Category Archives: Longridge

THE WAY OF THE CROW. Second day, Bleasdale to Arbour, Calder Valley.

JD seemed worried when I described the next leg of our straight line way – “it is extremely rough going, the game keepers are unfriendly and there are rumours of a wild rhinoceros”. Despite all that he agreed to join us on his recommended shortened version. The picture above was taken from his house when I picked him up in the morning, The Bleasdale Fells which we had to cross are to the left of the higher Fairsnape group. Beacon Fell is far left.

The car park at Bleasdale Church was busy with Sunday worshippers.

It was a glorious sunny morning as we used field paths into the heart of Bleasdale discussing our individual Saturday night’s exploits, I probably had the largest hangover, Sir Hugh had been consructing a cat flap and JD entertaing his family.

Donning extra layers when we realised how cold it was.

No that’s not the rhino but pretty scary anyhow.

After the isolated Hazelhurst Farm we found the beginnings of a land rover track that would, via a series of zigzags, take us steeply into the open access area and onto the fell top. We puffed our way up with frequent stops to admire the views over the nearby Fairsnape/Parlick fells with Bleasdale and  the Fylde below. Surprisingly and fortunately another quad track led to the remote trig point, 429m, of Hazelhutst Fell. We are on grouse shooting moors up here and much has been written about the persecution of other wildlife in this vicinity to try to promote the shooting fraternity. Whatever one’s opinions about grouse shooting I am strongly against the wilful and unlawful killing of our protected species. On this stretch of the walk we came across several loaded Fenn Traps which are legally only allowed for stoat trapping [killing] but are known to trap other species. These are lethal looking spring-loaded traps which could almost take the tip off your walking pole.

From the trig point there were hazy views across Morecambe Bay to Black Combe and Barrow. Taking a compass bearing we set off across the heather in a NNW direction and fortunately found another quad bike track taking us down past shooting butts so avoiding all the heavy going. After what I’ve said about the grouse shooting land owners we were thankful for their tracks. The final descent was vertiginous. The surroundings were reminiscent of a Scottish Glen and we found the bridge over the Calder to the Victorian shooting cabin of Arbour. This must be one of the best kept secrets of Lancashire.

We found a sheltered spot out of the cold east wind for lunch. There were no windows into the shooting lodge to see the rhinoceros head. The story goes that a rhino escaped from a train near Garstang and had to be shot, it’s trophy head being mounted in the lodge.

By now all the excitement was over and we had an easy walk out on the track alongside the River Calder.  We were back at Sir Hugh’s car much sooner than we’d planned because of those good moorland tracks. We will have to walk back in next time to rejoin our line.

*****

 

THE WAY OF THE CROW. First day, Longridge to Bleasdale.

I was apprehensive, walking in a straight line as possible would take us on unfrequented paths, would the way be feasible. We left the village down overgrown Gypsy Lane and shortly after found a gate secured by a cord, a veritable Gordian Knot. Out came Sir Hugh’s, I’ll blame him, Swiss Army Knife and we were through.

‘Gypsy Lane’

We passed the ponds, ‘figure of eight’ where my children used to go fishing without much success but I’m sure they had an adventure away from parental supervision – they never drowned so I must have been doing something right.

The next farm-yard, where I’d previously climbed walls to escape, was now well signed and we even had a resident directing us to the hidden stile ahead though the accompanying foot plank, couldn’t call it a bridge, didn’t inspire confidence.

The slippery plank.

We reached a farm gate on a public footpath which was securely padlocked, no Swiss Army knife could cope, but as if on cue a lady drove up in her battered pick-up and opened up for us. Remonstrating about obstructed footpaths didn’t seem to be appropriate. All was pleasant rural scenery with scattered farms, some in better condition than others.

The next problem was of our creation, contentedly walking along the tiny River Loud we were almost in someone’s back garden when we realised we’d missed our path but fortunately a gate allowed our escape onto the road.

The infant Loud.

Things improved as we headed closer towards the Bowland Hills and Bleasdale. We passed the small rural Bleasdale School and headed for the church where our car was parked. We were last here in gale force Ali. A group of fell runners were just setting off for a quick few miles and we exchanged pleasantries. Walkers, climbers , cyclists, runners tend to have a common background.

Is that an Ofsted verdict?

We had completed the first leg of our project with very little deviation from the straight and narrow and to be honest no serious obstacles except a lot of slippery stiles. Our way ahead over Hazelhurst Fell could be seen, the fell runner is pointing the way, but will there be any paths?

Yet another slippery stile.

***** 

THE WAY OF THE CROW. LONGRIDGE TO ARNSIDE.

