Tag Archives: Bowland

AN ICY ELMRIDGE.

Friday 15th January.     6.75 miles.    Longridge.

 At the risk of becoming repetitive…

Again I set off from home on familiar paths to Gill Bridge where I skated up the icy road before I took the path along Elmridge. Elmridge is a small eminence in the Vale of Chipping between the Bleasdale Fells and Longridge Fell, its position giving  it good views of the area. These views are better on the road across the top rather than on my footpath along the southern side, but I’d not walked this way for several years. A friend has moved into a little house along here, so I was able to have a few words in passing. The family have adopted lots of stray kittens and have some fine fowl. The next farm along, again owned by a friend who has recently died is surrounded by woodlands that he planted over the years, a fitting memorial.

It wasn’t the clearest of days but Longridge Fell was always there.

In Hesketh Lane I passed the site of an old mill now strangely used as a depot for a local coach firm. The mill stream is clearly visible and a notice tells of recently installed fish ladders to allow fish and eels access higher up the stream. The Dog and Partridge is sadly closed, like several other old inns of the area. Notice the cheese press stone, a common sight in this area of Lancashire. I took the curiously named Judd Holmes Lane through frozen fields leading me back to the Knott Farm where I was the other day.. This time I made the detour to visit the little church at Lee House.  Be sure to have a look at – https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Chipping/stwilliam/index.html for some interesting history.

I then joined the crowds walking along the pavements to Longridge. We should all be a lot fitter after this pandemic is over.

                                                                                     Bleasdale Fells.

*****

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

SOME WHITECHAPEL LANES.

Saturday 2nd January. 2021.               5 miles.                 Whitechapel.

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’

Two girls climbed out of this last night!

Lucky.

Snowy weather.

Crombleholme Fold.

Eccles Moss Farm.

*****

SOME CHIPPING LANES.

Wednesday 30th December.       6.5miles.       Chipping.

The days over Xmas have been all of a sameness, and now we are heading into a new year. Getting out in the good weather has helped the old year drift away. Mike is back from his family Christmas in Leeds, so we meet up in Chipping. I park next to the Village Memorial Hall which Mike designed way back in 1999, it is still looking good. We set off along past the Congregational Chapel and Club Row cottages.  If you have a spare hour or so for a walk around Chipping Village and need some history have a look at  http://www.chippinghistory.co.uk/page4.html

The lanes are virtually traffic free, and we have views across the misty valley to a wintry Pendle and Longridge Fell [header photo].  Passing a few scattered farms we start climbing towards the hills.

Chipping Village Hall.

All of a sudden a silent glider flashes above  us coming in low to land in the field alongside. This is Chipping Gliding Club. Their gliders are often seen above the Bleasdale ridges. Around the corner the lanes were clogged with the parked cars of the masses climbing Parlick perhaps for some sledging for the children.

We carried on uphill before plunging down an icy stretch to the buildings of  Wolfen Mill, a former water powered mill making spindles and bobbins for local mills. Up again, and we are on the remote road to Saddle Fell and beyond, classical Bowland scenery. Our roller coaster continued by Birchen Lee and Chipping Lawn sheep farm into the parkland of Leagram before the narrow streets of Chipping. What a splendid little walk ending with another of those late December skies.

*****

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow.  I’m now  able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.

Thornley Horse Trough.

Wheatley Farm. 1774.

People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.

Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.

*****

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

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.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

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.

*****

A SHORT BREAK IN THE WEATHER.

Saturday  12th December.    4miles.    Beacon Fell.

  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.

Last checkpoint.

Would this help?

Grade II Listed Fell Side.  [Rebuilt].

1709.

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.

*****

CALDER VALE FROM BLEASDALE.

Thursday  10th December.      6.5 miles.          Calder Vale.

 

My last visit to Calder Vale was in February just before the lockdowns commenced. Almost a whole year gone when I have been restricted by one Covid measure or another, its grim up North. That day I walked through the yard of Cobble Hey who run a popular farm café,  they were due to open the next day for the season. Speaking to a girl there today they have  been barely able to function at all, the customers just disappeared.  She was hoping for better things next year.

The route I had planned for today had me approaching the Calder from above using paths untravelled. I parked at the summit of Stang Yule, the road linking my area to Dolphinholme across the edge of the Bleasdale Hills. All was grey all around me. The distant Fylde Coast a blur and the surrounding fell tops uninviting.

At the first farm I came to, Rough Moor, a couple were planting a new hawthorn hedge, well over 600 plants, I admired their enthusiasm and the renovated farm and barns will become desirable country living advertised in Lancashire Life. At least they had provided good stiles and waymarking around the property. As you walk down the hillside there is no clue that below is the once thriving mill village. I passed a few more smart houses before walking through the grounds of St. John’s Church and adjoining school. The church and school were built in this rather isolated position as they served both the Calder Vale and Oakenclough communities. A path leads down through the woods into Calder Vale, I wonder how many children still walk this way to school each day.

