Tag Archives: Bowland

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – WHALLEY NAB.

Whalley Nab from the station.

Another walk below 5 miles from Mark Sutcliffe’s excellent Lancashire guide, this will be the last of his easy walks to test out my knee. The train took some of the strain today. I parked up outside Whalley rail station next to the impressive many arched brick viaduct. This is the longest railway viaduct in the county. It has 48 arches and two have been built to reflect the Abbey in architecture. It took seven million bricks, and they were all made on site of local clay. I hope it will show up later on my photos from on high. The platform slowly filled with shoppers and football fans heading to Blackburn. Being a Bank Holiday I was anxious that the trains would be running but the 11.30 arrived almost on time. It trundled slowly across the viaduct with the River Calder way below. Five minutes later I was the only one alighting at Langho station. The village had a small but colourful floral display.

My walk nearly came to an abrupt end on the narrow clough leading on from Whinney Lane. The enclosed path ran alongside a stream and a storm damaged tree blocked the route. I was glad no one was able to see me crawling through the fallen branches. I only just made it and then realised a family above were watching my antics with interest. Somewhat disillusioned the father made an effort to get through but then decided it was too difficult for his wife and children, and they retreated – I pushed on.

Jungle warfare – there’s a man crawling in there somewhere

Lanes then led up to York, a cluster of houses and an inn, which seems to have had a renaissance as a gastropub. Open ground with gritstone outcrops formed a ridge which would have been good to follow, but my way took me over and down to the dam of Dean Clough Reservoir and across to farm lanes weaving through these hidden valleys. Ahead was always the distant Pendle Hill but nearer at hand was a pointed peak which I later identified as Bowley Hill, there was no obvious way up it and as my knee was hurting I didn’t feel like adventuring.

Bowley Hill.

The ongoing lane was closed due to works on the bridge over Dean Brook, more contortions were needed to outflank the blocked way. Fittingly I next passed Sunny Bank Farm as sheep and lambs were relaxing in the warm sunshine. Just emerge yourself into Lancashire’s finest. A bit of naughty signage, Private No right of Way, had me doubting the onward path but there was an obvious track up to a stile and out onto more open moor. I could have reached this point easily, and possibly more scenically, from the reservoir dam. I took the less obvious way through the woods and emerged onto Moor Lane. I thought I had been here before on either Wainwright’s Way or my Lancashire Monastic Way. Pendle was again prominent ahead as was the transmitter on Whalley Nab. Over to the left was Kemple End on Longridge Fell and the hazy Bowland Hills behind.

The lucky young occupants of the cottage above Nab Side Farm were chatty despite being engrossed in their extensive hillside garden. A little farther round the hillside I took a break overlooking Whalley and its viaduct.

An enclosed and steep monk’s trod challenged my knee ligaments on the way down to the elegant bridge over the Calder.

I passed the old Abbey corn mill, now an apartment block and I noticed for the first time the water wheel preserved within. Somehow I missed the Abbey’s gateways and went through the streets, past the ancient parish church, back to the Station to complete my afternoon’s stroll.

Now could I do something similar tomorrow?

*****

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Nicky Nook, the quiet way.

                                                                                    The busy way.

Most people climb Nicky Nook, north of Garstang, for the view; Lancashire’s coastal plain, Morecambe Bay and the southern Lakes. I’ve been up it many times and that was my intention today, the sun was shining, and the weather set fair. On parking, I did a time check on St. Peter’s Church spire, 10.45. Yes, this is the familiar spire seen as you speed up the M6. Built in 1878 by the well known Lancaster architects Paley and Austin.

I’d walked a few hundred yards when it started to rain. I’m on the Wyre Way again. By then I was alongside the squat Wesleyan Methodist Church, built in 1843 when Methodism was strong in the area, there was no pub in the village. Here was a map of the three churches in Scorton – the next, the catholic St. Mary and St. James, 1861, was just up the lane. It seems half hidden behind the substantial priest’s house.

The three churches in order of appearance…

I’d become distracted by church history. Time to get going on my walk, another from Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Lancashire guide. Crossing the motorway,  a couple asked me the way to Nicky Nook – I pointed them in the right direction even though that was not my route today, I was going round the back on quiet lanes. Conversation drifted to the weather, we are British, after all.  She postulated that as we were close to Morecambe, the tide was probably coming in – hence the rain. I’m still pondering on that.

Going my own way, I passed by the Wyresdale Estate offering a café, wedding venue, fishing, woodworking, personal training and much more. I’m not totally comfortable with commercialism of the countryside. Brought up tramping freely on the moors, wild camping and nature watching, it doesn’t fit easily into my psyche. But judging by the number of SUV’s parked up, there is profit to be made through nature.

The rest of the morning passed as I used public ways around the back of Nicky Nook. But trouble was brewing when a large gate appeared across the track I was following, a way through was grudgingly available to the side. Timid walkers may have turned back at that point, which was probably the intention of the owners. This farm then took it upon themselves to divert the footpath away from their property, now a country residence. The sign said the right of way still existed through their yard, although that was contradicted by a sign saying guard dogs running loose. I felt pressurised to follow the diversion, which in fact turned out to be quite pleasant. But the point is that the landowners rather than pay for an official diversion, which they may not be granted, act in an almost threatening way. ‘We are rich, and we don’t want you on our land!’ I am  concerned that Lancs County Council, funded by the public, are apparently complicit with this outdated view. An update to Mark’s guide is needed.

