Category Archives: The Wyre Way.

THE WYRE WAY – ROUND THE HORN AND UP THE CREEK.

“Do you think we should abort?”  was Sir Hugh’s opening gambit when we met to walk the remaining section of The Wyre Way. I must admit the morning was foul with mist and rain.  Fleetwood looked bleak. No-one was patronising the promenade snack kiosks. Somehow the sight of the familiar statues greeting the imaginary returning fishermen, they would have endured far worse than us, galvanised me into action.  “Lets just set off and see” was my usual optimistic response. Within 100 yds the rain had stopped and there was a glimpse of brightness, the rest of the day was warm and almost sunny.

When I was walking The Wyre Way a couple of years ago I deemed I had completed the length of the river without this curious add on loop in the Fylde but when Sir Hugh suggested it I couldn’t miss out and risk shame. So here we were striding along the prom.What did we see? We saw the sea. But not at close quarters as the tide was out revealing vast mysterious sand banks. The famous distant views to the Lakeland Hills was denied us today. Leaving the Victorian esplanade area, with its two lighthouses and prominent North Euston Hotel, we wandered past run down beach huts, a yachting pond and on to a leaning coastwatch station. This latter was completed in 2012 and is of startling construction. The promenade/sea wall was closed further on for major works so we used a higher path adjacent to the golf course. In the distance Blackpool Tower.Turning inland we passed Rossall School and followed a few streets to meet up with the Wyre again. Good paths took us between the muddy river and the ICI [now AkzoNobel] plant, still functioning but greatly diminished. A car park appeared along with a multitude of dogwalkers. A fascinating area of boat jetties came next and led into Skipool Creek a centre for sailing but today with the tide still low everywhere looked distinctly muddy. There was a fascinating dereliction to the place, a  mixture of allotment and scrap metal.

Echoes of ICI.

Echoes of ICI.

A final section across low lying muddy fields, which would be flooded at high tide in an hour or so, brought Shard Bridge into view. I remember the old metal toll bridge from my time working in Blackpool when an evening’s drive for a pint in the pub seemed to be crossing into another world. Today the pub is unrecognisable in its reincarnation as a Hotel/Restaurant. I peeped over the terrace to view the ‘path’ I had tried to follow at high tide a couple of years ago. Even today it looked uninviting.The thin winters light was upon us as we reflected on a day well spent.

THE WYRE WAY. UP TO THE TWO BOWLAND SOURCES.

Again I have a late start, parking up in Dolphinholme. This was an important mill village at one time with many interesting buildings. Today I’m more interested in the vegetable gardens near the bridge. A man is erecting a new greenhouse to complement his vegetable beds – all very neat. I’m quickly away up into the fields of freshly cut grass, a smell so evocative of childhood summers. The Bowland Fells remain as a backdrop all day. Through woods I come down to cross the River Wyre ………..and follow it’s north bank to a pumping station and a memorial to the people who lost their lives in the explosion of May 1984. There is little water today on the dramatic overspill of Abbeystead Reservoir, opening photo. Abbeystead Village is its usual sleepy self.  sam_4961There are two Wyres from here on, the Tarnbrook Wyre coming from the Ward’s Stone / Brennand Fells and the Marshaw Wyre coming out of the Trough of Bowland.  The WW does a loop around them. In this upper part of the walk there are frequent WW markers expertly carved from stone and depicting local interests, I wonder who was responsible for them?  sam_5040sam_4982sam_5066SAM_5008

Fields, with abundant lapwings calling, are crossed to reach the hamlet of Tarnbrook and a reuniting with the Tarnbrook Wyre. Chatted to an elderly man in one of the 18th century cottages, he had lived here all his life and is now the only permanent resident. sam_4998I crossed the Tarnbrook Wyre for the last time at Gilberton Farm.sam_5001The afternoon was very hot and sticky but I had clear wide open Bowland vistas as I crossed the watershed, Hind Hill, between the two tributaries. The Trough of Bowland road can be seen.sam_5014 I found the track down to Tower Lodge, originally the gate house to the abandoned and now derelict Wyresdale Tower. sam_5017The walk back down the Trough road next to the Marshaw Wyre passed pleasantly until I was back in riverside fields again. The thought crossed my mind that I should do the classic cycle ride through The Trough again, will have to get a bit fitter on the bike first.SAM_5023 Further down the valley one gets glimpses of the grand Abbeystead House and gardens, Lancashire home for the Duke Of Westminster. sam_5046The two Wyres have united at the reservoir and its alongside here in the trees that the path becomes boggier and awkward, crocodile country. From the weir I left the previously walked WW section and followed indistinct field paths back to near Dolphinholme. I had been out for six hot hours and so arranged to meet a friend living close by for a pint at The Fleece Inn. We met to find it closed Mondays/Tuesdays!  The Plough in Galgate provided suitable alternative refreshments within it’s sunny beer garden.

