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.
Had an old mate up from Surrey staying with me last week. For a quick fix of fresh Northern air I took him walking up at Beacon Fell in the afternoon almost as soon as he had arrived. We did the usual circuit of tracks, visiting most of the onsite sculptures and the summit trig point for restricted views. There was something strange though – we never saw another person. Now that for Beacon Fell is very spooky, there is always, no matter the weather, somebody often with a dog using the paths. OK the cafe had been closed half an hour and it was a dull day but that wouldn’t normally matter. Not a single car in the car park or on the orbital road. I have never seen the place so deserted. Spooky indeed.
A few days later I repeated the exercise with family and grandchildren on a sunny Sunday afternoon. What a contrast, there were people and dogs everywhere. The car parks were packed and a queue was forming at the cafe for ice cream and teas. It was good to see so many people getting some exercise but there was an atmosphere of Blackpool about the place.
Everyone to their own choice but I know why I prefer the quieter times.
Another surprise was the change in the crocodile carving since I last visited, people have started to hammer in coins and I didn’t feel this was overly detrimental. The sculptor may disagree.
That dealt with the sculpture on Jeffrey Hill and I mentioned three others. Today I went in search of the one on Beacon Fell. The day was mixed with wind and showers but I felt I needed the exercise so I contrived a walk in the Beacon Fell area. Having parked up I took to the field paths to the north of the fell, not realising how much rain we had last night and how badly drained they were. Was glad to eventually climb the hill into the forest close to the Information Centre, a few brave souls were sat at the outside tables supping tea in the hail showers.
From near here I picked up the trail marked with inscribed stones leading to the installation – Beauty by Geraldine Pilgrim. The information panel explained…In the trees was a fragile looking glass box which on closer inspection revealed internal mirrors reflecting the forest. I wanted to look through it but had to be content with mirror images of myself as well as the trees.The piece seemed to work better from a distance [as in the first photo above] when the beauty of the forest was somewhat encapsulated in the cube, in the eye of the beholder.
Onwards over the fell and I came across a sculpture I had missed previously – the living deer.I hope that has completed my Beacon Fell sculpture collection.
Through the wintry showers Parlick looked imperious to the north….…. whilst far to the south the Preston skyline looked futuristic.All very beautiful in the eye of the beholder.
After my last post about rain the summer-like weather has been around for a few days and I was tempted out bouldering one afternoon which left me with an extremely sore left big toe. So back on my cycle for a few short rides but I felt the need to get into the hills. Was tied up most of Saturday until tea time, but then a quickly packed sac with basic bivi equipment saw me strolling out of Longridge at 6pm.
I planned to follow the first stage of my Longridge Skyline Walk [http://bowlandclimber.com/2013/02/02/longridge-skyline-walk/] and spend the night somewhere on Beacon Fell. What a beautiful warm evening as I walked through fields with lapwings tumbling overhead. The May blossom in the hedgerow was at it’s best.
Cattle were out enjoying the rich grass and were being a general inquisitive nuisance, charging about, one just has to be aware of any possible danger. The sheep and playful lambs were easier to share a field with.
Onwards through Goosnargh Golf Club with the fairways in prime condition. Further on the building work on the old Cross Keys Inn seems to have come to a standstill. inside is a surreal builders’ dining table. Made me think ‘Hotel California’ somehow!
More troublesome cattle accompanied me up the fields into the woods of Beacon Fell. A few families were about in the car park but the cafe was closed. I had planned to arrive at the summit for sunset but cloud spoiled the scene.
A new owl sculpture has been installed in place of the ‘hanging bat’ and I stumbled upon a wooden carving of a crocodile to complete my collection of Beacon Fell sculptures. [http://bowlandclimber.com/2012/11/29/beacon-fell-views-and-sculptures/ ]
As dusk fell I found myself a comfy bivi spot with views of the Bowland Fells.
Roe deer were wandering about and barked noisily for a while, obviously I was on their territory. Sitting there I was treated to a spectacular low flight of a Barn Owl looking for prey – spellbinding. And then the bats started there rapid flypast. Sweet dreams. I awoke at 5am as the sun came up but managed to doze off till 6.30, so I was away to a leisurely start by 7am.
My plan was to walk down the valley of the River Brock for a few miles. Bluebells and wild garlic abounded in the shade.
I was impressed by the depth that the small river has carved for itself over the centuries. This is Dipper and Wagtail territory. The path was in a poor state boggy an eroded so progress was slow. Nothing much else stirred until I came across the tents of D of E teenagers near Waddecar Scout Camp, they were just stirring!
