions] but I managed to climb over and enter the reserve. Very impressive. At least this time there was open water with a few ducks, geese and coots paddling about. I walked on to the bridge separating the mere from the reed beds and was able to see lapwings roosting on the misty island. My camera is not good enough to pick them out. Whilst here a gentleman from Longridge appeared with his binoculars and we exchanged observations. He used to be a postman and still walks miles every day, our paths often cross.
I walked back along the busy main road and the only other thing to note is the discovery of yet another of those ‘slate poems’ propped up on a tree, They have appeared during this pandemic, which is almost a year’s duration, and are usually reflective and uplifting. On the other side of the tree some less artistic wag has left this offering…
The sun never came out, it was as misty when I arrived home as when I had left.
A hard frost greeted me this morning with little hope of the temperature rising above zero throughout the day. I decided on a brisk walk around the lanes circling Knowle Green. Up to the New Drop, turn right down to the Knowle Green road, along Greenmoor Lane, back up Preston Road and Tan Yard. It was a grey day with the hills holding on to some of yesterday’s snow. The highlight early on being catching the Highland Cow and her youngster in a better photographic pose. I tried to capture a kestrel in hovering mode. After that I just marched around the circuit to keep warm.
NW Tonight had a feature on what keeps people happy during lockdown with all the inevitable children and pets videos. It did however set me thinking what keeps me happy. It’s difficult to say; I’ve hardly seen my family in 10months, I’ve lost two of my best friends, I’ve not been abroad for a year or more, the weather’s not that good, I’m eating and drinking too much, the house needs a good clean, I didn’t get out of my dressing gown the other day. Enough.
But the phone never stopped last night, even when I was about to eat, friends wanting to chat, friends needing to unload their latest worries, family checking up on me, friends sharing a joke about Trump, friends despondent with the crisis. I eventually ate at 10pm and just had time to plot a route for today, Friday. I felt a little happier.
The day broke sunny and bright for my planned walk – down to Ribchester and back to look at the Ribble in high water. There have been floods in many parts of the country but mercifully the Ribble Valley has escaped this time.
A gentleman, who turned out to be a fisherman, approached me and asked as to the whereabouts of Spade Mill Reservoirs, I was going that way, so we fell into step as I guided him down Tan Yard. He had driven up to Longridge from …. to look at the possibilities of future fishing in our reservoirs if only he could find a way in. There was no entry where I had imagined, so we walked on to The Corporation Arms. [A pub uniquely owned by a water board, Preston] I left him in his search and set off down the main road. In a few hundred metres I bumped into a couple I know leading to a 15minutes, socially distanced, catchup chat. Another few hundred metres and another couple and another 15minutes chat. Next my mobile rang, it was the doctors’ surgery inviting me for my Covid vaccination. That did make me happy.
Spade Mill Reservoirs.
At the site of the old Ribchester Hospital, once a work house, then a ‘mental institution’ and now residential properties, I turn down Fleet Lane. On past converted barns which always seem to be bigger and better than their parent farms.
‘The administrative block of Ribchester Hospital’ – that was.
‘Country living’ – that was.
I had to commit to the sodden fields sooner than later. High meadows leading to the Ribble. The river was high but not flooding into the fields.
Passing Boat House barn and house alerted me to a footpath leading to the River Ribble opposite Osbaldeston Hall, where old maps show a ferry and a ford.
Osbaldeston Hall across the river at the site of the ferry.
I decided to follow a trod, unmarked on the map, by the rushing river which turned out to have stiles and a footbridge.
Site of ford?
It linked up with a marked Bridleway taking me around fields to go through an industrialised farmyard where I was challenged – “there is no way through here “. (Checking with the Lancashire County Council website later the right of way seems to have been moved but not uploaded onto my OS map.)
Guardians of the countryside.
I was in my rights to enter the churchyard of St. Wilfrids where there is a Saxon cross base and a bench to eat my sandwich. You can read more of the church and the neighbouring Roman Museum in a walk I did at the end of 2019.
A local man told me that the river had reached dangerous levels yesterday but had gone down thankfully. My footpath past the school had been inundated leaving a muddy mess.
I opted for a straightforward walk up the pavement of Preston Road as far as Angels Restaurant (formerly The Cross Keys Inn) Here I took the quiet Ward Green Lane steeply up to the Written Stone, onwards up another washed out path.
When we came this way in November a man was repairing a wall, his work is now finished, but I wonder if it was worth it as the next stretch is decidedly ropey.
Through the former Green Bank Quarry, now housing and the infamous Craig Y Longridge with views over the Spade Mill Reservoirs passed earlier in the day. Higher Road and Longridge were busy with socially distanced walkers.
The walk, the sunshine and the chance meetings have helped my happiness scale.
Bear with me, if anything interesting happens on one of these local walks from home I will let you know. Today was a grey day and I left Longridge at noon to wander some lanes and footpaths between here and Goosnargh.
