Category Archives: Walking.

LONGRIDGE FELL – THREE QUESTIONS ANSWERED.

Mr and Mrs Stonyhurst.

Another walk on the quiet side of the Longridge Fell.

As I write this there is a large fire blazing in a plantation somewhere up there possibly even on this route from the other day. I assure you I did not have any part in its genesis.

I  don’t have any questions on my mind as I stroll down the bridleway past Crowshaw House. The crowds have gone the other way up onto Longridge Fell on the forestry tracks so I have my paths to myself. I’m tempted to trespass and have a look at the hidden lake which is part of the Stonyhurst Estate, another time maybe. So on past buttresssed Greengore, an ancient shooting lodge which I’ve photographed many times. A little stile, which could easily be missed, on the left, leads to a faint path through the trees and down to cross Dean Brook by a footbridge. Up the other side, you come out into fields by Higher Deer House, another sign of the estate’s deer park from the past.

Stonyhurst College on the lower slopes of Longridge Fell has a long history first as a private estate of the Shireburn family and then as a Catholic College. The village of Hurst Green is an integral neighbour of the estate,

I follow the track out to the road and immediately come face to face with the Pinfold Cross with its ominous inscription – ‘WATCH FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’

I’ve often stopped to read this but have not noticed the other inscription above  ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’ and more importantly on the left ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’  and on the right ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834′ This extra information allowed me to track down the origins of the cross – a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells, who fell to his death in a quarry nearby on 12 February 1834. I never knew that so I have answered one of my outstanding questions already about Stonyhurst.

Down the lane before Stockbridge Cottages, properties of the college, I pick up a well-trodden path heading up the fell towards Kemple End quarries. This appears as a sunken track and I’ve heard possibly that it was a trackway used for bringing stone down from the quarries to Hurst Green for the construction of parts of Stonyhurst. Today the local farmer was out checking his fences and was keen to chat. So question two – what was the track for? Yes, he explained it was a sledge way pulled by horses from the quarry. The barn at the bottom which I had just passed was used for stabling the horses.

Another query I had was about the Almshouses in Hurst Green which were apparently built high on Longridge Fell and at some later date moved stone by stone and re-erected in the village. That was a known fact but I often wondered where they had been on the Fell originally. The farmer supplied his answer that they had been just above the road near Leeming quarry in an area known as the Blue Lagoon. That seems feasible.

Hurst Green Almshouses.

Original site.

The Blue Lagoon.

 

Once up at Kemple End I had a short drink’s break and contemplated which way to take back to my car, along the road or the slightly longer and higher forest tracks. Obviously, the latter was chosen. I was wandering slowly up the zigzags looking at the flora when a young man caught me up. Keeping to our regulation 2m social distancing we chatted for a while. He had set himself a challenge for his lockdown period, 50 hills within walking distance of Clitheroe. I enthused about his project and wished him well.

My favourite cottage at Kemple End.

A few more people were using these forest tracks but it was easy to keep clear of them, is this how paranoia starts? A friend came by on his mountain bike with his 3year old son riding high at the front, his wife followed on using an electric mountain bike.

I had enjoyed a leisurely 6mile stroll on a busy weekend avoiding most of humanity and discovered a few more pieces of local history.

 

 

*****

OUT WITH THE LARK.

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,                                                                                                     George Meredith.

It was that sort of morning. I wasn’t exactly up with the lark but they were singing on high as I set off up the fell. The sky hanging above the heather was blue with a few wisps of white cloud, a lark sky if ever I saw one.

I strolled up the slope, my breathing has been laboured recently. My mood lifted with every step. The Vale of Chipping has taken on a new life as fields are cut and the patchwork of colours intensifies. It is good to see the progress of agriculture down there from up here.

The trig point is reached with little effort. How many times have I been up here? How many times have I photographed the pillar against the background of the Bowland Fells? The Yorkshire three peaks are in haze.

I wander on and dive into the dark forest on a track I know brings me out above the Ribble Valley. The warm scent of the new pine needles is intoxicating. Memories of Alpine days drift by.

I forget to look at Pendle as my gaze is down to the little reservoir where I saw the Canada Goose chicks the other day. The same cuckoo is calling somewhere in the trees and the same Stonechat singing on his wall perch.