There is plenty to see in the village which always seems busy because of the working mill in the centre, There are remnants of the water power from the Calder, workers’ cottages, Methodist Chapel, manager’s house and the large Lappet Mill itself. The post office and village shop have closed and there is no sign of the Temperance Hotel. I left your Christmas presents under the tree.

I departed the village by a stile and age-old stone steps onto a lane linking to farms on the fell above. They all had a sad and unkempt look about them on this grey day.

Lots of wet fields led me to Cobble Hey which as I said was deserted and I certainly didn’t expect to meet this Juggernaut on a narrow farm lane.

The paths through the next few fields were untrodden even this year when the world and his dog have been out exercising. My legs became more and more splattered with mud and I don’t know what else. On reaching Delph Lane I could have easily walked up it to my car but something made me obstinately carry on with my planned route. The footpath was sensibly diverted around the next  farm, High Moor, but I was apprehensive as I approached Broadgate, a typical sprawling shambles of a farm – more industrial than agricultural. My GPS proved essential to navigate through. The continuing lane was a  mess from timber extraction.

I knew the next field to be muddier than most from a visit a few years back with my old mate Mel, sadly deceased this year. We had set off on a simple walk in trainers on the estate roads around Bleasdale when I suddenly spotted a footpath leaving the dry lanes across this very field. I cannot repeat his comments as we slowly sank into the almost knee-high mud but kept going nonetheless and laughed about later in the pub. That’s what friends are for. Today I was heading in the opposite direction towards the big house, Bleasdale Tower which looks austere at the best of times – I often imagine a face at that upper window, Rochester and Jane Eyre below. Today I just get the face of a friendly sheep in the paddock below.

I’ve touched on the interesting history of the Bleasdale Estate in previous posts.

Today as the afternoon wore on I had an easy walk back up the estate road to my car at the high spot. It was still grey all around but I’d perversely enjoyed the afternoon though I doubt few others would have.

*****

I’ve just come back from the supermarket where outside a class of junior children were singing carols. I was emotional today, and they brought tears to my eyes which is always difficult when wearing a mask.

*****

 

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

THE FYLDE AROUND GREAT ECCLESTON.

Wednesday 2nd December.  6.5 miles.  Great Eccleston.

Great Eccleston is a village in the Fylde, that often gloomy and flat area of Lancashire not known for its walking. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has ancestry. It is known locally for its traditional shops, good pubs, a weekly market and its annual agricultural show which incorporates tractor pulling competitions, a niche motor sport. I parked up at noon on a sunny day, one needs the bright sun on these featureless landscapes. There was a bit of a market in the main street. I noticed one of the pubs has closed. There is an old pinfold down the street.

I left by Leckonby House, named after a wealthy local who bankrupted himself and ended up In Lancaster Prison. There was a C18th dovecote strangely isolated in the next field.

The St. Annes church at Copp was a prominent landmark up the road. It was established here in 1723 halfway between Gt. Eccleston and Elswick as a chapel of ease for St. Michaels. Nearby is a local primary school and opposite the old schoolhouse. It seems odd that the school is so isolated but I suppose it followed the church originally.

Elswick down the road is another small village on the road to Blackpool famous for its ice cream parlour. Also tucked next to the United Reformed church is an old chapel with a date stone of 1671 when this area was a centre for Nonconformity. The chapel is rather plain and has a house built onto it, it is now used as a hall for the adjacent church.

It was time to take to the boggy fields just as a hail storm blew through giving rainbows over the distant Bowland Fells.

Another stretch of lanes led towards drainage and flood defences. Here I got tangled up in barbed wire fences obstructing the right of way, later contacting the local authority they already knew of the problem. Surely the fencing contractors should be made aware of the need for stiles in the appropriate places. At last, I was on the embankment and following the Wyre downstream, a popular route for dog walkers. Walking around the loop was fast and easy which was needed as the sun was beginning to set. I had time to look at the Cartford toll bridge and the adjacent pub which has been modernised since I used to drink here 40 years ago. More rainbows appeared with the passing showers.

Being back here reminded me of a rather disastrous day walking the start of the Wyre Way.

The lights were on when I arrived back in Great Eccleston’s marketplace.

*****

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****

 

THE LOWER RIVER BROCK.

Friday 27th November.  7 miles.  Inglewhite.

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.

 

*****

AROUND MIDDLE KNOLL.

                                                                                  MIDDLE KNOLL.

Thursday  26th November.    7.75 miles.     Dunsop Bridge.