Today’s walk has been a very satisfying conclusion to The Wyre Way, brilliant scenery and interesting locations. My rather scathing criticism of the first leg of the walk may need to be tempered, would probably be great if you follow the correct way, at the right tides and when the vegetation is low!  So I would highly recommend THE WYRE WAY for a few days varied walking.

THE WYRE WAY. A QUIET INTERLUDE, ST. MICHAEL’S – SCORTON.

Dull and misty this morning, so I was in no rush to get out. Enjoyed a lazy breakfast with one of my sons who is staying over. He intended a  cycle ride over Longridge Fell and round the local lanes, I didn’t feel I could keep up with him so I set off for more of the Wyre Way.

This time I had a decent scaled map showing the route and I was determined not to proceed without a WW sign. Things went well out of St. Michael’s on a good path by the River, well used by dog walkers. For some reason the signs soon had me back on the main road for a noisy stretch, motorbikes ++, before rejoining the river bank. Surely a better way could be negotiated nearer the river. Himalayan Balsam has taken over on the river banks on this stretch. I was glad I hadn’t stripped down to shorts yet as the path vegetation was quite aggressive, though at one point near Land House farm someone had done a good stretch of strimming, thank you. The village of Churchtown provided   a pleasant diversion with its church! and old houses. Between here and Garstang I felt I was in ‘no mans land’, quiet country lanes and field paths either side of the A6. Glad to see one farmer clearing up the usual junk into at least one pile. Nothing much moved, not even the gigantic wind turbine at the cheese factory which is a prominent sight whilst driving the A6 north of Preston.  The way creeps up on Garstang and you suddenly find yourself on the Lancaster Canal by a small basin. Here there is a tempting pub, on this hot day, unfortunately on the wrong side of the water. The Wyre is rejoined by climbing down steps from the canal  at an interesting Aqueduct. Soon one is is in Garstang’s [advertised as the World’s first free trade town??] main street. A small diversion would take you round the interesting parts of this attractive market town but as I have done precisely that many times I took the early turnoff to the riverside path again. This path is a favourite of the residents and visitors alike and today was busy with families enjoying the weather. Ice creams were being consumed, a cricket match was in progress, kids were in the shallow waters and lots of dogs were being exercised. As one leaves the town a newish flood barrier has been developed. To prevent flooding further downstream in Churchtown and St. Michael’s this can be closed and the excess water fills the flood plain above. On a day like today this area is open fields with pedestrian access providing good leisure facilities and a sculpture trail.The Wyre is by now reduced to stream size. The railway and M6 are crossed quickly ….….and then leaving the river, an old cobbled path leads through woods to the outskirts of Forton with its prominent Church Steeple. I was last here a few weeks ago whilst climbing Nicky Nook to Dolphinholme and returning by the WW – https://bowlandclimber.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/nicky-nook-and-wyre-way/

 

 

ON THE WATERFRONT – THE WYRE WAY, KNOTT END TO ST. MICHAEL’S.

This turned out to be a bad day for myself,  whom I took to be an experienced walker. No one else has that assumption. Having become interested in the Wyre Way, which I had encountered further up near its source I ‘planned’ a few days walking its 41 miles. Today I intended to explore upstream from the river mouth at Knott End/Fleetwood. Buses were taken from St. Michaels via Poulton to deliver me at Knott End on a beautiful sunny day. What better relaxing way to start the day than with tea and toasted teacakes in Knott End Cafe. This building was originally part of the station at the end of the Garstang-Knott End Line and has many interesting old related photos on the walls. Eventually I set off as the ferry was coming across the Wyre from Fleetwood with the Lakeland Hills in the background.

Knott End Ferry.

                                                       Knott End Ferry.

