Tag Archives: Bowland

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

 Last night after a bouldering session at Craig y Longridge I drove up the fell and took in the familiar view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. In front of me were the Fairsnape, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack and Totridge Fells. How many times have I photographed this scene?  I’ve not been on the easterly of these for several years so there and then I decided on a full traverse of the range today. For every 100 visitors to Fairsnape there is probably only one on Totridge.

I can’t explain why I sat in bed with a couple of coffees delaying my departure. Sloth had taken control and it was with a great deal of difficulty that I finally emerged and started the walk at 11am. By then I realised a full traverse and return of 13 miles or so was impractical and I opted for a shorter 9miles from Saddle End, missing out Fairsnape. The heat of the last few days was diminished by a westerly breeze. Old tracks rise up from Saddle End farm and soon the open moor is reached. A steady metronomic pace is tapped out by my walking poles as I gain ground. There is not a soul in sight.

Saddle End Farm and fell.

On the 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and
walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were caught in a blizzard which resulted in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so police and locals searched with BAC loaning a helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy two Mountain Rescue teams were formed in the area, the forerunners of Bowland Pennine MRT.

I mention the above because it is thought the boys may have sheltered in a small stone hut. I remember early walks on Saddle Fell in the 70’s the hut being by the track I’m on today, its roof was almost intact. Now it is a pile of stones but with a tragic history which I recollect every time I pass.
Reaching the wild top of Saddle Fell ignoring the track to Fairsnape I turned east at the watershed to follow the fence towards Totridge seen a couple of miles away. This stretch of fell is usually one of the boggiest in the area, I’ve been pulled out of the depths on one occasion,  deciding which side of the fence is the least hazardous often means crossing repeatedly without any real advantage. Today however the peaty ground was bone dry and I could just enjoy the scenery without any risk of sinking, the wooden poles placed to give buoyancy in wet conditions totally unneeded. [By the way the best ‘path’ is on the left of the fence.]

The views are far stretching over the Bowland area and all the hills and valleys I’ve been walking recently are identifiable. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are in the hazy background. Difficult to capture on camera.

Up here in this bleak wilderness one plant brightened up the peat bogs – the yellow starry flowered Bog Asphodel.

All I had to do was follow the fence, there is one pond to navigate found and a short section above Whitmore where you leave the fence at a tangent and take off into the peat to regain a wall in a short distance before rising onto Totridge and a final open track to the trig point at 496m. The trig pillar is looking decidedly unstable as the peat below it erodes, it will topple before long.

From the top a small path, not marked on the map, heads NE to drop steeply off the fell towards Mellor Knoll. If the correct line is taken zigzags descend quite pleasantly, not so pleasant ascending.  Halfway down today I found a place to sit, eat my sandwiches and contemplate the views over the Dunsop and Hodder valleys. In the distance over Mellor Knoll was a glimpse of Stocks Reservoir I walked around last week and closer at hand, above the Hodder, the tree capped Birkett Fell again climbed recently.

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

I dropped down to the fell wall and joined the bridleway coming from Hareden which goes into woods of beech and chestnut where I met the first people of the day, three gents enjoying the area.

My way back was on a series of bridleways and paths linking remote farms in the limestone country below the fells. Higher Fence Wood, Dinkling Green and Lickhurst. From the latter the track went further back up into the fells than I remember and I speeded up a little as bad weather was coming in.

Lickhurst Farm.

I used to cycle these ways when my children were getting into mountain biking, I don’t remember these stepping stones by a ford below Burnslack.

I arrived back at the car just as the rain did, my dilatory start almost catching me out.

*****

 

STOCKS RESERVOIR WALK.

A couple of years ago I ended up walking around Stocks Reservoir almost by mistake from Slaidburn and realised too late there was a new path courtesy of NW Water actually crossing the dam wall to complete a shorter circuit. Today along with JD and Sir Hugh we enjoyed this shorter circuit of Stocks Reservoir.