Rant over and I soon made good progress on my quiet way into the foothills, I still hadn’t met another walker. You are right on the edge of the Bleasdale Fells up here. I surprised myself at the speed I reached the trig point on Nicky Nook. It was here that I met with the steady stream of people walking up from Scorton, header photo. Additional adornments are starting to appear on trig points which affront my personal sensitivity. I would have removed them if I’d been alone, but it felt churlish to do so in the company of the other eager summiteers. There was little view, it was freezing, so I quickly turned around and set off down to Grizedale.

Edge of Bleasdale.

The artificial reservoir looked black and barren, but the valley lower down, with its sparkling beck and native trees, was a delight. I struck up to Higher Lane, popular with hired dog walkers, Slean End and through the fields to the road where I’d parked. Just then, the sun came out.

I had time for a good coffee from the Covid Citroën parked up in the village.

*****

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – A lazy Sunday Wyre Walk.

Sunday and I take the easy way out again as lunchtime comes around. I pick another walk from Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Lancashire guide. Not wishing to drive far, I find a low level circuit from Great Eccleston in the Fylde. It turns out to be one of the flattest routes in the county, with only a few feet of ascent on the return leg. It was good to get this rural walk out of the way before the cattle are put out into the fields.

My plan when I revisited this book was to maybe do one walk a week as an incentive to get me walking farther, but somehow I’m up to number four in just over a week. So far I’m impressed with Mark’s style, he has chosen well, and his directions have been spot on – suitable for the casual walker. Today’s walk was complicated in places, and yet I didn’t put a foot wrong.

I find a place to park in the main street only to see it is an electric charging point. Having moved the car I walk out of the village past the old pinfold, on across the main road and down a well-used, dog walkers mostly, path to the river Wyre. Here is a fairly unique private toll bridge next to the Cartford Inn. The ‘cart – ford’ prior to the original C18th bridge. In the grounds of the inn are modern staycation ‘pods’. I recognise these from a walk I found for myself last winter, or was it the one before – the pandemic seems to have confused my recall.

Easy walking along the riverbank to a footbridge where I crossed to the road near the extensive and impressive, possibly haunted, grounds of White Hall. I often wonder who owns these multi-million pound properties – Russian oligarchs?

Using farm tracks, I joined The Wyre Way, linking farms in this flat rural landscape. This is the way I should have come on my disastrous attempt on this section when I almost drowned and then lost my map, leaving me with no alternative but to follow the road.

The guidebook said, “head for the grain silo” and it was correct, the silo stood out across the field, one of the tallest I have seen.  In the distance were the Bleasdale fells,  everywhere else was flat,  a strange landscape for one accustomed to the hills.

Turnover Hall was next. There were duck ponds with piles of grain to fatten the birds before they are shot. The Hall is surrounded by hundreds of caravans, whether for sale or in storage I couldn’t make out.  Oh, and just for good  measure, the obligatory junk waiting  to be recycled.

I rejoin the Wyre embankment and walk into St. Michael’s, arriving at the road bridge near the chocolate box cottages and the Medieval church across the way.

You know I like an interesting church when I see one, this one is Grade I listed. It is thought a church existed here, near a safe river crossing, from 640AD. The Domesday book mentions a church on the same site. The present structure dates from the C15th. When you enter the church, the most obvious and unusual sound is the loud ticking of a clock, the giant pendulum hanging on one side of the tower. There are two naves and a northern Chapel. This Butler chapel has older Medieval stained-glass fragments, seemingly randomly incorporated into the windows. In the same window is a C16th Flemish sheep shearing scene. In the west wall is a striking modern window depicting the parable of the ‘sower’. Outside is a ‘Norman’ door and an ancient mounting stone. In the graveyard are  three unusually shaped graves,  these are the ‘Soldiers Stones’ dating from 1643 when a Spanish ship was wrecked on the Wyre estuary and thought to be for Spanish sailors. 

 

Time to move on, and I take a lane heading towards a large modern house. Whoever built it had visions of grandeur now biting the dust, the house being an empty shell.     

The rest of the afternoon I follow drainage dykes across the landscape, eventually to rejoin the Wyre for the last time before re-entering Great Eccleston.  The two bulls face each other across the high-street, with a period Austin7 on show.                                               

  That’s quite a lot for a lazy Sunday walk in this quiet corner of west Lancashire.

*****  

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Parlick and Fairsnape.

I don’t often stand on the summit of Parlick Pike. If I’m heading up to Fairsnape and beyond, I take the easier traversing path bypassing it to the west, overlooking Bleasdale. But today I’m following another of Mark Sutcliffe’s walks from his Cicerone guide. I’m having a lazy week and doing walks without any planning on my part, just follow the guide step by step.  Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman and scholar. His extensive writings showed learning and eloquence and the term Cicerone, to guide and explain, came to be. Hence, the name of the guidebook dynasty started by Walt Unsworth and Brian Evans.

