Category Archives: Longridge

LATITUDE SD38. COAST TO COAST.

An email dropped into my box –

What about:
Longridge to the Sea – Eastwards.
Following the OS line 38. I have had a quick look and it appears more or less possible. Straight line 104 miles and interesting – certainly a lot of new territory for me.  Conrad. 
[Sir Hugh to those familiar with ths blog]

I ignored this for a day or so thinking it was too ambitious and I had better things to do; like finish off the GR131 in the Canary Islands and complete my protracted Land’s End to John o’Groats. But the idea gnawed at the back of my mind and I foolishly looked up the maps. The SD 38 latitude in question runs virtually past my house. My mind was in action now, why not start on the west coast and finish on the east 122 straight miles Blackpool to Aldbrough.

A bit of a pipe dream. Better do some gardening.

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 1 – another straight line.

Skipton to Barnoldswick.Following on from the success of the straight line from Longridge to Arnside completed with Sir Hugh at the end of last year I have persuadedthe piemana resident of Skipton to undertake a similar scheme between our respective abodes.

The Pieman.

He is a lifelong friend, possibly blood related though I tend to ignore that, with whom I’ve shared many backpacking trips throughout Europe but recently we have not been able to meet up as much as required. So this was a good opportunity to get 2019 off on a better note. Thus I was drinking coffee in his house in Skipton early this morning before setting off on what could only be described as a drab day.

My local guide takes us across Aireville Park, where I used to play as a child, over the Leeds Liverpool Canal and out of town through an industrial estate with some interesting relics awaiting restoration.

Airedale Park.

We crept under a main road and crossed the placid River Aire on an old track into Carleton. This essential bridge for our route was just within the mile either side of our arbitrary straight line  The C19 mill in the village was originally for cotton-spinning but I remember buying carpets there in the 70s, apparently it is now luxury apartments.

Carleton.

Today we didn’t visit the village but took to unmarked footpaths through green drumlin fields. I have to concede that satellite tracking maps were a great help in navigating this section. We were going parallel to a disused railway [Skipton to Colne] and eventually we found ourselves walking along it for convenience until stopped by vegetation.Possibly we touched on a Roman Road leading to Elslack where there was a fort. Our priority was to find a picnic bench and there right in the middle of the hamlet was one in some sort of memorial garden. Having put his instant coffee powder into a cup he looked for the flask containing the hot water, unfortunately it was on the worktop back in Skipton. I had hot apple tea in my flask so he ended up with a strange brew.

We walked past the C15 Elsack Hall but at a discreet distance and then along the abandoned railway into Thornton-in-Craven joining the Pennine Way for a short stretch. The village has interesting old houses but no shop or pub and the heavy traffic deterred us from lingering.

Tree planted for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

?Millenium Clock.

On the edge of the village are Almshouses built for poor women, there is not much of that charity evident today.

By the church a sign guided us to a Holy Well in the grounds, dating from Saxon times it is covered by an octagonal structure erected in 1764 by the rector.

On a short stretch of golf course we joined The Pendle Way. It weaved around a church and graveyard where every grave was decorated with flowers, presumably from Christmas.

Rolls Royce have a large presence in Barnoldswick and we passed one of their factories before joining the Leeds – Liverpool Canal for the final stretch into town. My overall impression today was of green fields and a rich historical background.

*****

AROUND LONGRIDGE TO SEE WHAT’S NEW.

I was drinking coffee and debating whether to go for a stroll or even rescue my bike from the garage for a ride when JD phoned suggesting a walk, we chose a short one circumnavigating the village as I was interested in the changes taking place. On reflection if we’d had more time we should have climbed onto the fells to take advantage of the perfect weather.

Anyone who knows Longridge will be aware of the rash of indiscriminate housing developments. These are immediately obvious from the road where for some reason the football club have sold off a field within their grounds, previously used for youth training, for six houses. Already this is creating problems on match days as now their parking is limited there is dangerous parking on both sides of the busy road and footways, time will tell.  Across the road the cricket pitch is being surrounded by development. I was surprised to see this strange buiding practice…

Climbing up through the estate onto Higher Road was an alteration of a different sort, the local Thai restaurant’s entrance porch has been destroyed by drunken drivers badly affecting trade over the Xmas period.

There were however peaceful views from up here over the Spade Mill Reservoirs. The little the bridleway past the reservoirs is popular with dog walkers and leads onto Alston Lane. Once across we followed a farm lane and found our way into fields with occasional waymarkers, so we only lost our way once heading down to a bridge across a beck. The next farm, Alston Lodge, was a mud bath.

The path weaves its way between the Alston Reservoirs, built for Preston as it increased rapidly in size. A large group of Canada Geese had descended looking for food. Alongside the last stretch of water a wetland reserve has been created and there are hides to observe the birds. Today we saw mainly Mallards!

At the end of Pinfold Lane onto the main road all is changing with a large housing development on its north side and unfortunately a long stretch of hedging has been unnecessarily removed. Fortunately our onward footpath bypasses the development, for how long?  Mardale playing fields give us a bench for refreshments before we cross the old railway line into Shay Lane industrial area. An old path follows a small stream where one used to hop across on stones but recently a wooden bridge has appeared.  Green Nook Lane is usualy quiet but at he end are more new houses on the left and then even more being built across the road and guess what – an Aldi has arrived.

Round the corner is Halfpenny Lane whose fields will all be built on before my next walk round our previously lovely little community. So a day where the negatives outweighed the positives I think.

*****

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.