Is this next bird a Meadow Pipit or a Skylark?  [no obvious crest] I’m back at the car after a magic hour and a half. I used to run that stretch in about 20minutes. Today I was happy to take in the skies and the larks.

*****

BROADENED HORIZONS.

Covid-19 Bank holiday beach Bournemouth.

My horizon for the last two months has been the fields at the back of my house with the Bowland  Fells in the background. I stayed in completely for the first four weeks or so and then only ventured out at quiet times on circumscribed local footpaths and lanes. The advice on lockdown changed for all of us, not just Dominic Cummings, a week or so ago. Hence the rush to the tourist hotspots and what looked to me like civil disorder. I was in no rush to follow.

Today I had a little job to do on the edge of the village, pin up a notice from the BMC relating to Covid19 risks on the gate leading into Craig Y Longridge, the local bouldering crag. So out came the car for the first time in weeks for a trip up there. The notice was in place but I for one won’t be going there to climb for some time as it is just like an indoor climbing wall with social distancing difficult and repeated use of the same holds by one and all.

Anyhow as I was out I thought I would drive further up the fell to a quiet parking spot, away from the bank holiday crowds, for a short walk with a change of scenery.

I parked by the temporarily closed New Drop Inn and for awhile watched the house martins flying back and forth to their nests under the eaves. I’m not sure whether I managed a photo or not with my snap and shoot camera.

The best I could do.

A little way down the road a footpath sign pointed into a field. From the map, the path crosses the field diagonally but the grass was very long and nobody had ventured across. I decided instead to follow the top boundary where there had been a tractor. All went well and gates gave access to more fields until I was stopped by barbed wire which was easily circumvented to put me onto the right of way.  This was no clearer but I kept finding broken stiles and gates leading to the industrial/agricultural buildings of Hougher Fall Farm, now restyled romantically as Bowland Forest Eggs. I made my escape to the Old Clitheroe Road. it had taken me over half an hour to walk half a mile but I’d enjoyed the exploration.

No obvious path.

Make your own way.

Back on track?

 

Escape.

I remembered a track going off left from near here past an old reservoir. The gate was just down the road and propped up next to it a slate with a lovely handwritten poem by a Kathleen Jamie which I rather liked.

Through the gate and just off the track is the little reservoir where I watched a pair of Canada Geese paddling across the water with their six chicks.  I was watching them when a female pheasant walked by with a couple of chicks.

Across rough ground were some grassed over quarries, marked on the map as Gannow Quarry. I imagined I’d spotted a climbable rock face but when I’d walked up to investigate it was only six feet high. I assume these small quarries were opened up for the reservoir construction.

Lennox Farm is being knocked about and extended. I’d reached the lane going up to the kennels and onto Longridge Fell, I was feeling breathless, hayfever?  and I almost aborted the walk by turning downhill back to the road. Something made me turn left and carry on up onto the fell, puffing all the way. It was worth it for the hazy views over the Ribble Valley and the mature pines.

I met the first people of the day on the edge of the forest. Three mountain bikers up from Preston who seemed totally oblivious to the present crisis – “nothing  to worry about mate”

Walking down by the fell wall I stopped to listen to my first cuckoo of the year and a finch? landed on the wall in front of me.

Back at the Newdrop I came across another poem slate this time a poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Are there more about?  There seems to be an environmental theme possibly related to our present viral problems. I will keep my eyes open for them.

A strange walk really, I just followed my nose and pottered along taking in whatever came by and more came along than expected.  Yet another Covid-19 local walk of exploration and enlightenment.

*****

 

 

 

TIME IS PASSING BY.

It is probably a week since I last walked any of my regular local routes. The weather was perfect today so I even got going before lunchtime. In the strange days we are living in, time has become warped and I have almost arrived at the position of ignoring it. That’s not all that different from my usual lifestyle. I’ve been setting a bi-weekly quiz for some friends during the lockdown and one of them commented today that if it wasn’t for the regular Thursday and Sunday questions he wouldn’t know which day of the week it was.

Since I was last out the countryside has subtly changed. The lambs have grown fatter, the grass has grown longer and the flowers have moved into another cycle. Gone are the bluebells, sorrel and primroses and more colour is now evident in the hedgerows with stitchwort, buttercups, vetch,  ragged robin and blue speedwells.

Comfrey and Cow Parsley.

Ragged Robin.

Buttercup.

Stitchwort, chickweed.

 

Speedwell.