My good friend Sir Hugh  [http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/ ] inhabits that lovely village Arnside whereas I have to put up with the gross overdevelopment of Longridge. For the last few winters we have had projects to keep us active in the shorter days. He has emailed once or twice with suggestions for this year but nothing has struck me as original, boringly I seem to have walked most of the Long Distance Paths in the NW. I came up with a counter suggestion – why don’t we draw a straight line between our houses and follow it as closely as possible. I know this idea has been used before, particularly successfully  by Nic Crane on his straight line Two Degrees West journey from Berwick-on-Tweed to The Isle of Purbeck. I seem to remember he gave himself  a kilometre leeway either side but had a lot of media support, I wonder if we could be even stricter. True to form Sir High has taken the bait and the line has been drawn.

It is the wrong time of year for backpacking so we will split the route into day walks. The distance as the crow flies is 26.5 miles but we will be lucky to keep it under 35 miles. No rules except keeping as close to the line as possible preferably on footpaths or quiet lanes, legal ground or not. There are some obvious obstacles in the way – the fells of Bleasdale, the Rivers Wyre and Lune, Quernmore Hall Estate and the M6. It will be a challenge overcoming them, lets get started.

ALSTON – LOOPING THE LOOP.

As the crow flies it is 4 miles from Longridge to Samlesbury, where BAE Systems [previously British Aerospace] is based, however the River Ribble is only bridged at Ribchester or Preston both giving a far longer journey. A friend of mine would in summer take a short cut down Alston Lane and ford the river with his bike straight to work. Today I tried to identify the place he crossed but of course there was a lot of water running, I think the above photo is roughly the spot and I shall investigate further next summer.

Anyhow back to the beginning. Lethargy and other pressing problems these last few days have kept me in; it is easy to slip into this mood when the clocks change and Winter approaches, that is the reason I normally go off to sunnier climes. I planned this route last night and set the alarm so I was committed to venture forth. There was a window in the weather so timing was crucial which still gave me a leisurely breakfast. I was parked up at 10am,  My clockwise circuit ment walking on the main road for a few hundred metres alongside the ghastly development of new houses, all dumper trucks and lorries. Why have they seen fit to obliterate over a 100m of hedging to gain access to the fields? This did not put me in a good mood.

Thankfully I soon turned down Pinfold Lane  [pinfold – a pound for stray animals] and looked into the adjacent field where I found the base of the ancient Bolton Fold Cross which I’d not noticed before.

There were a couple with binoculars in the hides overlooking the wetlands adjoining the lane. I couldn’t see anything of interest except a long view to St. Lawrence’s Church and the prominent Dog Inn in Longridge.

Over towards Pendle there were darker clouds contrasting with the sunlit autumn foliage. Lanes linked little farms, most now converted into modern residences. A lot has changed since I last came this way. I bumped into the father of climbing brothers from the past and we chatted about old times. A farmer further on was more expressive [forthright as only farmers can be] about the world’s problems. All in a day’s walk. Hereabouts The Ribble Way crossed my path heading towards Ribchester on the line of a Roman road, of which there is little evidence.

Not all has been beautified.

 

This guy means business.

Dropping down fields I seemed to be heading to a cul-de-sac but there in the corner was a stile and a footbridge over the stream, all very delightful.


“falling leaves hide the path so quietly”
John Bailey

At last the object of my walk, the River Ribble, was glimpsed through the trees below. The river here makes a looping curve around flat fields with an escarpment on the south side. Ducks were floating in groups and when disturbed fired off in all directions like some of this weeks explosives. I do not understand why the Ribble Way doesn’t follow this delightful stretch of rural Lancashire.

Once past the ‘ford’ I was looking for C17th Old Alston Hall but only had a glimpse of it across private gardens. Higher up the lane is the C19th gothic Alston Hall which was used as an education centre by Lanc’s County Council until being sold to a private buyer. I won’t add fuel to the rumours of its recent extensive fire and plans for redevelopment. The observatory run by the University seems unaffected.

Old Alston Hall.

New Alston Hall and observatories.

It was a relaxing walk up Alston Lane, noticing all the recent residential conversions, back to my car. As I reached it the rain started in earnest – it’s all about timing.

*****

Possible ford in red.

 

 

‘BOWLANDCLIMBER’ – WHAT CLIMBER?

A little inspiration.

Anyone who has been following my posts this year or anyone searching ‘climbing’ will have noticed there has been no climbing. For various reasons I haven’t done a route for the first time in 40 – 50 years.* My climbing friends probably think I’ve died. This was brought home to me the other day when I happened to be in south Preston with one of my now ‘retired’ climbing partners.

I think we are near Denham Quarry” I mentioned,  “let’s go and have a look in

Easier said than done as we drove arround in a maze of forgotten narrow lanes and kept crossing and recrossing the motorway. All of a sudden Holt Lane appeared and the name rang a bell, sure enough a short distance down the lane the familiar car park appeared and there was the quarry.