Soon I was at Brock Bottoms where a few early dog walkers were out. This area has been tarted up with graveled paths etc. I just remember days with my kids hopping down the river and exploring the ruins of one of the many water mills. Now the ruins seem smaller with no sign of the wheel or any millstones.
Once out of the valley at Walmsley Bridge I followed field paths to emerge at the delightful thatched, old farmhouse of Scotch Green, I do wonder about the derivation of these names but there was nobody about to ask.
A rest stop at the village cross of Inglewhite was prolonged by a chance meeting of an old friend out walking her dog. The pub was closed for restoration, hopefully it will still have a bar for the locals who would keep it alive. The local chapel seemed to have a sizable congregation. On a wall was one of the old AA information plates – remember these.
Onwards down an old bridleway and ford, now bridged for safety reasons, into Goosnargh and back home for lunch!
That’s how I recharge my batteries and connect with the land in this beautiful area.
Today was cold but sunny so there was no excuse not to get out in the countryside. All the snow from last weekend had disappeared, though this morning’s frost had firmed up the fields.
There have been some recent footpath diversions north of Longridge and these were affecting a route of mine, The Longridge Skyline Walk. I therefore took the opportunity to walk some of these paths to update my route description.
Parlick with Fairsnape brooding in the background.
Having brought my route description up to date I felt it was time to re-publicise this excellent route. I would love to see one of you keen fell walkers complete the circuit in a day! Here is my original, rather lengthy article………
LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK.
Standing anywhere in the Loud Valley [The Vale of Chipping] north of Longridge one is aware of the beautiful surrounding scenery. Out to the west is space towards the coast but the remaining skyline consists of hills. Starting in the northwest is the well known Beacon Fell, and going clockwise around the horizon are Parlick, Fairsnape, Totridge, Birkett, Waddington and Longridge Fells. You will notice that these hills are all named using the northern word Fell, it is an interesting fact that Longridge Fell is the most southerly named fell in Britain.
Skyline and horseshoe walks have a fascination and draw for fell walkers, think of the many well known examples in our mountainous regions. They are usually fairly obvious in conception and provide a ready made visual and physical challenge. So it was for me, for many years living within sight of this round, and I have taken up its challenge on several occasions in the past, from the 70’s onwards. I soon realised the beauty, variety, relative isolation and rewarding views this walk provides.
However there was always a problem with my rounds, I was often trespassing! Large tracts of the moorland areas in the east were private, often with shooting interests, with limited rights of way. So the walk was for private consumption only, but always very satisfying allowing one knowledge of these ’hidden secrets’ of our northern hills.
However times change and with the implementation of the CRoW act nearly all the walk was either on Public Rights of Way or the newly created Access Areas. With the publication of O.S.maps showing the newly opened areas I was able to revisit more freely some areas of the walk and realised that a challenging circuit was now more feasible in design and description, if still no easier in physical execution.
Thus the 60Km / 37.5miles Longridge Skyline Walk [LSW] was reborn.
Much of the Forest of Bowland is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and rightly so. Hence many areas are well known to walkers and country lovers alike, but you will find following this round many new corners to be enthralled by and whole areas of rough fell rarely walked in the last few decades. When were you last on Kitcham Hill or Waddington Fell?
Bowland’s diverse landscape – heather moorland, blanket bogs, wooded valleys and lowland farms – make not only for interesting walking but also provide a rich habitat for flora and fauna. The area is nationally renowned for its upland birds, so providing one with an opportunity of sighting many species on the walk. Red Grouse, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Curlew, Short Eared Owl, Ring Ouzel, Redshank, Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrel and the Hen Harrier. The latter has become the symbol of The Forest of Bowland. Take a small pair of binoculars.
By the nature of the ground to be covered, this walk should not be undertaken lightly, access land in the AONB offers some of the roughest and most remote walking in Lancashire. A sound experience of rough fell walking and the relevant navigational skills are needed. Several miles are trackless and heavy going in the peat bogs. These areas are particularly difficult in the wetter months and are possibly best avoided at those times, not only for your progress but to lessen damage to the fragile terrain. Clear weather is a must really to help with navigation and to enable you to fully enjoy the outstanding views that the walk provides. The access areas may have seasonal restrictions which will be posted locally or found in advance from the usual sources. [Try Lancashire County Council] It would not be possible to take dogs on the whole route.