We met up at a lonely spot on the road from Slaidburn to High Bentham. This is one of my favourite routes into Yorkshire, a little further from where we rendezvoused is Cross of Greet Bridge over the infant Hodder and from there the road goes up to a lonely pass between White Hill and Catlow Fell. Then a sweeping descent over the Tatham Fells into High Bentham passing on the way The Great Stone of Fourstones, a glacial erratic, perfect for bouldering on. I digress.

Our remote car park.

We were soon on the well waymarked trail but with no sign of the reservoir. A flagged path through fields took us down to the Hodder where a footbridge has replaced the original stepping stones. I realise all too late that at the centre of my camera lens is a blob of suntan cream – an amateur mistake which will plague me all day.   There is a memorial plaque to a Gil Moorehead for which I can find no information.

Chatting faltered as we climbed the steep slope to the ruins of New House, one of the many farms abandoned when The Fylde Water Board purchased land for water catchment in this valley around the time of WW1. From up here, we had our first sight of Stocks Reservoir which is named after the village of Stocks which disappeared under water when the dam was built and opened officially in 1932 flooding the valley. The adjacent Gisburn Forest appropriated more farming land. The history of the whole enterprise of constructing the reservoir is detailed on a fascinating website Dalehead and Stocks in Bowland.

As we walked down towards the water a trio of fellrunners passed us coming up the hill only to be encountered once again later in the day as they completed their circuit. We agreed that this is a ready-made perfect little run.

The path was varied with sections of woodland and open meadows. The latter were full of flowers at this time of year, orchids, foxgloves and many varieties of grasses.

There are birdwatching hides and we visited one overlooking the water. Below we could see many geese, cormorants, ducks and gulls but the lists of more proficient ‘twitchers’ were extensive with over 50 species seen some days.

Down at the main car park are the remains of St. James Church which was demolished and rebuilt on higher ground. We speculated on the origin of a nearby spectacular Weeping Beech.

Onwards a new path has been created to avoid the road until we reached the causeway, here mountain bikers swooped out of Gisburn Forest. Immediately we were back on a concessionary path above the reservoir and missed out seeing the resited St. James Chapel. We walked through meadows with good views over the water to the Bowland Fells, little boats carried fishermen to various parts of the Reservoir.

At the dam we crossed over the Hodder culvert and had lunch sat on top of the dam embankment watching fishermen cast into the waters with the occasional catch of rainbow trout.

The cafe for fishermen didn’t look inviting so we pushed on.

We were now walking on an old railway line up to a quarry where stone was supplied to the dam construction team.

We were soon back at the cars ready for a slow journey home…

*****

 

 

 

 

BIRKETT FELL, A BOWLAND JEWEL.

 I can see tree-covered Kitcham Hill on Birkett Fell from my kitchen window, not many people visit it so when Sir Hugh fancied a walk in Bowland I suggested it with a caveat of possible difficult terrain. As a SAS induction course the day went well  – gentle stroll, steady ascent, demanding ascent, open warfare, wire entanglements, jungle terrain, interrogation, trespassing, orienteering, bullfighting and more Jungle warfare. That’s a breeze compared to the Duke Of Edinburgh’s Silver aspirants out on the hill at the same time.

It wasn’t meant to be like this, I’d had a hard day previously on Middle Knoll up the road. Today’s hill was lower and there was only a bit of rough ground to reach its summit, after that it would be good footpaths.

The stroll by the Hodder was as pleasant as always.

The path alongside Fielding Clough was much drier than usual and then we branched off into tussocky reedy ground and steadily made our way up Birkett Fell and into the trees on Kitcham Hill, 283m.

I had previously made a cairn of a few stones at the summit on my LONGRIDGE SKYLINE WALK, LSW and I was pleased to find them. We admired the view down to the Fylde and the twisted pine and beech trees around the summit.

