It had to be a quick visit. It was nearly 3.00 when I parked in the quarry, darkness comes before 4.00 and that is when the rain was due.
Aren’t we lucky to have a Country Park on our doorstep? Ready-made trails, sculptures, wildlife and views. Just great for a short visit and a burst of exercise when you can’t think of anything else. I tend to follow whichever path I find myself on, one can’t get lost for long and all will eventually lead upwards to the summit trig point at 266 m. Since thinning of trees has been carried out in the last decade there is a better variety of habitat. The only downside at the moment is that the visitor centre is closed, post Covid or council savings? I wonder what has happened to all the volunteers. Also don’t expect to find the previously excellent café open, they are only doing a takeaway service Thursday to Sunday.
Yesterday I walked quickly around the darkening forest and then out and up to the open fell top. There always seems to be somebody up there, the ‘green lungs’ of Preston. I was soon back at the car satisfied with my quick visit. The rest of the week looks rubbish.
Funny how the day turns out. I’ve been festering in the house for a few days due to some minor medical problems – but you don’t want to know about them. Midday I drive to the supermarket for supplies, why don’t I walk as it is only 500 m around the corner? I’ve just not felt like exercise as I said. Emerging after yet another troubled time with the self-service till, I do so much prefer a chat with a friendly cashier, (We are becoming so isolated from each other, have you noticed?) the brilliance of the day hits me. Blue sky, warmish sunshine and a pleasant breeze, ideal for a walk.
I ponder where would be best for a short walk. Longridge Fell above me is an obvious choice, but I have come unprepared in lightweight trainers and I suspect after our recent rain the going will be boggy. Across the valley the Fairsnape/Wolf Fell ridge looks inviting, but again I only came out to buy a few vegetables. However, slightly dwarfed there is Beacon Fell; good paths, good views and a café. Perfect for my present ambivalent mood – at least I’ll get some fresh air.
Narrow confusing country lanes take me across Chipping Vale and up to the free of charge Quarry car park. A gang of three volunteers are cutting back the vegetation. The country park relies on volunteers, a pang of guilt passes by me. Strangely mine is the only car in the quarry.
I set off in a clockwise direction on the well maintained paths not too worried about which one I take, they all lead to the same place, eventually. It strikes me that I was originally inspired to get some exercise because of the sunshine and I now find myself deep in the rather gloomy forest. Never mind I soon come out into the open near the main metered car park and visitor centre. The café here prided itself on being open 364 days of the year, but I find it closed today. Another aftermath of Covid. Thursday to Sunday only now, what a shame, will it ever now make a comeback?
I wander up to the Orme Sight statue by Thompson Dagnall, I think the original art installation in the park. Looking through his one eye one can see far away, yes the Orme on the North Wales coast.
From here I take minor forest trods upwards. Most of the storm damage which I experienced here last time has been cleared, must be all those volunteers again. There is not much sign of Autumn in the woods as nearly all the trees are spruce. I find myself on a ‘Sculpture trail’ and spot one or two new to me. Then I confidently find the correct path to the top of the Beacon with its trig point. There is nearly always someone here enjoying the view.
“The triangulation pillar is situated on the site of where the beacon would have stood. Records show that there was a beacon here as long ago as 1002 AD. Later maps show it as part of a chain used to warn of impending danger such as the approach of the Spanish Armada in 1588. More recent beacons have been used to celebrate such occasions as coronations and jubilees. Rising to a height of 266 metres above sea level the summit gives fantastic panoramic views of the Bowland Fell and Parlick Fell, with the coast beyond, Morecambe Power station and Blackpool Tower.”
I’ve seen it all before and as it is blowing a hoolie at the summit I move on quickly along the northern side of the hill to find a way towards the car park. I’m still the only car parked up which I strangely find a little spooky. A good 2.5 mile unintentional walk in and out of the trees. I was glad I had come out to the shops in the first place. Back at Craig Y a friend was going through the motions on the start of the traverse. I delayed him with talk of Warhol, Amsterdam, trees and Truss.
Losing the sunshine.
Cleared storm damage.
A ‘green woman’
The breezy beacon.
The spooky car park.
I’m looking forward to an even better day tomorrow.
My son had never been to see the Bleasdale Circle despite having walked around the Bleasdale estate since he was a young child. In fact when I think about it, we pushed him round in a ‘buggy’ when he was barely one. I had to remind him that was 50 years ago!