If the walk is started in Longridge the village of Dunsop Bridge makes a good halfway stopover if split into two days. There are limited bus services in the rural areas but Dunsop Bridge is serviced from Clitheroe. Other smaller stages over three or four days can be planned with the limited B&B accommodation in the area. Completing the walk within a day would be a severe challenge for the fittest of walkers and maybe not the best way to appreciate the scenery. There are a few refreshment stops notably Beacon Fell Visitor Centre, Dunsop Bridge Café/PO, Bashall Barn and of course Longridge itself.
Longridge — Beacon Fell. 10km / 6m
Starting from the Millennium Cross in Longridge one is soon out into the countryside with early views of the skyline task ahead. After a short stretch of road walking the route goes onto a series of pleasant paths through farming land, both arable and stock. The agricultural changes in recent years are evident with the loss of hedges, expensive barn conversions, diversification with fishing lakes and a new golf course. As the ground rises to Beacon Fell views open up across the Fylde. Beacon Fell was opened in 1970 as one of Lancashire’s first Country Parks and has proved very popular with its easy access and good tracks suitable for all. The information centre is worth a visit as you pass on the way to the summit [266m] with its viewfinder. This summit is the first of the day and hopefully the weather will be clear for the extensive views. Beacon Fell — Fairsnape Fell. 7km / 4.5m
Northwards the land now begins to change to rougher pastures approaching the higher fells, again the paths are clear and fairly well used. A wonderful area in spring for the sound and sight of Lapwings. Soon the bulk of Parlick is in front of you, but a winding old peat-sledge track takes you up the quieter side of the fell. The area is popular for gliding, parapenting and model planes so there is usually something in the sky to keep you distracted on the climb. Once at the top the fells stretch out before you and a good walking surface, enjoy it while you can, enables an easy section up to Fairsnape Fell with its shelters and trig point [510m] although the true summit [520m] is further on to the northeast. Fairsnape Fell — Dunsop Bridge. 10.5km / 6.5m
The enjoyment of the next couple of hours along the ridge to Totridge Fell [496m] will depend on recent rainfall. Although there is a fence to guide you most of the way do not underestimate the difficulty underfoot and detours around the worst peat bogs are unavoidable. On a day of good visibility this is an exhilarating stretch with views to the Lakeland Hills, the vast uninhabited area of desolate fells to the north, the Three Peaks area, Pendle and the Lancastrian Fells to the south. The last legs of this walk over Waddington and Longridge Fells become clear. At the end of the ridge the beauty of the Hodder below you can be appreciated before the steep descent into the valley. The Trough of Bowland road can be busy at weekends but fields lead past a pheasant breeding farm to follow the River Dunsop into the village by its bridge. This a popular destination and after the solitude of the fells the number of trippers can come as quite a surprise, but the ice cream is great!
Don’t forget to look at the unique telephone box celebrating being at the centre of Great Britain. Dunsop Bridge — Waddington Fell. 9.5km / 6m
This section of the walk covers new ground for most people and being trackless in parts will feel longer than the map suggests. It starts pleasantly along by the idyllic Hodder and then climbs to the exquisite wind blown, untrodden and heather clad top of Kitcham Hill [283m] From here rough moors are crossed to emerge through trees at the historic farm of Crimpton [Our Lady of the Fells] More rough trackless ground is crossed over Marl Hill [311m] heading for the mast [if you can see it!] on Waddington Fell. At one point navigation is helped by an old ditch once serving as a deer boundary for the important Browsholme Estate. Reaching the summit of Waddington Fell [395m] is a relief and most of the harder work is behind you. Once again you have stunning views from an unusual angle particularly good westwards down the length of the valley you have navigating round. Waddington Fell — Higher Hodder Bridge. 9.5km / 6m
Downhill all the way! From the trig point you follow the obvious ridge southwards by the wall and continue down the mapped access area until it stops 0.5km short of the next Public Right of Way. Having overcome this problem field paths lead to the delightful Talbot Bridge, on past an old packhorse bridge and close to the old Bashall Hall. Soon you will be enjoying refreshments in Bashall Barn, the type of farm diversity I appreciate. More field paths bring you to The Higher Hodder Bridge. Higher Hodder Bridge — Longridge Fell. 5.5km / 3.5m
A short stretch by the River Hodder and then you climb up to Kemple End a well known viewpoint over the Ribble Valley and Pendle. Now for a contrast you enter the sometimes gloomy forest leading uphill. Clearings are reached overlooking the Loud and Hodder valleys for relief until eventually you reach the final top of Longridge Fell [350m]. From the trig point enjoy the views northwards of patchwork fields below and the background of the route you have followed. Longridge Fell — Longridge. 8km / 5m
The long descent to complete the round. If you have been blessed with good weather you will be able see Snowdonia ahead and pick out the Isle of Man Hills across Morecambe Bay with a background of the setting sun. Or then again it may be raining! Following the very edge of the fell you will come to the road at Jeffrey Hill car park. Here there are interesting information boards about the area. There is the suggestion that the river Ribble may have reached the sea through the vale of Chipping at one time, being diverted by glacial deposits to it’s present more circuitous route to the south of Longridge Fell. The road has to be followed past the golf course for a couple of kilometres until you can take field paths towards Longridge. Near the end join the route of the old railway line which took stone from the extensive quarries to supply many Lancashire cities. Soon you are back at the Millennium Cross and maybe enjoying a pint in the Townley Arms reflecting on the last 60km!