Open ground gave easier walking to the plantations but this was deceptive as there has been much wind damage that has caused problems accessing the woods.  One of my markers for the LSW was visible on a fallen tree. We had fun getting through wire fencing on the edge of the plantation, this is not a public footpath but soon we were on one going through the woods but it was not much better because of the fallen trees.

I remember vaguely some diversions around Crimpton Farm from previous visits and think I wrote to the appropriate authority to complain. Today the farmer was digging ditches and was keen to bemoan all his problems to us. We escaped and walked through his ‘forbidden’ farmyard wondering how planning permission had been given for an incongruous porch on a Grade 2 listed building below the mullioned loom windows. There is more history to this property –  after the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton farm for safety and hence the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’.

The below picture shows Crimpton Farm with its unnecessarily long alternative route in red, we stuck to the ROW in blue.

 

We emerged using the existing ‘right of way’ onto the roller coaster of a road heading to Newton. Our views of the three peaks were obscured by low cloud. Lunch was taken in a farm yard with another encounter with an only mildly grumpy farmer.

Now on a FP what could go wrong – well we managed to lose it and spent half an hour staggering through reeds in difficult terrain. At the bottom of the field our correct path made an appearance and then disappeared again, however after we crossed the stream a better path headed towards the busy Birkett Farms. Before we reached them we came across a sheep who had pushed its head through a gate and become trapped by its horns. Some complex manoeuvres were needed to free it. In the same field was a large bull I was keen to avoid.

The day seemed to be ticking away by the time we joined the good lane to Knowlmere Manor with its many chimneys. Delightful countryside, made better in the sunnier pm, above the Hodder took us back to Dunsop Bridge where we had a final battle with vegetation.

I felt I had to treat Sir Hugh to a drink in the Puddleducks Cafe.

*****

THE BOWLAND MIDDLE KNOLL.

The Puddleducks cafe was just opening as we parked up in Dunsop Bridge so coffee was taken on their outside terrace. The plan today was to ascend Middle Knoll, a hill above Whitendale that neither JD or myself recollected visiting. On a recent walk here I was surprised to see how rocky the eastern slopes of Middle Knoll appeared and I was keen to investigate closer at hand a feature on the map marked Blue Scar.

After a gentle stroll up the waterboard access road we took the left fork leading to Brennand Farm but immediately branched off on a path through the heather on the slopes of Middle Knoll. As we gained height we herded a few cattle in front of us. At some point we mutually agreed to start the steep climb up pathless ground to the summit, for about 500ft we staggered laboriously upwards trying to to keep to the easiest ground. This was one of those convex hills where you never see the top, you just have to keep going. The summit at 395m was marked with a few stones. The best views were southwards towards the Fylde Plain.

We crossed a nearby wall and ate our lunches in its shelter. Descending we were soon on the top of Blue Scar a steep shaley feature, a few little rock buttresses stood out but it all appeared loose and dangerous.

Curiosity satisfied we descended to the col but failed to find the path coming up from Brennand and stumbled about in high bracken and reeds for some time. Heath Bedstraw was in profusion. Eventually we came steeply down to Whitendale Farm.  From down here Blue Scar was prominent. Those familiar Peak and Northern Footpath Society signs pointed in several directions, we chose the pleasant path leading down above Whitendale River to the luxuriant Costy Clough.

After that we rejoined the outward route on the road alongside the River Dunsop. We thought that the beech trees down the valley had an unusually rich crop of nuts on display this year.

Feeling weary from the heat and the steep trackless terrain on Middle Fell we were glad of a pot of tea at the cafe.

*****

A SUNDAY MORNING STROLL.

I can’t say much new about Longridge Fell.

Over coffee I was plotting a route from Brock Bottoms when the phone rang. it was Dave asking if I fancied a walk on Longridge Fell. I couldn’t say no. I’ll put the river walk on hold.