I must have a dozen or more posts regarding Bleasdale and have mentioned the Bleasdale Circle several times. Things didn’t look right today as we took the concessionary path towards the circle – the trees which enclosed it have virtually gone, I had to take a second look. As we came closer it was obvious that there had been severe storm damage since I was last here and the remaining trees harvested. To be honest the whole site looked a mess, all very disappointing, it’s going to need some loving care to make it presentable once more. The concrete inner ‘posts’ were still in place, but the interpretation board was undecipherable. The views from up high on the fells will no longer show the prominent circle of trees marking the site. See my previous photos here.
I quote from previous posts –
The circles are Bronze Age and were originally oak posts, an outer and inner ring. Discovered in 1898 and subsequently excavated they yielded a central burial chamber with cremation urns and ashes. These are now on display in the Harris Museum in Preston. The inner ring of wooden posts have been replaced with concrete posts. The orientation of the posts within the circle of the Bleasdale Hills may suggest some deep reason for their siting here.
We walked on around the estate at a slow pace as the temperature soared. Our plan was to finish the walk just before six when the Cross Keys Inn at nearby Whitechapel would be opening. The plan worked, and we enjoyed a beer and a good meal.
My friend and blogger Sir Hugh, conradwalks , often talks of ‘a bloggers gift’ Some unexpected happening or conversation that brings the story to life. He seems to collect these occurrences on a regular basis, many of them centred around a cup of tea with complete strangers. I’m secretly jealous.
Picture the scene – we are walking down a country lane when a man recognises me and enters into conversation. We are just passing his house, and he suggests showing us around his garden. We are not rushed for time, “Yes we would like that” was our innocent reply. The garden was large and unruly with many interesting plants. His main passion was apples and he had many varieties, most grafted onto stock by himself. We had finished the garden tour when his wife offered us tea, we couldn’t refuse. Next thing we were seated in the garden with tea and chocolate birthday cake. Talk was inevitably about the old times, we had many shared acquaintances.
As we came away after a good hour in their company I realised I should have had a photo of the occasion – a bloggers gift. Too late, what a missed opportunity.
Anyhow, here are a few photos from our stroll around the Whitechapel area beneath Beacon Fell. The emphasis was on beautiful Lancashire pastures with extensive views and on the multitude of very expensive properties, you don’t get much for less than a million. Mike was prospecting a possible route for a walk he is leading later in the month starting and finishing at the newly refurbished Cross Keys Inn.
Last year, when it was published, I ordered a copy of the new Cicerone guide book, Walking in Lancashire, by Mark Sutcliffe, I didn’t expect to find much new ground in its 40 walks that I hadn’t covered, but I thought it would be an incentive to get out in what still was some degree of Covid lockdown. Maybe one a week. Well, all that was scuppered by my plantar fasciitis, which virtually stopped me walking from August onwards. I would have been better with ‘Cycling in Lancashire’. Time has moved on, it is now March 2022, my heel is slowly improving, and I want to expand my walking distances and venues. I’ve been up and down Longridge Fell too many times.
The other day I picked up the Cicerone guide from my pile of ‘books to read’ and decided to start working my way through its offerings of day walks. A bit of a project, as my friend Sir Hugh would say. Opening the book, Walk 1 happened to cover Beacon Fell and the Brock valley, an area I know well, but it would provide a good introduction to the guide and Mark’s style of writing.
“Park at Brock Bottom. 5 miles with 800ft of ascent. 3hr.”
“This pretty route combines a riverside woodland walk through an intimate valley with a steady climb to the modest 266 m summit of Beacon Fell, which punches well above its weight when it comes to expansive views”
I wasn’t confident of those expansive views when I set off this morning in low cloud and moist air. The last two Covid years you wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere near Beacon Fell, but today only a couple of cars were in the Brock Mill picnic spot. In fact, I walked for 4 miles without seeing a soul. The riverside woodland walk was indeed a pretty route. The lively river Brock and the ancient mixed woodland was alive with birdsong. I reckon I can recognise most species on sight, but how I wished I could recognise their hidden songs.
A stretch of boardwalk looked decidedly dodgy.
Passing through the Waddecar Scout camp, which seems to have ready erected tents, I was wary of the flying tomahawks.
Most of this walk I did in June 2021and knowing the terrain, I was tempted to go my own way, but a bit of discipline made me follow Mark’s route – his directions were spot on. This led me to use a footpath up Gill Barn Clough, never before used. If you look carefully you can see the remains of the barn still visible under the moss which cloaks everything in the valley.