I had hit upon low tide and as this exposes lots of mudbanks the river did not look at it’s best. Flocks of waders were feeding at the edges, mainly Dunlins and Oyster Catchers I thought.  Crossing a golf course I arrived in seaside bungalow suburbia which I found difficult to navigate out of. No signs for the WW which I thought would be in abundance,  I only had with me the old 1:50000 map and I had not marked on it the line of the route.   Big mistake no.1.  Soon I was out into the fields on a good path which eventually deposited me off route in Preesall on the main road I had just travelled.  No problem I connected via paths back to the coast and onto the sea ‘wall’ A minor Burrows Lane, never met a car, was followed to the yacht mooring’s at Wardley’s Pool.

Mud births at Wardley's.

                                            Mud births at Wardley’s.

From here I had a run in with another holiday park which I felt lucky to escape from to the river again. The path now seemed to follow the marshy waters edge towards the new Shard Bridge. Sea-lavender was very profuse and colourful on this stretch.After all my delays the day was passing and the tide was coming in once more – had never given that a thought.  Big mistake no. 2.   Reached the Shard Bridge pub with dry feet just! The last time I was here there was still the old toll bridge and it always seemed a bit of an adventure to visit this pub. Was glad to find they were serving Bowland Brewery ‘Hen Harrier’ on draught so I relaxed over a pint in the sunshine on their patio overlooking the river. The route was signed straight from the pub along the water’s edge and  I stepped straight onto the, by now water logged, path.  Big mistake no. 3.  Things became quickly worse as the tide rose further and I was fighting my way through sea grasses in a foot of water. By now there was no sign of a path and survival became uppermost on my mind [but strangely not to turn back]. When my floundering in the water became dangerous/comical I managed with difficulty  to scale the brier and nettle covered embankment and threw myself across the barbed wire fence into the sanctuary of the higher field. Trespassing along the first field boundary was no problem but having yet again climbed over barbed wire I now found myself in a head high maize crop – jungle warfare. This repeated itself for many a field with only crop rotation providing easy or difficult progress. Nothing fit on my map [without field boundaries] and the afternoon became hot and sticky. Salvation seemed to be close as I reached a recognisable farm on the marsh edge. Stopping to ask for advice I was immediately attacked by two overgrown  ‘pit bulls’, a mastiff and the usual terrier. The farmer came to my rescue, of course saying they wouldn’t bite me. We ended up having a pleasant chat about the area, the river and the fact that the tides had been at their highest. He reassured me that as now the tide was retreating there would be no problem following the path through the marshes. So on I went, now with the occasional WW waymark there had been none before as I was mostly off route. Stopping to check my position I realised I had lost my fairly useless map but I thought I could manage without it now the going was easier with occasional way markings.   Big mistake no. 4.   The walking across the marsh was indeed easier for awhile. Jelly fish were a common sight either high and dry or isolated in salt water pools. Before long the path became overgrown and I was once again fighting through reeds, tripping over and generally lacerating my legs and pride. The occasional tantalysing waymark drew me into worse territory. It was with relief that I staggered onto a road. By now my sodden boots and socks seemed to have dried out! The lack of a map meant I couldn’t pick up any WW footpaths and none were signed so I trudged along the riverside lanes. The last mile I was able to take to the river defences for a pleasant walk into St. Michael’s,  the river now contained between the fields. I finished battered and bruised at the bridge over the Wyre next to the church and close to the Grapes Inn where I enjoyed a Timothy Taylor  ‘Landlord’ as payment for my parking all day in their carpark. 

Cottages and pub St. Michaels.

                                       Cottages and pub. St. Michael’s.

I’m sure I made even more mistakes than highlighted above but the day has turned out to be quite an adventure and once I’ve bought another better map I will continue on the Wyre Way.  One bonus of today I have not mentioned were excellent views of the Bowland Hills across the Fylde. It is in these hills River Wyre originates and where I will be heading towards next.

As a post script I do have to comment that the route is not well waymarked and apparently little walked.

NICKY NOOK AND THE WYRE WAY.

SAM_3660

I came across The Wyre Way whilst  walking up to Ward Stone Fell a couple of weeks ago. I decided to investigate further.   http://www.visitwyre.co.uk/xsdbimgs/WyreWay.pdf

See my map for today’s circular route.

As you drive up the M6 north of Preston a well known landmark is a church spire poking out of the trees to the left of the motorway. This is St. Peters Church, Scorton and it is here that I started my walk today.

it must be 20 yrs since I’ve walked up Grize Dale and climbed Nicky Nook 215m!  It was a popular walk for us when the kids were young. The fell seemed to be cloaked in colourful escapee rhododendrons giving it a strangely Nepalese look. The view over Morecambe Bay was as extensive as ever but a little dull for photos.A direct route off the hill down pastures alive with lapwings and curlews took me onto quiet lanes heading north with lots of reminders of the past local history.