So I’m stood on the pike, 432m, the wind is trying to blow me off it, but the sky is clear, and the sun is bright. A perfect Spring day. The hard work is done,  I can enjoy the rest of the afternoon on one of my favourite walks. This circuit used to be my once a week fell run years ago, I’m just pleased that I arrived here today without stopping, well apart from those sneaky photo stops. Strangely, I nearly always did it the other way around –  I’ve looked into the reasons for choice of route recently.

Down into the dip and then a choice of routes either side of the wall, dogs one side and not the other, but I never understood which or why. The wall is a masterpiece of construction, stretching up towards the summit of Fairsnape. I remember once  seeing a squirrel running along the top of it, bound for Fiensdale?, there is not a tree in sight along the ridge. These walls and fences are excellent handrails when the fell is in thick mist, which it often is. The wind is too strong for the parapenters or gliders, so I have the space and the views down into the bowl of Bleasdale to myself.

The grass has taken on that dry straw colour regularly seen after the winter months when the sun shines on the steep slopes. I was so taken by it a few years ago that I asked a local artist, Rebecca Wilmer, if she could interpret it on canvas. She knew exactly what I meant, and in fact had some slides she had taken of the very hillside matching mine. A commission was agreed, and I proudly have the painting in my living room, not everyone sees it in my eyes or the artist’s, but I saw it up here today.

There is a distant haze from the summit of Fairsnape, 510m, but I know where Blackpool Tower, Morecambe Power Station, the Isle of Man and Black Coombe should be, so I don’t have to linger in the biting wind. Shapes emerge from the summit shelter, where they have been enjoying a sheltered lunch. I was last up here in June last year, when I spent a cold night bivvying near the cairn. But of course this is not ‘the summit’, to visit it you have to run the gauntlet of the local peat bogs in an easterly direction until some stone flags appear leading you to the highest point, 520m. Since my last visit, a large cairn has been built and there is a board telling you how efforts are being made to stabilise the peat hags and reduce the water run off.

It’s all downhill, literally, from here. A good manufactured path leads to a fence from where sunken tracks head on down Saddle Side. I pass the ruin with a tragic history. It is good to be out of the wind, skylarks are singing and once the fields are reached the sound of curlews and lapwings stir strong memories of the upland countryside of my youth. A dip into the valley of Chipping Brook and then the Wolfen estate road leads me back to my car. Wolfen Hall lies below Wolf Fell – possibly the last stronghold of wolves into the C15th.

I followed Cicerone’s guide easily, but I had to branch off to visit the highest point. Mark does not include this in his instructions, but his map does. Ah well, people will find their own way.

Full-frontal Parlick.

Decision time – straight up.

Parlick summit with Fairsnape behind.

That dry yellow grass.

Dogs?

Fairsnape summit’s furniture.

Boot sucking peat.

A reminder that the area was once a military firing range.

Point 520 m, with Totridge Fell in the distance.

The tragic scene on Saddleside.

Spring in the valley.

Wolfen Hall.

***

                                     Artistic impression from Parlick.  Rebecca Walmer. 2010.

*** 

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Brock and Beacon.

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.

NEWS FROM LONGRIDGE FELL.

*****

The last four days I’ve been up on Longridge Fell, four short walks. Today, the weather is too bad to contemplate going outdoors. Looking out of my window, I can now just see the lower slopes of the fell above the roofs of the ghastly building site. In the fields opposite, soon all will be brick.

Saturday, I was feeling stiff from our excursions on Crookrise the day before. But the afternoon was too good to miss, so I thought I would have another look at the tree damage on the ridge path through the forest. Nothing much has changed, and it is still difficult and awkward to follow. In one or two places, a chain saw, person unknown, has been in action to cut a way through.

I met a chap and his energetic Springer Spaniel walking far quicker than I over the fell, a  quick hello was all I managed before he sped into the trees. On the return journey, a recognisable Springer appeared at my heals and yes, looking behind was his master rapidly gaining ground. To cut a long story short, after some pleasant conversation, with the chap not the dog, it turned out he’d suffered a heart attack several years ago and following bypass surgery in Blackpool made a good recovery. His daily heart physio was a brisk walk on the fell, I applauded him on his fitness and expect to bump into him again if I can keep up. A positive lesson to us all.

Boundless.

Sunday came and almost went before I roused myself and suggested to Mike an afternoon stroll around the Cowley Brook Plantation on the edge of the fell. We caught up on our goings-on and enjoyed the warmth of the weak sunshine. We used some firebreaks through the conifers to the lower water intake and then followed the lively stream back up the hill. All very pleasant in this United Utilities land recently opened up for public access.

Monday morning, after arriving back from shopping, JD was on the phone stating confidently that there was a two-hour break in the rain and proposing a walk on the fell. He is not usually that optimistic. A quick change and we were leaving his house for a well-used walk along the northern base of the fell. The fields were decidedly boggy, and we often seemed to go astray on occasions linking up the farms. In the past, we have had trouble through the pheasant shooting woods where fences seem to cut through the rights of way, today was no exception with the odd fallen tree also blocking our way.