Emerging out of the clough into empty fields, the panorama of the Bleasdale Fells stole the show, as is mentioned in the guidebook.
I had never noticed this lone tree on the skyline before.
I was soon climbing up onto Beacon Fell. No sooner than they had cleared the damage from the storms at the end of 2021, then along came more storms last month, bringing down more trees. The views from the trig point were, as expected, a little hazy, definitely punching below weight. I couldn’t resist a coffee at the café, one must support local businesses. A couple sat on the next table described how their Alsatian had been spooked out by the coin encrusted crocodile.
Down through the new plantations, one a remembrance wood, into the coppiced willows and back to the car park where D of E Award expeditions were resting up – red, blue and yellow groups. They had a wet camp last night, but I hoped tonight would be better for them. They were all in good cheer.
I’m glad I’m coming home to a hot bath and a comfortable bed. A good introduction to Cicerone’s Lancashire walks.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote of the devastating storm damage in the forests on Longridge Fell, well today I witnessed the same on Beacon Fell. The difference being that here, as it is a public park, the foresters have been busy clearing much of the damage making the place safe for the public. I imagine that at the time of the storms, early December, the public would have been excluded.
I only came up here this afternoon for a short walk, I seem to have been up and down Longridge Fell most days during the holidays – time for a change of scenery.
The sun was trying to make an appearance.
Parked up in the little quarry on the quieter east side of the fell, a modest circuit was completed from there. The little pond was looking particularly attractive in the low light. I wish I could paint. Round the corner piles of cut timber started to appear and it was obvious that there had been a lot of storm damage in amongst the trees. Logging machinery was scattered about, being a Sunday, nobody was working. I expect that when they replant, they will use more sustainable native species. Where there is destruction, there is hope.
As I pedalled out of Longridge today I had no intention of going up Beacon Fell, but that is where I ended up, don’t ask me why.
Next week is the climate crisis meeting in Glasgow, so cycling and recycling could well be on the agenda. My carbon footprint today should be low providing I don’t switch on the central heating or eat any meat. Life is becoming complicated, with all manner of ways of going green. If we all recycled and if we all cycled instead of using our cars … but that is not going to happen. Pollution in our cities decreased drastically during the first lockdown, when nobody was going anywhere. Apparently the roads are busier than ever now. So what does our chancellor come up with in his budget to reduce global warming? A planned increase in fuel duty is cancelled because of fuel shortages and high prices. He has also cut the flat-rate tax on domestic flights to zero to encourage more flights. Those two decisions don’t look good for our green credentials in the international climate debate we are hosting next week. A case of business over environment. We will never reach our modest carbon reduction targets.
Anyhow, that is not why I’m on Beacon Fell. I’d been feeling rather guilty as I had opted out of a planned ride around the Guild Wheel yesterday with Martin. https://phreerunner.blogspot.com/
I’d woken up to monsoon rains and a dismal forecast, so I contacted Martin in Manchester to wimp out of a ride in the pouring rain. He agreed and I think cancelled his plans with others. By 11 o’clock the rain had stopped and there was a brief interlude of a couple of hours before the torrents returned — we would have been OK. Elsewhere in the NW there were floods and they have my sympathies. I still felt guilty and disappointed that we’d missed our ride.
Today looked like a repeat, weather wise, and I idled the morning away, but by one o’clock it was still just dry and bright, so I roused myself for a short spin around the lanes. Somehow cycling is not as spontaneous as going for a walk or run, all the faff of different clothing and oiling the bike etc. It is too easy just not to bother, especially for some brief exercise. But I need the exercise as I feel I’m becoming unfit and flabby from my enforced inability to walk far, Plantar Fasciitis, which seems to bring on red wine drinking and snacking.
The road out to Chipping seemed to fly along, maybe I had the wind behind me. Soon I was on quieter, more relaxed lanes and just went where the bike pointed. Before I realised it was pointing up Beacon Fell. So I dropped into my grandad gear and puffed my way up. I have been a little concerned recently by getting out of breath on any marginal incline, so I looked upon this ascent as a bit of a test. I’m due at my doctor’s practise for a proper test in the near future. Needless to say, I made it and pulled into the visitor centre/café at the top. It is half-term, so there are a scattering of outdoor type families taking to the pathways. The café is open as a ‘takeaway’ so I buy a coffee and sit at one of the outside tables. The coffee is not as good as usual, I wonder if they have changed suppliers and gone for a cheaper brand, I don’t say anything.