The hawthorn has flowered replacing the blackthorn and what is noticeable is the sweet aroma from it. Its blossoming marks the point at which spring turns into summer, and the old saying ‘Cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’ almost certainly refers to the opening of hawthorn flowers rather than the end of the month.

Hawthorn.

The small amounts of road I have to walk on are a nightmare with some of the worst driving I’ve witnessed for a while. I read that the police are out to catch speeding drivers this weekend at the worst hotspots.

With the weather being so good I joined several of my local field paths together and ended up doing about 6 miles without noticing the time. There is no end to lockdown, as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll probably write up the same walk next week and wonder where the time has gone. But nature marches on and there will be changes underfoot to remind me of the passing year, a year I’ve all but written off for getting away.

*****

STAY LOCAL PLEA. CONISTON MRT.

This is a copy of a Facebook page for Coniston Mountain Rescue today.

It is worth reading in full and disseminating widely in the outdoor community. 

 

Hello All,

Hopefully, you’re all managing to stay safe and healthy through the Covid-19 pandemic.

We know that many of you will be desperate to get back on the fells and trails, and to get your Lake District “fix”. The relaxation of the Coronavirus lockdown may have been music to your ears when the Prime Minister stated that it is now Ok to drive any distance to take your exercise. This came as a total surprise to us as a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), Cumbria Police, Cumbria Tourist Board, The Lake District National Park and also The National Trust. Simply, the Lake District is NOT ready for a large influx of visitors. The hospitality sector remains closed, some car parks may be re-opening, along with some toilet facilities, but this is an enforced opening due to this announcement to cater for those that do decide to come, rather than an invitation.
Why are we, Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, so concerned about the relaxation of the travel to exercise rules? Maybe if we talk you through what happens it may explain why we’re worried.

Firstly, we are all volunteers – most of us have day jobs from which we take time off to deal with incidents during work hours, or time out of the rest of our lives “out of hours”, and secondly most of us have families who we need to protect.