But what was to follow was unbelievable. The path goes steeply up the hillside through the woods to reach the golf course. We found the majority of the trees snapped or uprooted, a scene of complete devastation. I was too shocked to take my camera out. We battled on to find even worse, with a new sign saying the way was closed due to the tree damage. It was too late to go back, so a wall and fence were carefully climbed and then the worst of the devastation avoided reaching the empty golf course closed due to waterlogging. Of course, where we exited was a notice saying the way was closed. Too true. By then, our two-hour slot was over, the rain followed us all the way back to town. We were thoroughly soaked by then, and I just wanted to get home for a hot bath.

Tuesday and the sun appeared again. My lunchtime walk up the fell was accompanied by the sounds of joyful skylarks, a sure sign of spring. I had the trig point on Spire Hill to myself, which is unusual these days. As well as the Bowland Fells across Chipping Vale, the more distant Yorkshire three peaks were hazily visible on the horizon. I framed a photo of the trig point for a new desktop background. My usual ‘secret’ path back through the forest was also disrupted by fallen trees, It will be years before many of the damaged trees up here will be cleared. The car park at Cardwell House was filling as I arrived back.

Counting Crookrise on the Friday, that’s five out of five.  Not bad for this time of year. Today I’m content just to walk up to the supermarket.

Go careful up there.

ANOTHER INTERLUDE.

Wintry Bowland.

After the high winds, torrential rain and a morning of persistent snow the sun came out Saturday afternoon, enticing me (and many more Longridge residents) to walk around the block.

The air was still and almost warm, the hills were brilliant white and the birds were singing in the hedgerows. There were lambs in the fields. Simple pleasures.

I was glad I made the effort yesterday as today we are back to powerful winds and more rain. Don’t you just love British weather?

Here comes Storm Franklin.

AN INTERESTING AFTERNOON STROLL FROM CHIPPING.

There is a lot of bad weather about. Heavy rain most of the weekend and this morning, with storms forecast for the rest of the week. But there was a glimpse of sun this afternoon and I had something in mind. A post by Eunice (more of her later) and a comment from Sharon reminded me that it was snowdrop season, as if I didn’t know – having included a picture of a clump in one of my recent posts. Snowdrops are one of the first Spring flowers to bloom, helping us out of the winter gloom with shiny white petals.  I wanted to view a larger expanse such as at Lytham Hall or Bank Hall, Bretherton, but I knew of a ‘secret’ place nearby.

Leagram Hall sits on the hillside above our lovely local village of Chipping, originally a lodge for the Medieval Deer Park. It was replaced by stone structures in the C18-19th when the Weld family inherited  the estate from the Shireburns (of Stonyhurst). The present house was built in 1965 by the Weld-Blundell family. I’ve never visited the house but often walk past on a bridleway through the ancient deer park. I knew of a walled dell within their grounds which is renowned for snowdrops at this time of year. I was heading there today.

The elusive Leagram Hall.

In the parkland there were signs of tree damage from the storms of last year. An ancient oak was lying on the ground. How the mighty are fallen.

Farther up the lane and over the wall I had my first glimpse of the snowdrop spread. I was keen to get a closer look and even thought about climbing over the wall. Just then a woman appeared from the direction of the house. After a greeting and comments on the weather I asked her if she lived here. Yes she did. (She must be one of the Weld-Blundells!)  I stated I had come to see and photograph the snowdrop display and wondered whether there was any chance of getting closer. She explained the gardens were private but then proceeded to show me a hidden entrance, said be careful and left me to explore.

Over the wall.

Inside the sanctuary.

I could have finished there but as the weather was improving I decided to continue my walk up the lane towards the Bowland Hills. Laund Farm, (laund was a grassy area in a deer park)  home to a large herd of Blue Faced Leicester sheep. They pride themselves in the quality of the sheep milk cheese they produce. There was a new batch of lambs to boost the flock.

Pendle and Longridge Fell across the ‘laund’

Since I was last this way a new sign has been erected by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, along with its dedication to some local footpath activist. I’m always pleased to see these classy additions to the countryside and at one time considered tracking them all down – a mammoth task, no doubt completed by someone.

 

I continued on past the scattering of buildings at Birchen Lee, all slowly becoming more gentrified. The access lane from there onwards has been recently improved giving easy walking to the road under Saddle Fell, the starting point for one of my favourite ways of climbing onto the Fairsnape-Totridge fells. Today I ignored the heights and strolled down to a junction of interestingly named lanes. Some research needed there.

I didn’t drop down to Wolfen Mill, originally Dewhurst’s spindle and fly works supplying the burgeoning local cotton mills but continued down the steep lane, Saunders Rake.  Heading down to Chipping this passes the site of the Bond’s cotton spinning mill which later became Tweedy’s foundry, now occupied by a cheese factory. Farther on is the millpond for the still standing Kirk Mill, originally a cotton spinning business and later part of the chair making empire. There is a wealth of historical information on Chipping’s industrial past at https://kirkmill.org.uk/

Most of the chair factory across the road has been demolished and there were plans to develop the whole site into a hotel and venue complex. Not much seems to be happening on that front – we are all in for some difficult economic years.

Chipping was sleepy today. The Cobbled Corner Café,  thankfully recently reopened, but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. I shall have to have a cycle ride another time for cups of tea and toast. I remembered the last time I came this way and popped into the graveyard to pay my respects to Lizzie Dean’s grave under of the old yew tree.