It’s nearly all downhill back to home but I come across a few interesting diversions which may show up on my phone camera.
As well as the gloomy global climate predictions I’m also concerned about the steadily growing Covid infections, hospital admissions and deaths. A close friend had a close encounter with a Northern Casualty Department last week, third world is how he described it. I’m just glad I’m booked in for my booster vaccination tomorrow.
Get recycling and save the planet.
Get your booster and save yourself.
A gloomy Bowland.
A gloomy Beacon Fell.
A gloomy BC.
In the highlands.
Not many of these about.
No way. I’ve been caught before. Don’t want to end up in casualty!.
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?
The four miles drive, hopefully allowed in Tier 4, to Whitechapel was treacherous after a severe overnight frost. Mike had already arrived in the Village Hall car park in his 4X4. We had planned to walk on the lanes to avoid the boggy fields, but the lanes turned out to be of ice rink quality. The modest circuit south of Beacon Fell was completed without incidence. I didn’t take many photos as we chatted away.
Old School House. Whitechapel.
St James’ Church. 1738. The village was named after it.
The Cross Keys. Recently renovated but yet to open. In the past nicknamed ‘The Dorchester’
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.
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.
I can just see Beacon Fell from my house so when Mike suggested a walk, if it stopped raining, I checked it out. Most of the morning it was in deep clag and at lunchtime it was still raining but about 1pm there was brightness coming in from the west.
We met up for our socially distanced walk at the Quarry car park which is usually quieter than the rest. The tracks were busy with families and dog walkers, this has become the norm during these lockdown days. A quick obligatory visit to the trig point had us chatting to friends. There were a lot of fit looking people running around clutching maps, and we realised there was an orienteering competition in progress – South Ribble Orienteering Club one of the oldest in the country
Our way off the fell was through one of those woodland memorial grounds. We watched a roe deer at a distance, it had a very bright rump and seemed unable to escape the fencing. These are magic moments recalling J B Priestly’s classic 1949 book ‘Delight’ in which he wrote of the many joys to be found in even the simplest things. Worth a read if you can find it.
The path was only slippery at the bottom where we entered coppiced woodland. On the road was Fell Side Farm which I’d never really noticed with its date stone lintel,1707. Of course Mike had been inside in the past.
The normally quiet lane was busy with traffic which turned out to be from a ‘cut your own’ Xmas tree sale at Higher Lickhurst. Once past this we had the lane to ourselves around the base of the fell to pick up a farm track and a steep climb back towards the top. Down below a pheasant/partridge shoot was in progress and the shots seemed frighteningly close. No further comment.
It stayed dry for the two hours we were out and the minimal effort to get some exercise and chat paid off. Here are a few random photos of the day.
A gloomy summit.
Would this help?
Grade II Listed Fell Side. [Rebuilt].
Will it fit?
Crow Trees Farm. Strangely this made me think of ‘A Message To You Rudy’…
The sun was setting as I drove home for mince pies.
I have done quite a bit of walking on the River Brock recently, in fact most of it from the source to Brock Bottom. Today we walk onwards towards the Wyre a less frequented destination, I was expecting a lot of boggy fields with awkward stiles and yes that’s what we found.
Leaving the village green of Inglewhite with its market cross we were amazed at the development spreading out into the surrounding fields. It all looked rather fine country living but where will it end. Anyhow, we splodged on to escape on to a minor road just ahead of a herd of inquisitive, threatening bullocks.
We could relax and chat for the next mile or so until we dropped on an old way to the River Brock. There was a footbridge crossing into the Brock Bottom Mill site, I’ve written about this before. Today we walked on past the mill sites and through fields to Walmsley Bridge.
Then more fields with the River Brock cascading down hidden falls until we seemed to be in someone’s vast garden alongside the river with the no doubt grand house hidden to our left, Brock Side. It is great walking with Mike, an architect, because he seems to have been involved one way or another in the past with many of these rural redevelopments. His, no doubt up to the best standards.
After a bridge and weir the Brock has been tamed along the next stretch by concrete walls. A private road runs alongside to a dead end and a footbridge. On the left, half in someone’s garden, is the remains of a water powered mill, Matshead paper mill.Over the footbridge a lane follows the river downstream under the motorway, railway and canal to disappear without rights of way into the Wyre. No longer the bubbly Brock from Bleasdale. There is another weir by the road and the site of the old Brock Station, closed in 1939 to passengers and 1954 to freight, now utilised as a nature reserve.