I thought I would incorporate some  possible fish jumping into today’s walk, as I had failed on the Hodder awhile back, so I chose to walk up the waterboard road from Dunsop Bridge. First problem was the road through Whitewell was closed diverting me over via Cow Ark and backtracking  from Newton. I was still early enough to get a free parking place. The mist was just rising as I started up the valley. This is a familiar track for me but I always enjoy the view up the valley with Middle Knoll centrestage, even though today he was slow to appear… I stopped at the fish ladders on the River Dunsop just below where the Brennand and Whitendale converge. No luck, no fish, so I carried on thinking I could spend more time later in the day. You are soon into the Brennand Valley with the farm down below and views into deepest Bowland. It is awhile since I’ve been on this lower track, last time I was here with JD we did a direct ascent up Middle Knoll to satisfy my curiosity of Blue Scar, which proved disappointing.

The Brennand Valley.

Looking back into Brennand.

My route up to the col between the two valleys was as wet as usual. Views back to Brennand Fells were replaced with a bird’s eye views down to Whitendale Farm. It was a steep descent.

Looking back into Brennand.

Wet going.

Whitendale Farm.

Looking back at the steep descent into Whitendale.

This is Duchy of Lancaster land owned by the Queen and yet United Utilities [NW water] seem to manage much of the land as a water catchment area. My way back down the Dunsop valley in fact follows a pipeline taking water to Blackburn. It is a good level track overlooking the valley and I make good progress. In the past I have cycled up the water board road and hidden my bike hereabouts before taking to foot up the rough Whitendale valley, a good tip for exploring deep into Bowland. Today I rest awhile at the river intakes where concrete steps control the waters. Still no sign of fish but it is always good to see the rural postie driving by.

The pipe.

Costy Clough.

Wot? No fish.

The sun comes back out and gives lovely low lighting in the valley. I’m soon back at the car and a Covid takeaway coffee from Puddleducks Café.  It looks like I’ve missed out on the fish going upstream this year but I’ve earmarked several possibilities for next season.

Did some of those pictures remind you of Scotland?

*****

 

GOING HIGH[ish] – FAIRSNAPE.

Sunday  22nd November.  7.5miles.   Fairsnape, Chipping.

A chance comment from Sir Hugh last week – “glad to see you going high, or highish” when I hadn’t really, up above the Hodder. Time to put things right with the highest fell close to me in Bowland, at 520 m, Fairsnape.  [Pendle Hill I climbed a few weeks ago is 557 m, Sir Hugh must have missed that one, but is now out of my self-imposed lockdown driving limit]

I pull in at a little parking spot on that lonely road heading into the hills above Chipping. This  used to my fell running circuit, up Saddle Side over to Fairsnape and down over Parlick. I decide today to do it in the opposite direction, something new. I play with my camera in panorama mode trying to catch the scene, the result is the header photo.

Walking down the lane I drop into Wolfen Mill, now a group of holiday lets. The Chipping Brook which powered the mill here continues down past several abandoned watermills above Chipping.

Chipping Brook.

Wolfen Mill pond.

As I follow the estate road a rainbow develops over the fells, more fiddling with my camera.

Wolfen Hall, now bypassed by the right of way, was once the old Manor House dating back from C13th. In those days it was said to be a lookout post for marauding wolves! It has been comprehensively rebuilt and the adjacent kennels are a noisy reminder of its present hunting credentials.

I reach Fell Foot and meet the crowds coming up the lane, I estimate well over 60 cars parked down there. Typical lockdown weekend.

As the majority stagger straight up and down the front face of Parlick I take the contouring path round the side but do make the effort to complete the climb to the summit. Everyone is enjoying the day, even the children, and glad to chat.

Around the rim I pace myself along the well-used track. There is nobody sat on Nick’s Chair today, most don’t even notice it.

As I arrive at the 510 m summit I’m trying to get a photo of the scene when along the ridge come three friends. We compare our routes and then pass on, they down with the crowds and I across the peat hags to reach the true summit.

Paddy’s Pole, shelter and trig point.

Visibility is good for this dodgy stretch where you can flounder into serious bog if not careful. I was the only one at the cairn but a man appeared from the delights of Fiensdale looking rather bedraggled.

The true 520 m summit.

On I went using the decent track eastwards and bump straight into Pete, a photographer friend who is compiling a new book on Bowland. He is laden down with long lensed expensive cameras and hasn’t come far. More catching up in these strange days when you don’t see your friends for months.

There are some well-used tracks down Saddle Fell, probably old sledge ways for gathering peat. I stray to look across at Burnslack Fell and down to the remote Burnslack ‘farmsteads’, this gives me the idea to extend my walk around the fell to visit this isolated spot.

Burnslack Fell.

Burnslack farms.

Burnslack Valley.