I met a lady who was incensed that a dog had scratched her piece of lawn on the roadside, it looked innocuous to me. I suspect she would not be a good neighbour. A cyclist passed me on Ashley Lane. I left the road at Stump Cross and walked through the egg factory of Field Foot Farm and then on through boggy fields towards the church in Goosnargh.
Another quiet lane with horse riders led on to Broadeth Lane and then Ford Lane. I dread to think what this would be like if it was up to the 6-foot level. New House Farm is possibly one of the oldest in the district. The Cottage restaurant is a throw back to the 50s, prawn cocktails, chicken in a basket and sherry trifle. I diverted to have a look at Hill Chapel, another RC established from the C18th and run for many years by Franciscan and then Benedictine monks. There is some history at – http://www.stfrancisgoosnargh.org.uk/ Walking around the graveyard I came across the recent grave of a friend of mine, a sad reminder of his vivid personality.
Next I walked through the grounds of the fishing lakes owned by Horns Dam. The dam was originally the water source for Goosnargh Cotton Mill which I had passed earlier in the day. I knew the next stretch through fields that have been divided up with electric fences for the nearby horse stables would annoy me. And it did. I have complained to the authorities about the loss of public rights of way in this location but nothing seems to have been done.
Again I set off from home on familiar paths to Gill Bridge where I skated up the icy road before I took the path along Elmridge. Elmridge is a small eminence in the Vale of Chipping between the Bleasdale Fells and Longridge Fell, its position giving it good views of the area. These views are better on the road across the top rather than on my footpath along the southern side, but I’d not walked this way for several years. A friend has moved into a little house along here, so I was able to have a few words in passing. The family have adopted lots of stray kittens and have some fine fowl. The next farm along, again owned by a friend who has recently died is surrounded by woodlands that he planted over the years, a fitting memorial.
It wasn’t the clearest of days but Longridge Fell was always there.
In Hesketh Lane I passed the site of an old mill now strangely used as a depot for a local coach firm. The mill stream is clearly visible and a notice tells of recently installed fish ladders to allow fish and eels access higher up the stream. The Dog and Partridge is sadly closed, like several other old inns of the area. Notice the cheese press stone, a common sight in this area of Lancashire. I took the curiously named Judd Holmes Lane through frozen fields leading me back to the Knott Farm where I was the other day.. This time I made the detour to visit the little church at Lee House. Be sure to have a look at – https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Chipping/stwilliam/index.html for some interesting history.
I then joined the crowds walking along the pavements to Longridge. We should all be a lot fitter after this pandemic is over.
The main road from Longridge to Chipping, which is busier than ever, passes through the small parish of Thornley with Wheatley which you won’t have heard of. It is not a village but merely a scattering of houses and farms. Today’s walk came this way. I’m resigned to those local footpaths that I walked to death in last Spring’s lockdown, but I’m looking for variations. Yesterday it rained continuously, and I didn’t get out of my dressing gown such is the tedium of Covid-19 lockdown that brings inertia on me one or two days a week. But today the sun shone and I had roughly plotted this route the night before which gives a degree of impetus to get up and go.
I leave Longridge along a rather boggy Clay Lane, the snow has gone and the frost is dispersing. Back in the last century there were tile works hereabouts. I was soon across the fields to Gill Bridge over the infant River Loud, today running fast with melt water. I traversed the estate of Blackmoss owned by the Lord Derby family since the C18th. The Derby Arms in is just up the road as is Thornley Hall. Vague paths which I know well crossed over to The Knott farm which is lying empty since the farmer died last year. He was seeped in the land and always seen in his tweed jacket and wellington’s, you could always tell if he was in the local supermarket by a distinct manure odour. He would turn up at my house occasionally with either a tray of 36 eggs or a basket of field mushrooms if they were in season. His sort will be sadly missed.
The empty Knott Farm
I recrossed the Loud and took the little lanes past Wheatley Farm house, 1774, at the base of Longridge Fell. Down the road is Lee House RC church and the old Thornley School which I didn’t visit and wished I had.
Lane to Wheatley.
Eventually I had to commit to the climb past Dale House and into the woods before coming out onto the golf course above. I was then back on that road leading back to Longridge which I’ve used regularly the last few weeks.
Dale House farm.
Parlick and Fairsnape from the golf course.
Old gate post to Longridge Golf Course established with Preston Cycling Club.
A short diversion was taken to see if I could get a photo of that highland cow with its calf. I managed a better picture of the mother but the infant kept its backside to me. A friend was climbing at Craig y Longridge our local bouldering venue and others were out running up the fell, everyone taking advantage of the sunny weather. An extract from The Lancashire Village Book gives more history here – http://www.visitoruk.com/Blackburn/thornley-with-wheatley-C592-V28146.html