I’ve not seen much of Dave since my PMR episode put rock climbing on hold, and anyway he is abroad most of the time. A quick turn around and we met up at Cardwell House car park at 10am.  He was not familiar with this western end of the fell so I had hoped to give him a good tour. We caught up on our recent relevant excursions. He has just had a successful three week’s climbing trip to the south of France, I’ve mainly been at the doctors. As I waited at the car park I tried out the panoramic mode on my camera with the Bowland Fells over Chipping Vale.

He seemed to be enjoying the route I took trough the forest until we hit an area of tree felling across the track, the next 200m was tedious to say the least. He likened it to anti tank defence terrain from the 2nd WW.

We eventually emerged onto a familiar track up towards the summit but a blocked path forced us onto another rough section.

The views from the trigpoint were exceptional but we didn’t linger as we had already taken much longer than anticipated.

The way back to the car traversed the fell overlooking the Vale of Chipping again on a track he had never used.

It was good to catch up.

*****

The weather was so good that I decamped to Craig Y Longridge on the way home for a bit of bouldering and more catching up with friends who were there, it was busy.Just across the road on a small reservoir a pair of great crested grebes have set up home in reeds within sight of the road. The female is sitting on three eggs so far and the male fussing around extending the nest.

DUNSOP VALLEY AND BURN FELL, ANOTHER BOWLAND TOP.

Burn Fell seen on the approach along the Hodder Valley to Dunsop Bridge.

On the 2nd of January 1945, just before I was born, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an American heavy bomber crashed on Burn Fell. The aircraft was being ferried from Seething in Norfolk to Warton near Preston, most of the passengers were a second aircrew who were going to fly another aircraft back to Seething. The crew had become disorientated in low cloud and snow showers, they obtained a radio fix on Warton and the pilot turned onto the appropriate heading to get to Warton and while flying at just 1500ft the aircraft flew into the top of Burn Fell, slewed round demolishing a stone wall and bursting into flames. Most of the aircraft was reduced to ashes, fortunately of the 19 aircrew onboard 15 of them survived the crash and subsequent fire. People from farms below the crash site came to rescue the surviors from the snowy hillside with makeshift stretchers and human strength.

I  passed the site of this disaster on today’s walk in Bowland.

A bright sunny morning and I was parked up in Dunsop Bridge before most people had stirred. The walk up into the Dunsop Valley is familiar and the water board road gives access to both the Brennand and Whitendale valleys, with the hill of Middle Knoll [not to be confused with nearby Mellor Knoll] between them. Where the roads split there is a small footbridge across the river which takes you onto a track up into Whitendale above the water.

Middle Knoll.

At Costy Clough the track gives way to a narrow path, This is delightful walking with the hills beckoning ahead whilst the water tumbles below. The farm at Whitendale comes into view, part of the royal Dutchy Estate. By now I was in fairly remote hill country and using trods through the heather, A sign post erected by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society showed my options just above Whitendale Farm. I’ve never quiet known who they are. From this area I had a view to the southern face of Middle Knoll and was surprised to see how steep and rocky it looked.The lambs around here looked almost new born, very unsteady on their legs. A zig zagging track started to climb out of the valley onto Dunsop Fell, mainly to visit some shooting butts, but it gave me an easy way up to the watershed especially as the peat was less squelchy than usual. Suddenly there were people ahead of me, I caught them up at the top as they took in the views. A family group from Wigan who seemed to know the area well. Oh and here is another one of those signs.Where the three went down I contoured and found a path of sorts leading to the trig point on Burn Fell, 431m. Over to the east were the Three Peaks, Yorkshire’s finest. Below was Stocks Reservioir, Waddington Fell with its mast and behind that the big end of Pendle. I followed the wall past the trig with Totridge Fell ahead and the Hodder Valley stretching out towards Longridge Fell, these Bowland Fells group themselves closely together, I could clearly see the line of my Longridge Skyline Walk coming off Totridge Fell, over Mellor Knoll down to the Hodder. over Birkett Fell to Waddington Fell before dropping down to recross the Hodder and finish over Longridge Fell.

Over to Yorkshire with Stocks Reservoir.