And there was that striking clean quarry face with the obvious groove line of ‘Mohammed’

In we went and peered up the classic groove which had a few chalk marks on it. When did we last climb this – one for the history books. Its real title is, wait for it, Mohammed the Mad Monk of Moorside Home for Mental Misfits. What’s that all about?

Moving right under the main face other routes were recalled, most of them scary on small holds and poor gear. We survived.

And there was that deep pool, with unknown monsters in its depths, and the lovely soloable Splash Arete above it. Memories.

Back home I reflected that I probably would be struggling on those routes now but my enthusiasm was fired and on a sunny afternoon I’m up at Craig y Longridge traversing around on familiar territory at the easy far end. The crag is bathed in warm sunshine and I’m the only one here so I can laze around as much as possible. I can do the moves but my hands have become soft and soon my skin is protesting, enough.

* PS. The following morning I had a brief visit up to Kemple End and soloed a couple of short routes to break the year’s zero statistics.

 

HEDGEROW FRUITS.

After the rigours of last week’s walk in the gales I’ve returned to my usual stroll around Longridge.

I was very aware of the fruits in the hedges as I walked up the lane to the farm. The best of the blackberries have gone but I started to count others and wondered about their edibility and uses.

Hawthorn.  [Cretaegus monogyna]                                                                                  

Very prominent were the red berries of the Hawthorn bushes. Apparently the berries contain potent antioxidants and have been used in herbal remedies for heart problems. Leaving that aside I have found some recipes for jelly and tea, but I’m not convinced as yet.

 

 

Rose Hips.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Scrambling through the hedges were rose bushes with their characteristic red hips at this time of year. Now I know these do make a good jelly and also tea. The itchy seeds need to be removed first and apparently they are best after the first frost.

 

Rowan, Mountain Ash. [Sorbus aucuparia]

                                                                  
I’ve never before considered whether Rowan berries were edible but reading up about them shows they are, again mainly in jellies or jams.

 

 

Elder. [Sambucus nigra]

In past years I’ve made elderflower cordial but not used the berries. They can me used for wine making and also in pies and crumbles.

 

 

Blackthorn Sloes. [Prunus spinosa]

This year seems to have been good for the sloes on the blackthorn which grow commonly round here. I think their main use is for flavouring gin and other spirits.

So a short walk brought several possibilities of hedgerow fare, I will research a few recipes in more detail and return for some Autumnal pickings.

MY DAILY WALK, [well almost daily].

The weather has not been good since my return from France, I feel Autumn is upon us.

It’s noticeable how often I comment on the state of the weather at the start of a post. Is that a British trait, am I obsessed with the climate or does it just reflect the close connection of conditions with my pastimes?  I remember when I was younger and outdoor time at a weekend was precious we would sally forth on walks or climbs whatever the weather. That would result in a fair share of days with no views and a good soaking on the hill or gripping climbs on cold slippery wet rock. Many of those occasions are vivid in my memory, proof of the importance to me of outdoor adventures and the companionships they bring. Character building was a phrase used. Now I take more heed of the forecast and try to choose the better days for my enjoyment or more likely head abroad to avoid the worst of our winter weather.

I’ve rambled off the subject.  I intend, now I’m free of the PMR stiffness, to  do a regular local walk most days to build up my fitness once again. How often have I said that? I have a 4mile circuit on my doorstep that suffices. Not only does one get some healthy exercise but also some physic benefits thrown in.  There are countless literary quotations extolling the virtues of walking, one of the simplest  –  “I have two doctors: my left leg and my right leg.”  G M Trevelyan.

I complain a lot, and will continue to do so, about the housing developments in Longridge destroying the character of the town but I’m still able to do the walk above from the house into the country. Why drive anywhere in mixed weather when a walk can be accomplished from home.   A stroll down the road takes me past the cricket ground where today there was a match which I can stand and watch for a few overs. There’s something special about village cricket which makes it almost hypnotic to engage in, I think it is something to do with the enthusiasm of the players and the gentle clapping of the handful of spectators. Long may it be so. The lane I usually take up onto the fell gives a lovely view back across Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. The view is different with the seasons but gives a sense of space and nature within half a mile of leaving home. Today this was heightened by a pair of Buzzards wheeling and mewing above me. Time just goes by whilst you stand and watch. A glance over the reservoir at any other bird life – usually ducks and grebe. And a glance into Craig Y Longridge to see if anyone I know is climbing, not today with the damp conditions. My return down the town’s main street is more mundane but gives the opportunity for social engagement and grocery shopping.

A perfect little circuit, I’m off to do it again today when things will be different.

*****