A good use of a February afternoon and I would recommend this modest circuit, all on tarmac,  for keeping your feet dry at this time of year. There is far more to discover in Chipping than I have mentioned.

But beware storms Dudley and Eunice are on their way…

*****

 

BEACON FELL – Déjà vu.

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.

Not a word about the virus.

ANOTHER DAY — ANOTHER TREE.

I had been told by Clare, of Slate Poems fame, of another decorated Xmas Tree on the fell. I was up here to find it. Parking was difficult on this fine Sunday afternoon, remember the chaotic parking situation in our earlier lockdowns. The good weather had brought lots of families out at the start of the Christmas Holidays.

Would you believe it?  As I walked through the gate onto the fell, I bumped into Clare herself exercising her beautiful Collie.

I normally take the more northerly track overlooking Chipping Vale, I call it the ‘panoramic balcony track’, but there is also a track following markers going straight up the fell leading to boggy terrain, best avoided. Incidently this track goes through the site of some Bronze Age hut circles and burial grounds, I have tried unsuccessfully to locate these on the ground in the past. 

This was the way to the decorated tree and the way I followed today. The stone cairn has had an addition of balanced stones, often seen on rocky beaches, I suspect they won’t survive a winter storm. Not far past the cairn is the tree. It was decorated with more environmentally friendly items; fir cones, wooden ornaments and nut strings for the birds. Satisfied with my ‘find’ I continued on through those forementioned bogs to regain the regular track, which does have its own boggy moments.

The other Xmas Tree with its tinsel and Angel topping was passed, and I reached the Trig point. There were good views, but nothing compared to yesterday’s cloud inversion. Circling through the forest, I was surprised at the number of trees that must have come down in our recent storms.

Once looking across the Ribble Valley, Pendle and Samlesbury there was a repeat of the cloud inversion * in a southerly direction.

* Cloud inversions take place when the temperature is warmer higher up – such as on a hill or mountain – than it is down at the bottom of a valley

The colder air at the lower level traps mist and fog creating the impression of mountain summits floating above the clouds.

*****

Map showing the two Xmas trees…

AN ANGEL ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

I almost never set forth yesterday, the mist was so thick down in Longridge, but I wanted to continue with my renewed walking therapy. Friends had called in for coffee, so it was 2pm when I emerged out of the worst of the fog to park on Jeffrey Hill. The whole of Chipping Vale was a sea of cloud, with only the higher tops of the Bowland Fells visible across the way.  My route up the fell was shrouded in mist, giving a spooky feel to the place in the low sunlight. I had the feeling that I was being followed, but no one else was about. As I climbed the air cleared and soon I was above in blue sky with the ridge of Longridge Fell visible ahead.

I stopped briefly to place an angel on the top of the decorated Xmas tree, the reason for my venture after comments from my last post  –   https://bowlandclimber.com/2021/12/17/longridge-fell-christmas-tree/

At the summit was a lady with her Collie dog, she had been there awhile, enthralled by the views in front of her. It was indeed spectacular. Thick cloud filled all the valleys, and there above were the tops of the fells in sparkling clarity. Beacon Fell, Fairsnape, the Croasdale Fells and Waddington Fell. And in the distance the Yorkshire Three Peaks. All islands in the clouds. Looking down onto the mist I thought there was the arc of a broken spectre, but unfortunately it never really materialised.

Another walker arrived with his Springer Spaniel. Whilst the three of us chatted about the spectacle, the two dogs ran themselves ragged in a game of tag. I stayed longer than usual before drifting away as more people started arriving. I continued taking photographs as I came down the fell. By the time I had reached the road, a full moon rose from the east as the sun set in the west.

A perfect ending to a unique afternoon.

My pictures below don’t really do it justice.

FLANKING THE FELLS.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by accessible fells giving good local walking, but at the moment I’m restricted to cycling, so I’m making the best of any opportunity for exercise whilst the sun shines. Today’s ride took me around the Bleasdale lanes without much climbing up the fells.  However, I was surprised that when I plotted the route later, I’d climbed a thousand feet. It didn’t feel like that, there must have been lots of gradual ascents in low gear. Throughout the day I was treated to fine views of the Bleasdale Fells, Beacon Fell and on the run into home Longridge Fell.

Within four miles I was cycling through Inglewhite with its C17th market cross and then down across the River Brock into Claughton, a scattered parish by the motorway. Somewhere in the middle of it is Claughton Hall, but I only saw the western gate lodge. Up the lane was a medieval cross, at least its gritstone base.

On the map there was a lane taking me in the right direction, but it turned out to be trickier than I thought, and I ended up walking the last uphill half, all very pleasant though.

I was soon on familiar roads skirting the Bleasdale Estate, with the fells all around me.

The ‘back’ of Beacon Fell.


Fairsnape and Parlick.

I stopped for a break and was joined by a party of horse riders from a nearby trecking centre.  In the field to my left were dozens of dogs running about, some sort of canine day nursery. The staff didn’t seem very friendly when I stopped to look, perhaps they are wary of dog thefts at present.

Next it was mainly downhill on convoluted lanes with Longridge Fell ahead. I live at the base of the fell, so no further climbing was needed.

The sun was a cold November grey by the time I pulled into home. Another simple 20 miles through Lancashire’s countryside.