How a rescue might play out during the Covid-19 pandemic:-
1. Paul and Sarah came up from Preston, and have summited the Old Man of Coniston, had their lunch and set off down towards Goats Water.
2. Paul slips and hears a crack from his left ankle, Sarah tries to help, but Paul can’t put weight on his ankle which is at a funny angle anyway. Paul is 15 stone and 6ft 2 tall. Sarah is fit but no way could she help Paul back down.
3. Sarah dials 999, remembers to ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue, the operator takes the details and asks a lot of questions to assess the Covid-19 risk posed by both Paul & Sarah to the MRT, and subsequently to Ambulance and medical staff that will need to treat Paul.
4. In the meantime, four groups of people come by, they all say they’d love to help but haven’t got any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must socially distance themselves by at least 2 metres.
5. The Police alert Coniston MRT to the incident via SARCALL, and the Duty Team Leader (TL) calls Sarah, having sent her a link by text for her to click on to confirm their exact position, and asks more questions, to work out the resources needed.
6. The TL then calls other members of the Leader Group to discuss the requirements and decides a 10 member group is required on the hill and alerts the Team to that requirement.
7. The Team numbers are depleted anyway, we have a number of people who contribute massively to the Team generally but are over 70 years old, i.e. higher risk group, we have people who may be shielding a family member, or at risk themselves due to underlying medical conditions that normally wouldn’t be an issue. So a team of 10 assemble at the MRT base, plus someone to run the base – this person is important as it helps with coordination of other services letting the hill party get on with the job.
8. All members are briefed regarding the incident, and check all are happy with the unknown invisible risk posed by the incident; the risk of walking up the fell is taken as read and a baseline anyway. All PPE is checked.
9. Team members climb aboard two of the Team’s three vehicles. Why only two when social distancing could be better in 3 vehicles? The need to decontaminate the vehicles on return probably outweighs the advantage of social distancing, and it leaves another vehicle able to respond to any other incidents.
10. Normally the Team would mobilise within 10-15 minutes of this type of call, due to all the pre-checks, personnel checks etc., the time elapsed thus far is 45 minutes.
11. The vehicles arrive at the road head, one last check on PPE and kit for the incident, including radios, and the Team sets off for the casualty site. Walking time to site is around 45-60 minutes.
12. The Team can’t call on the Air Ambulance for support as they’re off-line for this type of incident due to staff being redeployed elsewhere in the NHS or due to other priorities and risk factors so cannot support. Similar with Coastguard Helicopters…
13. On site, one casualty carer and one assistant will approach the casualty with as much PPE on as possible, and may well apply PPE to the patient before carrying out a full primary survey, in this case that’s simple, Paul’s ankle is (probably) broken, and there are no other underlying medical factors like a head injury, multiple other injuries or catastrophic bleeding.
14. The casualty carer and helper would normally give Paul some Entonox (pain killing gas) while they straighten his ankle to ensure a pulse at the foot and also maybe a pain killing injection. The injection takes 15 mins or so to work, but Entonox is not given because of the potential risk of contamination. However, the foot needs straightening ASAP to restore the pulse in Paul’s foot. Paul screams as the casualty carer re-aligns the foot (it’s called reducing the injury) to restore circulation and allow for splinting.
15. Paul’s ankle is splinted and although he’s still in pain, it’s less than it was and the painkilling injection is starting to take effect. Time elapsed since Paul fell is now 2 hours 15 mins.
16. The Team moves in and helps Paul on to the stretcher, the stretcher is made of stainless steel and heavy, it is about 2.5 metres long and maybe 0.6 metres wide, usually it takes 8 people to carry a loaded stretcher, they cannot socially distance.
17. The Team carries Paul down to the Walna Scar road, where they’ve asked a North West Ambulance Service land ambulance to meet them to reduce potential contamination at base. The carry down has taken 2 hours, so now it’s 4 hrs 15 since Paul fell. Paul is transferred to the Ambulance and taken to Furness General Hospital. Sarah can’t drive, but can’t go in the Ambulance either. How can the Team get Sarah re-united with Paul and then how do they both get home to Preston when Paul is fixed? What happens to their car? In normal circumstances we can fix these issues, not so easy in the Covid-19 pandemic.
18. The Team returns to base and starts to decontaminate the stretcher, the vehicles, the non-disposable medical equipment, the splint and themselves. Jackets and other clothing are all bagged ready to go in their washing machines when they get home, which takes a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Total time elapsed 5hrs 30 minutes. Total man-hours 10 folk on the hill plus 1 running base = 60.5 man-hours.
19. Paul is admitted to Furness General Hospital after a wait of 1 hour at A&E. He is taken to cubicles and X Rayed to understand his ankle injury better. He is also routinely tested for Covid-19. Paul’s ankle needs an operation to pin it as the break is a bad one.
20. Paul’s Covid-19 test comes back positive. Oh dear! Paul is asymptomatic, he has the virus but is either naturally immune or has not yet developed symptoms. The message is passed back to Coniston MRT, who then have to check the records of those on the incident. Every one of them, the ten people on the incident and the base controller, must now self isolate and so must their families, so now we have maybe 35 people all having to self-isolate. Plus possibly the Ambulance crew and their families.
21. Three days later Eric from Essex decides he wants to come to Coniston to do the 7 Wainwrights in the Coniston Fells. He sets off, and completes Dow Crag, the Old Man, Brim Fell along to Swirl How and Great Carrs and across to Grey Friar, then on up to Wetherlam. Eric puts his foot down on a rock, the rock moves and Eric is in a heap on the floor, his foot is at a funny angle…he gets his phone out and dials for Mountain Rescue… but there are only three people available from the Coniston Team now, so the decision needs to be taken by the Coniston MRT duty leader which Team to call to support, Neighbouring Teams are Langdale-Ambleside and Duddon & Furness MRT’s. The issue is, they’re in the same situation as Coniston with people self-isolating due to potential contamination, or their members are keyworkers in the NHS and can’t deploy on MRT incidents.
So – we’re asking you to think twice, even three times before you embark upon travelling to the Lake District for your exercise. The risk, however small, is real, and I write this as an MRT member for over 30 years with probably around 1000 incidents under my belt, I know, accidents happen.

MIXED BLESSINGS.

I realised today I’d not been out on a walk for some time. What day is it anyhow?

Last week seemed fragile topsy turvy and the last couple of days I’ve been head down in the garden. I’ve finished painting the pebble dash on my garage and have cut down a Mountain Ash that looked decidedly unhealthy last year and has shown no sign of budding this spring. By tea time I was knackered so I set off on a walk.

