Category Archives: Longridge

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.

*****

 

THAT SHORT WALK OUT OF LONGRIDGE – UPDATE.

I was thwarted a few weeks ago on one of my regular local walks by a completely obstructed path.

Well today I followed the same route to see if anything had improved.

I’m not sure if the local authority or the farmer have got round to doing anything but I’m pleased to find the way open. I suspect some local walker/activist, I know a few, has cleared the way – well done. I think that in future with financial constraints placed on local authorities and the ever increasing pressure put on rural societies that we will all have to take things into our own hands to preserve the footpath network.

 

 

 

 

 

I continued on my way back to Longridge on unobstructed and for the most part signed rights of way.

*****

A SHORT WALK OUT OF LONGRIDGE.

I set off in the cool of the morning to walk a circuit of fields and lanes which is on my list of regular local outings. I was looking forward to a 5 mile walk with an emphasis on photographing the current flora. A footpath sign points off the road down a green track which opens into fields. A plainly waymarked stile crosses into the next field and I happily wandered on to where it goes through a hedge by a pond. Today however I could go no further as a new fence topped with barbed wire blocked the way and it was insurmountable, even for me.  I checked either side to see if the stile had been moved but no there was no access on this Public Right of Way. I had no option but to turn around and head home in not the best of moods.How can a landowner just completely ignore a well used Public Right of Way? There should be much harsher penalties for this brazen obstruction. I will not let them get away with it.

Lancashire County Council have an excellent on-line reporting service for problems with Right of Ways, you identify the position in question on a map and click. You are then given chance to describe the problem and hey-presto it is reported with an identifying number. Of course that is only the start and one has to hope the council take the matter up with the landowners.

http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/fault-reporting?coords=,&type=default

I wonder if the obstruction miraculously disappears in the next day or two?

*****

BLUE PLAQUES IN LONGRIDGE.

 

How to make the best of a sunny afternoon whilst I’m not able to climb the fells?

I have had in mind for some time a walk around my home town of Longridge visiting the buildings bestowed with a blue plaque. A quick piece of research of Longridge Heritage Committee information told me they had placed 15 in total – so off I went, camera in hand.

I intend to let the plaques give you the history whilst they are legible …

No 1. CRAMPOAKS MILL.

At the bottom of the main street, Berry Lane, is Booths Supermarket. From the front it could be any retail outlet but viewed from the side the telltale ‘saw tooth’ north-facing roof lights marks it out as an old mill, there were many such cotton mills in Longridge, spinning and weaving.           

No 2. Youth centre.

Across the road on the corner is an undistinguished building housing a community and youth centre with several notable past uses including the Bond Minicar developed in town.

 

No 3. The Towneley Arms.

A popular local pub situated next to the old station. An adjacent level crossing was used on Berry Lane where the line crossed to sidings for the mills and on its way up to the quarries.

No 4. The Old Station.

The station has been sympathetically restored as a Heritage Facility and a popular central cafe utilising the platform space as well as the station building. There is always a wealth of local information available in the heritage centre. Searches on the internet will soon provide more history on the Preston – Longridge railway and its unique branch to Whittingham Hospital which in its heyday was one of the largest Mental Institutions in Europe.

No 5. The Co-operative Building.

On the next block up is another imposing stone building previously holding our co-op. When I first arrived in town I would shop in the various departments of the large store. The plaque mentions the ballroom upstairs but I mainly remember the Polash Indian Restaurant up the stairs when the space had been divided – good old Ronnie was an excellent chef and I still have contact with his family in Burnley. The present co-op store has moved to a new building next door and the lower floor shops are now charity and betting – a sign of the times. The rest of the building is however used as semi affordable flats. Shame they didn’t restore the clock which is visible from most of the lane.

 

No 6.  Methodist Church.

This Wesleyan Methodist Chapel is now in private ownership having been sold off and the congregation incorporated into the United Reform Church down the road – now the thriving Christ Church. Needs must. I have never been inside it.

No 7. The Stone Quarries.

I hit a problem here – I couldn’t find the blue plaque! I presumed it was by the tunnel linking the railway to the quarries. In the past the railway line continued from the town centre through what is now John Smith’s Park and connected with a horse drawn incline up into the extensive quarries, Tootle Heights, producing high quality stone for many construction projects in the NW. Liverpool and Preston docks and many public buildings in Preston. The raison d’ètre of the line.

Tootle Heights Quarry in its heyday.

No 8. The Quarryman’s Arms,

Just below the quarries is this old pub building – now my favourite Thai restaurant.

No 9.  Club Row.

Walking back down Higher Road you come to a row of cottages on the left. They have an interesting history.

No 10. Cinema.

Unfortunately the cinema is under scaffolding at present, undergoing refurbishment with new owners who hope to continue operating it as private cinema. It has been a unique experience with ice cream usherettes, tea and coffee in mugs and the National Anthem, lets hope it continues to be.

Its noticeable how many properties in the old parts of town were previously involved with  hand-looming.

No 11.  Fell End.

Continuing down the hill there is an old building, now a funeral parlour, on the corner bearing the plaque. The Duke William pub opposite is now private housing.

No 12. St. Lawrence’s Church.

Opposite across the main road is the parish church in a prominent position approaching the town.

No 13. New Town.

Round the corner on the busy Preston Road is an area known as New Town which is now a conservation area. The water pump has been restored. As a bonus here we get a Red plaque.

As it was…

No 14.  Stone Bridge.

The busy roundabout at the end of Preston Rd is built on Stone Bridge where the railway entered town. Not the most salubrious environment – don’t hang around.

No 15.  St. Wilfred’s Church.

The prominent church further along Derby Rd is Roman Catholic, an important religion in the town.

 

 

So a walk of about 3 miles has included all the plaques but there are so many more interesting stone buildings in town that I feel I could produce another circuit.