*****

THE RIVER DUNSOP.

The River Dunsop runs for only 2.3miles from the junction of its tributaries, the Brennand and the Whitendale rivers deep in the Bowland Hills, to where it enters the Hodder below Dunsop Bridge. At its head are weirs and fish ladders, trout should be heading up stream at this time of year. I’ve had a couple of forays onto the Hodder and the Lune in the last week in search of leaping fish, with no luck. My plan today is to check out the weirs at the head of the Hodder. The rain isn’t due until lunchtime, so I’m away earlyish.

  Because of my troublesome heel I’m avoiding walking any distance and this is why the River Dunsop has been chosen. From the café in Dunsop Bridge there is a private road, recognised as a bridleway, conveniently running alongside the length of the river. In past times I would have cycled all the way from Longridge, but today the bike is in the back of the car until the car park is reached. The crowds of summer have gone and there are only two other cars parked up.

  I pedal along happily taking in the scenery with Middle Knoll blocking the head of the valley. Despite it being a dull autumn day the situation is as dramatic as ever. The weirs I was aiming for are by the bridge at the junction of the rivers.  I’ve come this way many times before and photographed it in the sunshine. Such as here.

   You’ve guessed it — I saw no fish.

    Not really disappointed, my chances of leaping fish were low, I cycled farther up the track to look up into the Brennand Valley which seems to go on for ever into the distance. I’ve not explored that area for some time. From the map there are possible tracks all the way to the remote Wolfhole Crag. Likewise, I then intended cycling up the right-hand track for a short distance to obtain a similar view into the Whitendale Valley, but a notice banned cycles. That is the way to more desolate moorland past the Duchy farm, which I last walked going through to Hornby on Wainwright’s Way. 

The Brennand valley.

  It was good to be in this wonderful place even if only on the humble road low down in the valley.  It was a quick turn around and a gentle ride back to the café for coffee. The larch trees turning yellow lend some colour to the scene. 

Back down the valley with rain approaching.

The bridge over the Dunsop.

Puddleducks’ cafe.

  For anyone wanting to sample the wildness of Bowland without the commitment, this short journey up the valley, preferably on foot, is highly recommended. You can tell I’m passionate about Bowland.

Whilst driving home for lunch the rain started in earnest. The morning had been well spent.

 

RE-CYCLING.

  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.

 

Coffee.

 

In the highlands.

 

Not many of these about.

 

No way. I’ve been caught before. Don’t want to end up in casualty!.

 

*****

THE INNER CIRCLE, JEFFREY HILL.

Feeling rather despondent after struggling to cycle around Longridge Fell the other day. I had  been hoping soon to embark on a multiday cycle tour but now I was full of doubts, what would be my daily mileage. Realistically, I should be able to average 40 miles or more per day in hilly country, but I thought I was falling short of that. I’m getting older and I don’t have a scale to measure myself against, what I could do 30 or even 20 years ago doesn’t apply any more. I’m getting out of my depth.

I eventually stirred myself this morning as the weather brightened — time to test myself. From my house to the top of Jeffrey Hill is a mere 4 miles but is constantly uphill with 700ft of ascent. I aimed to cycle it without a break. Today’s route is in red compared to the circuitous blue of a few days ago.

I started slowly up through Longridge’s burgeoning housing estates. Summoning up some speed to pass the dog walkers, trying to not look out of breath. At the golf club the road was closed for drainage works but I squeezed through to remount and climb triumphantly to the summit of Jeffrey Hill just past the car park.  Views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills in one direction, the Three Peaks in the centre and Pendle in the other direction were too hazy for photography. A swoop down to the New Drop, now sold and being converted into apartments, and a right hand turn to follow the undulating road back past Craig Y, Upper Dilworth Reservoir and into town.

Approaching Jeffrey Hill.

Down to the New Drop.

Upper Dilworth Reservoir and The Fylde.

This took me just over an hour and I felt quite pleased with myself, slow but steady. I wouldn’t win any race, but I had proved to myself that my legs and lungs still have it. I’m trying to convince myself that cycling is wonderful.  My next ride — that road going the full length of the fell to Birdy Brow and the Hodder. Watch this space, not that it will be very interesting.

BRING ME SUNSHINE.

    I hadn’t intended to come to Heysham but the day seemed suited to exploration. I had parked up again at Halton station and cycled into Lancaster on the old line, as I did last week on my trip to Glasson and beyond. My plan today was to continue on the 69 cycle way into Morecambe and then explore the coast northwards. I was soon crossing the Lune on the Millennium Bridge and then taking another old railway line, still cycle route 69, westwards. Two thirds along here I noticed a marked turning perhaps towards Heysham and on a whim diverted off onto what must have been a branch line of the railway. I was now in the hands of the sign setter. At first, I was on a cycleway between horse paddocks, but then I was directed into suburban streets, thankfully traffic free. Signs were followed until I lost them, and then I followed my nose into the inevitable cul-de-sac in Higher Heysham. A bit of backtracking and then a bit of the main road past the C16th Old Hall Inn down to the ferry terminal.  Not the best way into Heysham.