Off to join the Wyre.
Back to the footbridge we were supposed to turn into a yard and follow a path between houses and barns. All I could see was a gate into a ‘private’ garden but Mike spotted someone and asked where the footpath went and was somewhat begrudgingly told – through the gate and past the garage. I doubt few will brave this way. We emerged from a series of gates and gardens back into the fields where all was rural again with open views to the Bleasdale Fells and Beacon Fell.
These fields lead us to Bilsborrow Hall Farm, the hall itself is well hidden in woods across the way. We trusted to our directional sense to find a way through what was more of an industrial site than a farm.
The next short stretch of road was scattered with expensive looking residences, some more pleasing to the eye than others.
More awkward stiles and soggy fields led us back to Inglewhite and the Green Man, closed of course.
I have wonderful memories of Doreen playing the piano, despite her worsening Alzheimer’s, at lunchtime in August 2019.
I’ve spent too much time today researching some new boots on the internet. I still haven’t made a choice but I need to soon as my present pair are deteriorating rapidly after, I admit, 2 years of heavy use. It was raining when I logged in and now when I look out the sun is shining. I had a 7 mile walk in mind alongside the River Brock and over Beacon Fell, did I have time to complete it. Let’s see. I park at a strategic place giving me road walking at the end in case I run out of daylight. 3 pm start.
I’m soon going down an old track to meet up with the River Brock at a footbridge where I cross to the northern side. Up to Brock Bottoms parking this is a popular walk and I meet a few families splashing about in the river. At the bridge there are plenty of cars parked.
Once past the parking/picnic site I meet nobody for the next hour or so. Slippy boardwalks seem dangerous, the paths are merely boggy. Autumn colour is appearing everywhere. I complete my stretch along the Brock at Jack Anderton Bridge, no I don’t know who he was.
Then I’m on that wonderful lane, lined with beech hedges, on the edge of Bleasdale. Parlick peeps over the hedge like an extinct volcano.
Now some brisk road walking with the Bleasdale Fells in the background. The sun is already low in the trees as I climb up onto Beacon Fell. There is always somebody at the trig point though the car park on the other side is virtually empty. A new path, to me, takes me steeply off Beacon Fell down alongside a little clough to emerge next to the beautifully situated Salisbury House. All I have left is a mile or so of quiet roads to my car. 6pm finish.
The clocks change this weekend so don’t forget your head torch.
I parked up rather late in the day, to be honest I had missed the sunshine but roused myself for some much-needed exercise. It was 4pm and there was rain in the air. I choose one of my local ‘wet weather walks’ knowing all the fields were supersaturated. Once more this week I have a hard surface to walk on. I was up here a few days ago with Mike doing the ‘other half’ of the ‘Bleasdale Circuit’.
I walk up the estate road from the delightful South Lodge. Ahead of me are the bleak Bleasdale Fells with Bleasdale Tower, the big house, sheltered below. I pass cottages originally associated with the C19th reformatory school established here for juvenile miscreants. There is still an old post box in the wall.
The lane skirts the big house and heads off across the fell side. There is an upper lodge on the lane.
Now there are more open views across the fields to the surrounding fells, a rainstorm is approaching Beacon Fell.
I come out onto the high road heading over to Oakenclough and Dolphinholme. The Fylde coastline at Blackpool is prominent in the incandescent light, Blackpool Tower is always something to focus on if you can spot it.
A long downhill stretch of road and I’m almost back at the car. There is a prospering trekking centre and Tootle Hall, an old farm which used to be a café in my heyday.
I knew Beacon Fell car parks would be full on a Saturday. I knew Brock Bottoms car parks would also be full. The Covid-19 crisis is bringing everybody out into the countryside, no doubt the coast as well. Shouldn’t we be encouraged by all these people exercising in the countryside? Well no – the amount of litter I saw today and the inconsiderate and illegal parking problems were distressing and that was on a walk when I tried to avoid the hot spots. I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the British public the longer this lockdown carries on. Selfish and ignorant people are certainly spoiling it for the rest of us. Rant over – almost.
Having said all that I’ve just enjoyed a lovely evening’s walk without meeting hardly a soul, although I came close.