Following days of heavy rain, and serious floods in other parts of the country, today was forecast to be sunny, cold and dry. This proved this to be correct. After a mornings work I was keen to make the best of the afternoon. A quick trip up to ‘Craig Y Longridge’ showed me there was still too much seepage for bouldering so I decided on a short walk on and around Beacon Fell. The tracks up there would at least be better than the sodden fields elsewhere. I can see Beacon Fell from the back of my house and subconsciously check it out for clear weather most days.
Today was perfect. In the summer months I have often used a circular walk through fields from home up to Beacon Fell and back. These tracks are a small part of my Longridge Skyline Walk which takes in Beacon Fell, Parlick, Fairsnape-Totridge, Kitcham Hill, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell, a round of over 60k. More of that another time.
Beacon Fell has been a Country Park since 1970. The good visibility of the fell made it a good location for warning beacons. These have been recorded for nearly a thousand years. Until the beginning of the last century it was rough farmland and then was acquired in 1909 by Fulwood Council as a water supply. Water was collected in Barnsfold Reservoir and from there piped to Fulwood via Horns Dam and Haighton. Conifers were planted to help drainage. After 1959, no longer required for water, it was left unattended until acquired by Lancs County Council and opened as an early Country Park. It seems to have gained in popularity ever since.
At 266 metres (873 ft) above sea level, small compared with the neighbouring fells, its position offers commanding views over the flat plain of The Fylde and Morecambe Bay to the west, the Bowland Hills to the North as well as the Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley to the south-east. On clear days, as today, the Welsh hills, the Lakeland Fells and the Isle Of Man are visible.
Bowland Visitor Centre
The park is well served with a welcoming visitor centre and cafe, open all year. From these car parks tracks wander all over the fell and forest. Pick up a leaflet if you are unfamiliar with the area. Today I was keen to climb to the top for the views but decided to seek out along the way a series of sculptures by local artist Thompson Dagnall. The first is just above the centre, Orme Sight, a grotesque face with a drill hole sighting through his eye onto the N. Wales coast.
As you walk up through the trees you come across the WalkingSnake, a remarkable 50ft long, winding, wooden snake which kids love to balance along until they come eye to eye with head!
Close by is an unusual use of trees uprooted and ‘replanted’ upside down to create the Spruced up Heron. I think this has changed from its original and now gives the impression of the bird part buried in an inverted position. Needs a new name.
Spruced up Heron
Unfortunately the Hanging Bat in trees near the top of the fell has been dismantled because of rotting timbers and won’t reappear. Further down the fell you may find the scary Black Tiger and Kissing Seat.
Black Tiger Kissing Seat
Anyhow to get back to the top of the fell and the trig point there were a gaggle of people staring out at the very clear views to the west.
Where is it?
As it says ‘on the tin’ there were commanding views in all directions – I don’t think I’ve seen them so clear! Snow on the Lakeland tops, lots more wind turbines in the Irish Sea, Isle Of Man looking very close and some heights to its left in the distance – must have been Northern Island. Unable with my camera to capture this scene, but no problem with the closer and impressive Bowland Fells of Fairsnape and Parlick, Waddington Fell, Pendle and Longridge Fell.
Pendle and Longridge Fell
I continued my walk around the northern slopes of the fell, on past the pond with lots of ducks and through avenues of spruce back to the Visitor Centre. Interesting displays about Bowland and surroundings took my attention. In particular photos of lime kilns in the Chipping area, the volunteers manning the display were knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. By the time I emerged the sun was going down low over the Welsh hills giving a fittingly beautiful view to end the day. Looking just like a watercolour wash.
[Don’t forget to click photos to enlarge]
The Clwyd Hills.
So a wonderful afternoon – some of the clearest views I’ve seen from here, a sculpture trail and added interest from the Bowland Visitor Centre. Did I mention you could see Blackpool Tower?