Old cheese press.

  Old cheese press.

One sign brought back memories of when I was cycling the byways to get fit for a trip to the Pyrenees, I ignored the sign, skidded on the cobbles and ended up in the river with 20 miles to cycle home feeling rather cold and stupid,

Lower Dolphinholme was reached and the converted worsted mill, which once employed over 1000 people, passed to arrive at last on the River Wyre.

Date stone 1797.

Date stone 1797.

Picked up the Wyre Way signs here and was immediately taken away from the river and down the valley passing further mills.

The walking was not as good as the map suggested, entering several busy caravan and camping sites with the noise of the motorway ever present and the river a poor companion. The best bits were when passing by the numerous popular fishing lakes, presumably old gravel pits.There was a good view back up to Nicky Nook from the frenetic motorway bridge!

Bits more of the River Wyre led me back to Scorton with cafes and ice cream.  A pleasant 10miles but the highlight was Nicky Nook rather than the Wyre Way. Will explore more of the latter in the coming weeks to see if it has more to offer as a short LDW.

SAM_3730

          A weir on the Wyre.

THE HEART OF BOWLAND.

 

Distant Wolfhole Crag

                                                                            Distant Wolfhole Crag

Another day out walking with the lads from Bolton was planned with a 9am, we enjoy a lie in these days, rendezvous just off the M6 junction. To ring the changes I had planned a round of the fells from Tarnbrook and was in sole charge of navigating and the map.

To my horror as I reached the meeting place I realised the said map was still on my kitchen table – necessitating a rapid turn around and subsequently a ribbing for the delayed start. The twisting lanes leading  from the next motorway junction north seemed to go on forever, more than my memory of them. The hamlet of Tarnbrook thankfully hadn’t changed at all though.

Tarnbrook.

                                                                                    Tarnbrook.

We were greeted with a warm sun and clear skies which promised well for views on the fell tops.

. Most of the land around here is now open access from the CRoW act of 2000. Prior to that we were evicted several times whilst climbing on the rocks up at Thorn Crag, lying high above Tarnbrook. This is grouse shooting land previously strictly restricted. A sad observation is that the estate has now built several ugly ‘roads’ through these remote hills. The other observation is that one doesn’t see the Hen Harriers or Peregrines any more.

I came across this interesting article and debate about raptor persecution in the area….     http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/2014/01/06/politics-is-still-undermining-raptor-conservation-in-lancashires-forest-of-bowland/

Getting back to the walk we headed off in an Easterly direction on what is marked as The Wyre  Way past a few old farms and onto rougher, virtually, trackless ground leading up onto Brennand Hill. Slow progress necessitated a coffee break in a clough  on the way.

Sign of the times.

                                                                          Sign of the times.

Eventually we reached the stoney outcrop marked on the map as Millers House. Here we found the odd abandoned millstone hewn from the gritstone – what a life.

Noticeably there were far fewer gulls in the area than before, I think culling by the NWWB has reduced the upland breeding population.

Onwards brought us to the fence on the broad ridge and a diversion for a lunch stop at Wolfhole Crag.  This must be one of the most remote bouldering venue in England, but there was some chalky evidence of recent ascents of the harder problems.   http://www.lakesbloc.com/guides/wolfhole-crag-guide.pdf

 

Our own clumsy ascents would be better not recorded.

The day had changed and was now dull and cold so views to the Three Peaks and the Lakes were poor. The never ending plod westwards along the boggy ridge didn’t have much merit in these conditions. Crossing one of the aforementioned, incongruous estate ‘roads’ we came across several areas of heather reseeding and stabilisation in the peat bogs. Respite came at the first trig point on Ward’s Stone, 561m. We realised that we had been walking steadily uphill for the best part of 4 hours to reach this point! A welcome flat area led to the next trig point, 560m. The views to Morecambe Bay were sadly limited but the Wyre estuary was clear, that’s where all the water from up here goes.

Our planned route continuing westwards to the more interesting Grit Fell and Clougha Pike was curtailed to another day as we dropped off the fell and down the endless lane into Tarnbrook.

Descent into Tarnbrook.

                                                                   Descent into Tarnbrook.

12miles over this rough territory was enough for us today. We saw only two other walkers all day and that on a Bank Holiday weekend!  We will be back for Grit Fell and Clougha Pike.