I had two objectives. One was to explore a little further up onto the slopes of Longridge Fell putting some ascent into my walks and secondly to gather some wild garlic leaves and flowers for cooking.

The local cricket field was immaculate for ghost players.

It was a mistake to head out on the Chipping Road and go up Mile Lane. Half the population of Longridge were using this route and I was constantly being closely passed by heavy breathing joggers. I felt quite uncomfortable as up to now I’ve been more or less completely self-isolated.

With relief, I entered field paths near the top of the lane, Old Rhodes,  where I could relax and take in the views. I don’t think the pheasant jogging past posed any risk.

I wandered down a rough lane to pass through Little Town Farm. This is a mainly dairy herd farm producing thousands of gallons of milk from their automated milking parlours. A few years ago they diversified by making yoghurt and opened a farm shop, cafe and small garden centre. It has become a popular destination for the locals to lunch out and buy fresh products. Due to the Covid19 restrictions, the cafe and garden centre are closed although there is limited access to the farm shop. Thankfully they are able to distribute most of their milk to the local cheesemakers while you hear of other farmers having to pour excess milk away.

Across the road and I was heading down to Ferrari’s Country Hotel and Restaurant, another place affected by the virus lockdown, they are doing takeaways to tick over. This is where I was able to pick the garlic and also get a glance of flowering bluebells which I’d missed so far this year

.

The evening sun was delightful as I followed familiar paths home through lush green fields with the Bowland Fells in the background.  For supper, I enjoyed a poached egg on a bed of garlic leaves with new potatoes.

In future, I will avoid the lanes close to the village, why don’t I get it right in the first place?. The spring sunshine was a tonic but I was really unhappy about the number of people moving about.

Back into the garden tomorrow…

*****

Unfortunately, I’ve just watched the news on TV. I fluctuate between crying for the loss of life and the personal tales from care homes who are taking the brunt of deaths at the moment and screaming at the TV politicians attempting a positive spin on testing whilst the death toll has yet again increased. I’m ashamed we are probably the worst in Europe. I fear the process of coming out of lockdown given the previous ineptitude of our government.

What value human life?  Can Manchester United et al start playing football soon?

*****

MY NECESSARILY LOCAL SPRINGTIME.

The pandemic rolls on. I have no intention of debating the government’s problems in this post  I’m just here to enjoy the local countryside.

I have well and truly isolated myself with basically no access to the outside world. I’ve not been into the village for shopping. I’ve a mask, from my toolbox in the garage, to wear if I have to, in order not to spread the virus without realising it.

But I have however started to venture out of an evening for some exercise finding there is virtually nobody about as they are probably having supper. Inglewhite Road, scene of the recent  ‘hedgerow massacre’,   leaves the village in an NW direction and in less than half a mile I’m able to leave it for paths and quieter lanes. I have a choice of routes all between 3 and 4 miles which fits in with the recommended local exercise.

I was surprised to hear that some people are going for walks of 8 to 10 miles and will obviously be out for much longer though they will probably not get close to any other people.  They are more likely to catch something in the local supermarket where I hear social distancing is not always respected. Anyhow, I’ll stick with my moderate exercise regime though the guidelines are becoming blurred.

None of my evening walks is worthy of individual description but all are pleasant enough through fields with the Bowland Fells tantalisingly in the background. The panorama takes in Beacon Fell, The Fairsnape group, Waddington Fell and back round to Longridge Fell. [This panorama was the idea behind my  Longridge Skyline Walk which I devised many years ago as a 60K route and have completed as a two-day expedition several times.]

Bowland Fells.

Longridge Fell.

The swallows and martins have returned, the hedges are alive with bird song, the lambs are doing what lambs do and there is a good show of spring flowers and blossoms. So my leisurely strolls are full of interest. Once off the road I never meet anyone but there is evidence of increased usage of the paths.

An amalgamation of recent walks…

I return home refreshed and ready to devise a menu from my boxes of fruit and vegetables. Tonight was cauliflower cheese. These little details seem to take on an increased significance in the otherwise mundane routine days of lockdown.

I reiterate my privilege of living on the edge of this lovely countryside, enjoying a garden in the sunshine and having none of the monetary or employment worries of some people. I’ve now completed 5 weeks of virtual isolation apart from these recent walks, even then I have no direct contact with other people. I don’t see any problem with continuing for the duration, however long that may be.

*****

My map shows the amalgamation of my local lockdown walks.