For a change of scenery, I wanted to visit Beacon Fell. I often walk there and back from home on field paths in a round of 12 miles but today I only had a few hours to spare late in the day. Consulting the map I reckoned I could walk along the Brock River and climb up to the fell without encountering the crowds.
Having parked my car on a quiet lane about 5 miles drive from home I set off at 4pm. The lane dropped me down to the River Brock near the popular car park. There were cars parked all over on double yellow lines as an overflow from the official carpark. The noise from the throngs of people by the river was all-pervading. Picnics, barbecues and drinking was the name of the game, all crammed together on the riverside. I’ve never understood the idea of bringing all your urban trappings into the countryside, but maybe they don’t have gardens or parks at home.
My plan was to walk upstream on little paths by the river and in fields, I never met another person – what a contrast. The Brock was fairly low after the dry weather we have had. I saw a couple of Dippers but otherwise all the birds were anonymous, singing hidden in the trees. The path is good with duckboards over the boggy areas. A solitary cottage is passed well isolated from the virus. Onwards through woods just above the river. An old ford in the Brock is reached at the bottom of Snape Rake Lane, there is a footbridge alongside. I can remember driving down here once many years ago, fording the river awkwardly in my landrover to drive up the other side only to find the gate at the top locked. A quick turn around and retreat had me coming back through the difficult ford rather red-faced. My reckless years. Today I was content to sit and look at the peaceful scene.
Climbing away from the river up the steep lane brought me into the woods high above the river.
I then followed quiet lanes up the northern side of Beacon Fell with improving views of the Bleasdale Hills. In the hedgerows tall Foxgloves, white Bramble flowers and wild Dog Roses were in profusion.
I knew a forest break that cut back right up the slopes of Beacon Fell. After the natural woods alongside the Brock, this appeared sterile and eerily silent.
At the top was the friendly old crocodile carving studded with coins.
I was soon at the trig point without meeting anybody.
Although on the way down towards the car park and cafe people were wandering about. it was here that I started coming across blatant littering less than 100m from bins. Obviously, the culprits expect someone else to come along later and clear it all up. The cafe and toilets remain closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
My way off the fell was through the Memorial Forest where you can purchase a plot and a tree as your fitting memory. Another memorial was a field of native trees donated by a former Countryside Ranger, a simple inscribed stone commemorated the gift.
Buzzards were flying above on the evening thermals.
A previously coppiced beech wood was traversed out onto the lane where my car was parked.
Longridge Fell is usually my quick fix hill for some fresh air and views but the tracks up onto it will be muddy, to say the least. I choose instead Beacon Fell with its well-made tracks, it is no further to drive. Longridge Fell Is reputedly the most southerly named fell so Beacon Fell must be the second being only one mile further north. I can ascend both of them easily from my house for longer walks but this afternoon I only have an hour or so spare.
As I arrive in the quarry car park a pair of Roe Deer stand and look at me but quickly disappear when I open the car door. I thought I had a photo of the male but nothing shows up.
I walk briskly in a circle around the hill on familiar paths. I’ve never come to terms with the waymarking here.
There are a few dog walkers out, the cafe is strangely quiet. Everywhere seems green and moss-covered, a sign of a mild and very wet winter.
As I’ve mentioned on previous visits up here storms have taken their toll on some areas of the forest with a lot of tree felling taking place to tidy things up. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as the fell has a more open feel to it now and some of the new plantings are of native deciduous trees. Also, wood carvers have been busy creating new pieces. I add a few more to my collection.There are ‘Green Men’ carved on some trees… … but today I find something a bit different – a ‘Green Woman’ or has someone taken a fancy to one of the lady volunteer rangers?
An obligatory visit to the trig point and I notice that the views to Fairsnape and Parlick are becoming obscured by growing firs – time for another storm?
I’m back at the car within the hour feeling much refreshed.
Normally I can see Beacon Fell from my house – but not this morning. A freezing mist hung over the landscape. Not to be deterred I wanted to walk up there and back, in deference to the weather and my late start I took the car some part way. I know these footpaths well as I often do this walk or a variation, it is in fact the first section of my Longridge Skyline Walk.
The snow was disappearing from the fields as I set off. Soon I was walking through the first of several developments where an original farmhouse with its surrounding barns has morphed into an expensive looking ‘hamlet’. This one is based around Higher Barker.