At last the sea was now in sight. The road came to an abrupt end, but I was able to cycle through on a rough path to arrive at Half Moon Bay where there was a café, but every seat was taken. An advantage of cycling over walking is that it is easy to continue on to the next source of refreshment, though that didn’t quite work out.

Half Moon Bay.

Onwards and I found myself in Heysham Village. Lots of quaint alleyways, I remember from years ago a house selling potted Morecambe Bay shrimps, but couldn’t see it today. Soon I’m alongside St. Peter’s Church. It is thought that a church was founded on this site in the 7th or 8th century. Some of the fabric of that church remains in the present church. In the graveyard is an Anglo-Saxon cross and a stone grave. A track goes up onto Heysham Head to the ruined C8th St. Patrick’s Chapel. Most people come here to view the ‘stone tombs’ — a group of six rock-cut tombs and a separate group of two rock-cut tombs. Each tomb has an associated socket, probably intended for a timber cross. I have to say that today with a perfect blue sky and clear views they were magical.

  I found my way back onto the promenade around Morecambe Bay. Views across the water to the Lakeland Fells held my attention as I approached the West End of Morecambe. I was soon alongside the 1930s art deco Midland Hotel. Somewhere along here is the proposed site of the Eden Project North, which is expected to bring back prosperity to this ageing seaside resort. I’d never been down the ‘stone jetty’ to the old lighthouse, it was along here that a fellow blogger described what she thought was the ugliest sculpture, I’m inclined to agree with her.

  Also on the jetty is a bell that only rings at certain high tides. This bell is one of several around the coast of Britain  connecting us with our maritime heritage and a timely reminder of climate change. https://timeandtidebell.org/#

Bay surging, channels filling, sun setting, I ring, I sing. Listen in.”  written by the local artist community is going to be engraved onto the bell.   I must come back one day at high tide.

   The promenade is wide all along the front so cycling was possible without endangering the crowds enjoying views. I don’t stop at every attraction, I came this way back in 2109 whilst walking A Lancashire Monastic Way, but I have to visit Eric Morecambe’s statue on a sunny day like this.   

Commander C G Forsberg. Master Mariner and Marathon Swimmer.

 

  From time to time I stop and gaze across the water to the Lakeland silhouettes and as I round the Bay, Arnside Knott and Grange become more prominent. “Best view in Britain” one of the locals tells me. I knew of a café at the far end of the promenade where I thought I would get a snack, but time had flown, it was now 3.30 and they had closed.

   The main road had to be used to enter Hest Bank where I found a garage that sold coffee and pies. I sat outside, still enjoying the warm sunshine. It’s always a mistake to ask a local motorist for directions when you are walking or cycling. ‘Go down the road until the traffic lights‘ – no mention of how far that is. ‘Follow the signs to Slyne and at the T-junction turn left to Halton’. After the lights half a mile away, I ended up on the busy A6, there wasn’t a T-junction and I was almost back to the garage where I started. At least I was on higher ground and had a good run down over the M6 into Halton, with the Bowland Fells in the background, and over the narrow bridge to my car, the last in the car park.

  There may not be many more days like this as Autumn draws in — bring me sunshine any day.

 

*****

SOIXANTE NEUF.

    I thought I’d give this post a sexy title to boost readership. Not that I look at all sexy in my fading Lycra cycling shorts. There should be an age limit for appearing in public wearing Lycra, and whatever it is I am long past it.

  I’ve driven up the motorway, coming off at Junction 36 and found the narrow lane leading down to a car park at the redundant Halton station. This is on the old Morecambe to  Wennington line which closed under The Beeching Act in 1966.  Route 69 of the National Cycle Network connects Hest Bank on Morecambe Bay with Cleethorpes on the East coast and uses this section of line from Morecambe to Caton.  Off I pedal westwards on the 69 into Lancaster. The River Lune is mainly hidden and I don’t recognise much until the Millennium Bridge where the 69 crosses the river. I’m heading to Glasson Dock, so I stay on the south side of the water. There seem to be a multitude of cycle paths in Lancaster and just following my nose I end up under the castle with the priory church looking down on me. A few streets later and I find my way back to the river which is not looking its best, the tide is out exposing lots of mud. I’ll locate the correct way next time.

Halton station.


Soixante neuf.


Under the M6.

The canal aqueduct.


The new Greyhound and Millennium Bridges.


Priory church — getting lost.


Lost.

   Eventually I’m safely on the old railway track heading to Glasson. Lots of cyclists are using this route, I keep leapfrogging various parties as we go at different speeds, and I’m frequently stopping to take pictures of the Lune estuary. I have walked this stretch in the past when I was connecting a Lancaster Monastic Way. It is interesting to contrast walking a route and cycling it. One misses the little details as you ride by and although everyone says hello there is no chance to chat, that is until you reach a café and then can delve into gears and stems. As I don’t know one stem from another, I avoid the busy cyclists’ rendezvous at Glasson and cross over to the little shop which has freshly baked pies and good coffee. Here I can talk to the mature couples who have motored here for a good old-fashioned afternoon out. And of course there are the fishermen with their ready tales of yesterday’s catch.

Glasson across the marshes.

Up the creek?


Lost forever.


Smell that coffee.


Pike?