A few 100 m past the summit I came across the remains of the B-24, bits of molten metal and glass. A cross has been erected and there is a stone memorial to the four airmen who lost their lives.

A track of sorts through the boggy heather slowly brought me off the fell and down a grassy rake towards Beatrix Farm. It was here that I started to encounter boxes/tunnels designed to trap stoats etc. as I neared pheasant breading copses. Inside each box was a strong spingloaded trap. I’m not sure of the legality of these traps as any prey would suffer a horrible death. The remains of a ?rabbit in one showed that they are not regularly checked. It was surprisingly how vicious they were when a stone was accidentally dropped onto a trap, or even several, or as many as I could find. Mea culpra.

A lane down into Dunsop Bridge gave easy walking after the rough stuff on the fells. Bluebell woods welcomed me into the hamlet at the centre of the Isles. Cups of tea at the cafe beckoned before my drive home. Today I had seen or heard wagtails, skylarks, oyster catchers, cuckoos, curlews, buzzards and whilst getting into the car a dipper on the stream below.*****

 

 

 

 

 

WHIN FELL – ANOTHER BOWLAND CIRCUIT.

Sorry about the photos.

Set off today after lunch and parked at Smelt Mill in the Trough of Bowland, this is the headquarters of the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue  team.

Smelt Mill with Mellor Knoll behind.

On the 1:25,000 map I noticed a track leaving the road and zigzagging up  Staple Oak Fell. I found it and was able to follow it through rough ground to a fence just below the 415m summit. I hopped across the fence and went to the highest point, I’m not sure why. It was all much of a sameness. Views kept opening up in all directions and I took loads of photos of the surrounding Bowland Fells. I then simply followed the fence to meet up with the bridleway from the Trough over to Brennand. In the past this was a regular mountain bike route for me taking the thrill a minute ride down Ouster Rake to the Duchy’s farm deep in the Brennand valley. I couldn’t resist a slight diversion today to view that descent, it did look dramatic.

Returning to the col I decided to follow another fence up to the trig point of Whins Brow 478m on Whin Fell. There were some boggy peat haggs to negotiate before the summit. Views to Morecambe Bay, the three Yorkshire Peaks, Pendle, Longridge Fell and the nearer Bowland Fells above Hareden and Langden Valley where I was tramping a few days ago. Splendid.

The Trough of Bowland with Totridge Fell prominent.

I took a beeline off the summit down steep grassy slopes into Rams Clough to meet up with that bridleway coming down from Whin Fell. A winding lane followed the valley down to the Trough Road near a barn. As I walked down the road I recognised a gate leading to the Trough of Bowland Quarry, an esoteric climbing venue I’d not visited for 20 years. The cliff looked remarkably clean and very steep. I recognised some of the lines taking ramps across the face to an unfortunate loose top. I even spied an old peg! I wondered if it was still in the Lancashire Climbing guidebook, yes it is though I doubt many people climb here anymore shame really as it has a lovely situation for a summer’s evening in peace and solitude. It was whilst I was in the quarry that my camera started flashing “memory card damaged” – how could it be. But no it refused to take any more photos and more annoyingly will not download any of today’s pictures.  This cheap camera, a Praktica L212, has always had a problem with the memory card losing the occasional pictures. Wilkinson’s Cameras, Preston, have failed to resolve the problem and I will be down there tomorrow with the latest complaint. Annoyed at loosing some fantastic views today. Took some pics with my phone but even those are poor, not my day.

Trough of Bowland Quarry…

…and nearby lime kiln.

Wandered down the road past Sykes Farm and then the Langden parking spot as the tea van was packing up. Soon back at Smelt Mill.

Sykes Farm.

Trough tea van.                                                                                                                  

PS. The memory card was unreadable but Wilkinson’s gave me a replacement free despite well out of guarantee. Local shop 1 Internet 0.

So my camera back in action but those photos lost forever – a good excuse to repeat what was an outstanding walk.

*****