Category Archives: Longridge

JEFFREY HILL.

Wednesday.  3rd March.     8.5 miles.    Longridge.

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.

I wonder if they have published the minutes yet.

The steep bit.

Misty parking at Jeffrey Hill.

Cowley Brook Plantation.

*****

THE ROUND LONGRIDGE WALK.

Monday. 15th February.     6.5 miles.     Longridge.

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.

BLUE SKY DAYS.

Wednesday  10th January.   6.5 miles.    Bleasdale.

Thursday  11th January.  8.5 miles.     Longridge Fell.

Friday  12th January.  7 miles.  Beacon Fell.

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?

***

 

BETWIXT AND BETWEEN,

Tuesday,  February 9th.     6.5 miles.    Longridge.

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.

       *****

ALMOST A NOTHING WALK.

Thursday 4th February.  5 Miles.  Longridge.

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.

Birk’s Brow.

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.

 

*****

MELLOW MISTS.

Wednesday27th January.     7.25 miles.    Grimsargh.

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 BRISK WALK.

Sunday 24th  January.    8 miles.    Knowle Green.

  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.

*****

THE RIBBLE AT RIBCHESTER.

  1. Friday 22nd January.    10miles.       Ribchester.

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.

 

Boathouse Farm.

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.)

Approaching Ribchester.

Guardians of the countryside.

Disputed Bridleway.

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.

*****

A QUIET SUNDAY.

Sunday  17th January.    7.5 miles.     Goosnargh.

   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.

I was home for an early tea.

Eggs galore.

The church at Goosnargh.

Garden ornaments.

 

1733

Afternoon tea?

Hill Chapel.

Public right of way.

AN ICY ELMRIDGE.

Friday 15th January.     6.75 miles.    Longridge.

 At the risk of becoming repetitive…

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.

                                                                                     Bleasdale Fells.

*****

THORNLEY-WITH-WHEATLEY.

                                                                                       Thornley School.

Tuesday. 12th January.    7.5miles.     Longridge

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.

Wheatley Farm.

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

*****

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

THE RIVER RIBBLE AT ALSTON.

Friday 8th January.     8.5 miles.      Alston.

I last did this walk in November 2018,a day in late Autumn.  There is probably not a lot more to say about it, but here goes.

In a chance comment a couple of days ago on walking locally I mentioned that I was missing having water close by. No sooner said, than I had the map out to find a circular from home incorporating a stretch along the River Ribble. It is still freezing hard but the overnight snow never appeared.

I strolled along slippery lanes and farm tracks to reach open country.  The fields were badly rutted from bovine hooves, one second frozen the next and my foot was deep in mud. At least the beasts were in their winter quarters, I’ve had a few scary moments with excitable charging cows this year. The footpath steepened into a little valley and then onto a lane at the bottom. I met a few dog walkers I knew but otherwise I didn’t see anybody for most of the day.

The walk changes character here as it comes alongside the River Ribble to follow it full circle around the flat peninsular flood plain. There were a few ducks and I saw a cormorant take off and fly overhead but otherwise all was silent. Even the river flowed quietly and slowly by, looking black and ominous. I reached the shallow weir, possibly an old ford, where the water quickened its pace and danced along out of sight. This is where my waterside walk ended, and I took to the roads for the way back to Longridge.

The day had been rather grey and overcast with no distant views, but I thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery.

*****

IN SEARCH OF GRIMSARGH WETLANDS.

Sunday 3rd January. 2021.        8 miles.        Grimsargh.

Last year I had a chance meeting with an old acquaintance from many years ago. He has always been a  keen amateur naturalist. I have on a wall in my study a collection of Mountain Butterflies he gave me 40 years ago, when it was still acceptable to stick pins through insects. When I met him last he told me about work he had been doing on some redundant reservoirs in neighbouring Grimsargh. They were being converted into nature wetlands, and he encouraged me to visit. So that was my plan today. I was halfway out of Longridge when I realised, too late, I’d forgotten my pocket binoculars!

There used to be a railway from Longridge to Preston calling at Grimsargh. It served the stone quarries in Longridge from1840 but also provided a passenger service [closed 1930] and a goods service for the cotton mills until 1967. I should write a post one day on what remains of the line in the area.  From Stone Bridge I followed close to the line of the railway down into the Shay Lane Industrial Estate, a fine way to start a country walk. There is a surprising variety of businesses along here hidden away from the rest of the village. Cheeses, timbers, metal shelving, builders’ merchant, fruit and veg supplier, JCB, as well as many smaller units.

There’s more than one way to decorate a tree.

At the end is Shay Lane Farm, always neat and tidy. From there I took to the fields alongside Savick Brook, they were sufficiently frozen to avoid wet feet. The contrast from Industrial to rural was sudden.

I came into Grimsargh at Dixon’s Farm where a branch railway line heading to Whittingham Hospital could be clearly identified. In 1889, a private branch line was opened northwards from Grimsargh to Whittingham Asylum two miles  away. As well as supplies, hospital staff and visitors were carried free of charge in converted goods brake vans. The line continued in use until 1957 connecting with bus services after the main line was closed to passengers.

The Whittingham  Hospital branch line.

J D 1736

The map below shows the railway lines as well as the Reservoirs.

1930map.                                                                                                                                    National Library of Scotland.

 

While I was at Grimsargh Green I visited the large garden of a friend to wish her a distant Happy New Year, strange times. I then took a footpath following the line of the railway towards the reservoirs, but they were securely surrounded by metal fencing and I ended up going a long way round to gain the path through them.

Line to Longridge.

There was no public access to the wetlands themselves and of course today there was no wet – just ice. The smallest reservoir has been developed as a reed bed. I now realise there is a viewing point over the two lakes from a different access point, next time. Not a bird insight except for a curious robin.

I was soon out onto the main road and Elston Lane. My footpath onwards was blocked by new development with a closure notice lasting until Feb 2021, but it looks as though this situation will continue for much longer, I hope the locals insist on the footpath being reinstated once the building work is completed.

Looking at the map I found other paths to circumvent the problem and was soon walking back to Alston and fields over to Longridge.

Next year?

I need to return to spend more time at the wetlands if we are allowed out. I’m hoping Boris will swiftly follow the sensible proactive steps of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies to keep on top of this Covid-19 crisis, and we must all do our part and act responsibly.

*****

THE FIRST STEP.

千里之行,始於足下

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”    so the Chinese saying of LaoTzu goes, seems fitting for a New Year’s Day.

A chance reading of a fellow  blogger last night about her 1000-mile challenge from last year had me totting up my own rough mileage for the year – it was just over 700. Given that it was a strange year, staying local and not completing my usual half dozen long distance walks, that wasn’t too bad a total. So I decided and have now proclaimed to you my desire to cover the thousand this year. No fancy app counting steps around the house or going to the shops, just ‘proper’ walks that I would normally write up in my diary. I may get distracted into cycling or if the weather is good into bouldering and climbing which could limit my progress.

This afternoon, January 1st, I did five miles from home – a good start. We are in Covid-19 Tier 4 lockdown at present, so I won’t be travelling far by car for some time, but I can reach the countryside easily from my doorstep.

I’ll share some of my walks here until I become bored with the same old ones around Longridge, I’ll need to be creative to cover the mileage with interest rather than just for the exercise.

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow.  I’m now  able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.

Thornley Horse Trough.

Wheatley Farm. 1774.

People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.

Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.

*****

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.

Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.

In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….

… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases  nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/

There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.

That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed  metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.

I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.

*****

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****

 

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.

*****