Familiar field paths [I didn’t need a map today] lead to the Cross Keys Inn where holiday type units have been built around the site, none ready for occupation in what is a speculative development. The Cross Keys was a farm-cum-basic pub run by brothers and known affectionately and ironically by locals as The Dorchester. What of its future?
The lane ahead is always soggy and today was no exception. I could hear a woodpecker in the trees of Whitechapel.
The sun was trying to break through the mist as I crossed fields to Crombleholme Fold another group of houses old and new. The sheep were surprised to see me emerging from the gloom.
Still no view of Beacon Fell which I knew was looming up above me. The trees were soon reached and as I entered them a small herd of Roe Deer passed in front of me seconds after taking this picture.
The car park at the visitor centre was virtually empty and I was the only one in the cafe where I enjoyed a good coffee. To reach the summit I followed the latest version of the walking snake, this one is expertly crafted from stone so should be more durable than the previous wooden sculpture.
I had the summit to myself with tantalising glimpses of Parlick and Fairsnape Fells through the mists.
A newish path, there are many since the storms of last year, and a concessionary bridleway through deciduos plantings took me out of the park.
A field footpath led me down to the fishing lake/holiday homes of Woodfold, another development which seems to be enlarging every time I pass this way. Do these places go under the planning radar?
My next aim was Barnsfold Farm environs where more sympathetic conversions were carried out decades ago.
Then it was muddy fields to Bullsnape Hall and back to my car just as the sun finally burst through. The final stile was a challenge.
I’m busy today but need a bit of exercise whilst the sun is shining. Beacon Fell is an obvious local choice so I skip lunch and drive up. I park in the free eastern quarry. There are a few dog walkers around the pond. I feel a little disorientated at a path junction where I expected to see the ‘Black Tiger’ sculpture, is it being repaired? Anyhow onwards past lots of storm damaged trees. I check out the ‘The Walking Snake’, I’d heard it was rotting and found there was little left. The same with the nearby ‘Upside Down Bird’, only part intact. Nothing lasts for ever.
Remains of the Snake.
Slowly rotting Upside Down Bird.
I went into the cafe/info centre and asked the delightful volunteer lady what was happening to the sculptures. “Never mind the sculptures have you seen what has happened to the trees?” I mentioned a few storm damaged seen as I had walked over. “The whole forest was devastated in the arctic storm we had a couple of weeks ago” Yes it was a wild few days I replied, were you up here then? “No I was in Lanzarote” That was another story. Apparently the tall trees experienced a ferocious wind from the east, not the usual, and with the thin soil hundreds were blown down or literally snapped. There has been a large cleaning up process to safely open up the pathways.There will be an even bigger replanting exercise. Click to read…
Getting back to the sculptures she told me the Black Tiger had been stolen!!!
The others were rotting and may be replaced, funds permitting. The head of the snake was languishing in the display room. Apparently the new fad of embedding copper coins into wooden structures hastens their demise. So new sculptures will be higher out of reach of vandals, though not necessarily thieves. She mentioned some new installations for me to find, and off I went.
I took the long circuit round to the west and eventually arrived at the ‘Crocodile’ which may be a lizard and found that the tail has gone so perhaps the coins are causing damage. Back up to the dew pond to admire the new Kingfisher beautifully carved to show the grain of the wood. Nearby I found a Frog.
I next went up to the summit for views of the Bowland Fells and Morecambe Bay. Just below the summit is an Owl carving that I’m not particularly fond of, too sterile and more like plastic than wood. There were lots of children on a school educational trip nearby and when I took out my camera general panic ensued with the teachers ordering the children out of the way. I felt embarrassed that I had unwittingly flouted their child protection procedures. I took a quick picture of the average owl and slunk off into the trees feeling chastised and wondering what is happening to our world.
Not a child in sight.
I couldn’t find any other new installations so it gave me an excuse to return to the information desk for more precise directions. The Woodpecker and the Dragon Fly were up in trees so I hadn’t been observant enough.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet”. An appropriate quote from Stephen Hawking who passed away on 14th March, 2018.
With that in mind I soon found the Woodpecker and the Dragonfly.
Walking back to the carpark I was amazed at the damage inflicted by those arctic winds. Could have done with some of those trees for my wood burner.
It was encouraging today to see the number of school children out and about exercising and learning something about our glorious countryside. I don’t particularly want to sour this post with grumbles about litter but there was lots of evidence that those children, here on environmental learning courses, had not learnt about taking their litter home. Teach them about this as well as the geology and trees. I came back to the car with pockets full of rubbish.