   A lot of the cyclists head back the way they came, but I’m in for exploring different options that I’ve spotted on the map. So off I go along the rough narrow track, you couldn’t call it a towpath, alongside the Glasson Branch Canal to meet up with the Lancaster Canal. Ahead are the Bowland Hills, looking splendid in today’s sunshine. An easy option would be to follow the canal back to Lancaster, but I’ve walked that stretch many times.

The Glasson Branch

Endless games of fetch the stick.


Junction with the Lancaster Canal.

  So again I go my own way again, threading through Galgate and onto lanes crossing the motorway and leading into the hills. There is only one bit I have to walk up, and then I’m onto the lovely high level road to the scattered houses of Quernmore. From up here are views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Fells with the Bowland hills rubbing at my right shoulder. I sweep down past the isolated Quernmore  church and on to the entrance to Quernmore Estate at Postern Gate which I recognise from our  ‘trespass’ on the straight line from my house to Sir Hugh’s in Arnside.  I daren’t risk cycling through today so I take the busy road down to Caton and am soon back onto  that rail line  — Route 69.

Lancaster University, Morecambe Bay and Black Coombe.

Grit Fell.


Quernmore Church.

Postern Gate — tempted.


Down to Caton.

  This last section back to Halton is impressive by dint of passing over two viaducts above the Crook Of Lune built in 1849 to carry the railway. This is a popular spot today with tourists, walkers and cyclists. There are stunning views up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough. Turner’s painting of the scene, pre railways, shows  the original Penny Bridge carrying a road. This road bridge was rebuilt in 1889 and stands just below the East Viaduct. A long stretch in trees with little sight of the river has me back at Halton Station.

Eastern viaduct.

The Lune valley eastwards.

Crook of Lune road bridge.


Western viaduct.

Halton Bridge.

I go down to the river near the wrought iron lattice bridge built in 1911 from the remains of the Original Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster. Sitting quietly in the sunshine, contemplating the slow flow of water before hitting the motorway. I didn’t need that sexy title  — this landscape has no need of titillation.

*****

A RURAL RIDE FROM LONGRIDGE.

  Not a footpath in sight, not a stile climbed, not a fell summited, and you will be pleased to hear not a church visited. Oh! Well, maybe just one. My heel is playing up just when the weather is bucking up. Not to be defeated, I drag my bike out of the garage and do a few short rides around Longridge. So today I was ready for a longer ride. Out to Bashall Eaves, Cow Ark, Chipping, Whitechapel and back, about 29 miles (47 km) or so.

  Cycling brings a different aspect to one’s locality. No flowers to identify, no birds to watch, no passing conversations. Just the tarmac ahead and that steep ascent looming. Today I concentrate on the inns that I pass, past and present. In the Ribble Valley and Bowland we have been lucky to have had an excellent selection of quality establishments. Rural inns have a long pedigree, their names tell us much of the local history. Unfortunately the country inn has suffered from economic pressures and several hostelries have bitten the dust.  Covid has had a serious effect on the hospitality business.

    On my corner is the Alston Arms, now The Alston which has had several reincarnations since its establishment in 1841. It has survived the COVID lockdowns and  seems as busy as ever with locals, a large outside seating area has helped. Strange that I have not visited since over two years ago, when it was the favourite venue of my friend developing Alzheimer’s disease. She always ordered the same — fish, chips and mushy peas. And they were good!

  The second one encountered on the road is the Derby Arms, recently reopened after a period under a fish franchise, The Seafood Pub Company,  It looked open today for lunch, so all is well, hopefully. The area around here was part of the Derby Estate. The Stanley Family, Earls of Derby, established lands in Thornley here, hence the pub’s name.

  Along the way through Chaigley I pass the former Craven Heifer Hotel. The Craven Heifer became a popular pub name, particularly in the Craven area, so I don’t know how one popped up in Bowland. This hotel was a regular eating place at the end of the last century, it closed Christmas Eve 2008. Since then, it has been a private residence.

  On the way down to the Hodder I passed these gates which are normally locked. Today they were open, and I had a quick peep into their lands, with a lake and a large house in view. No idea who lives here. Chadswell Hall.

  I stopped off at the Higher Hodder Bridge, the river was as low as I’ve seen for a while. Just up the road is the former Higher Hodder Hotel. This was another hotel with a long period of serving good food and ales. It became well known to the fishermen casting in the Hodder below. I noticed on an old photograph a petrol pump in its forecourt, those days are long gone. Its demise came in 2001 with a severe fire from the kitchen. Bought by a local businessman and converted into apartments. It still has problems with erosion from below where the Hodder flows, undermining the banks. One day it may all fall into the river.

  At the next crossroads I knew of an ancient milestone but had never stopped to investigate, Today I had a good look at it. There was lettering on two sides with mileages.  On the West face  To Preston 10M. To Gisburn M8. On the North face
To Lancaster 16M. To Whalley M3.  1766. It turns out that this is Grade II listed.

  The next pub is the Red Pump in Bashall Eaves. This had been closed for some time when it was resurrected by the present owners in 2014, who turned it into a ‘gastropub’ with accommodation including recently added Glamping Yurts and Shepherd Huts.  I notice that it has restricted opening hours, so calling in for a pint is not always possible. The pub has a connection to a murder mystery  that was never solved.