Burnslack Farm.

Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.

As I wander back up the lane to my car hail showers blow in – winter’s coming.

*****

THE INFANT HODDER.

Thursday 19th November.  5miles.    Cross of Greet Bridge.

I remember walking The Hodder Way 15 years ago to check the route description for an upcoming guide. We started on the watershed high on that lonely road from Slaidburn to Bentham. Next to the road is the base of the medieval Cross of Greet.  A large irregular block of sandstone with a flat top having a rectangular socket, once marking the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. This road is a favourite with cyclists continuing over Tatham Fell and perhaps making the return over Clapham Common and Bowland Knotts. This morning the whole area looked appealing in the sunshine.

From up here the Hodder starts its journey and snakes down the valley.

Back at the Cross of Greet Bridge I parked up, the Hodder is already in full flow.  The bridge is strictly utilitarian. The path alongside the river was underwater, so I headed for higher ground. Rough going was to be expected and the side streams became more and more difficult to cross. I had nagging doubts about whether it was wise to set off when there was so much water about. Everywhere was awash. I was pleased to arrive at the ford over Kearsden Beck dry footed, thanks to my new boots, but the water here was too deep and fast flowing, so I scouted upstream for another crossing finding one without too much difficulty and hopped across.

Spot the barn.

Un-fordable ford.

A hop across.

Now back on dry land I was climbing uphill above Catlow farm to a solitary barn on the skyline, seen in one of the photos above.

Remote Catlow Farm.

Sinkhole marked on the map.

 

That barn.

Old cart.

Pendle portrait.

Bowland Knotts were beyond if I’d fancied an even rougher pathless walk but I decided to traverse the hillside towards New House barn with Stocks Reservoir and Pendle ahead. I was now on the upper half of the Stocks Reservoir walk which I knew well. Up here above the Hodder I can see across the valley to Lamb Hill where I’m heading. Steeply down to the footbridge over the Hodder where I remember stepping stones, they would have been underwater today. The ruined farm of Collyholme is barely recognisable.

New House Barn.

Lamb Hill across the valley.

Collyholme.

 

The steep pull up to the road has been paved in places which was a help in these boggy conditions. I could have just walked back along the road but there is a footpath marked going up to Lamb Hill farm which I followed.  The farm has massive modern barns making the house virtually invisible.

Lamb Hill Farm.

Across the valley Bowland Knotts filled the scene. A footpath of sorts weaved through and on down the sodden fields. I came out onto the road just above the bridge but wanted to investigate some riverside sheep pens I’d noticed earlier. Climbing over a fence and going through dead bracken gave me a bird’s eye view of the extensive walled folds. These must have been used in the past when bringing the sheep off the fells and sorting them, I doubt they are in present use. The world has moved on even up here.

The road over the fells.

A short day but what a beautiful remote area.

*****

PONIES ON THE FELL.

Tuesday.  November 17th.  5 miles.  Longridge Fell.

What a gift for my ‘a new experience every walk during this lockdown’. Fell ponies welcomed Rod and I to the summit of Longridge Fell. I’ve never seen them up there before and I have no idea where they come from. Three healthy looking, sleek, black ponies. They were used to human presence and searched our pockets for food. It is not a good idea to feed ponies as I believe  they can become ill quickly.

We had arranged to meet on the fell road as we hadn’t seen each other for 6months. A little inventiveness had to be used to get parked amongst all the other lockdown ramblers. I warned Rod in advance to wear boots as everywhere off track is decidedly gloopy. Certainly on the last quarter of a mile from where we had left the forest road it was difficult to stay on solid ground.

The sun shone a little into the Vale of Chipping below us and the Bowland Hills looked – well just like they always look, majestic, if a little hazy. I steered a way through the woods along the ridge avoiding the worst of the mud and the fallen trees. We then made our way back on the solid ground of the main track and caught up with each other’s news, restricted as it is. Home in time for a late lunch before it rained. See you after Christmas Rod? Strange times.

*****

A HISTORY LESSON IN WYRESDALE.

National Library of Scotland.

Monday,   November 16th.    9miles.       Scorton/Dolphinholme.

The river Wyre takes a sinuous route between Scorton and Dolphinholme and you can see from the map many fishing lakes along the way. Years ago it would have been a different scene with leats, millraces, serving the numerous mills in the valley. My ‘guides’ for today live in the area and know an awful lot of relevant history. The last walk with Peter and Denise was a couple of winters ago when we followed and traced the Lancaster Canal from Preston to Kendal.

After driving 14 miles, within my 15mile limit, I meet up as the one other socially distanced person. We are all following the rules now, even Boris has to. Off we go along lanes close to the motorway passing the farm of a close friend, sadly departed 5 years ago, where my family of cats originated from. It is eerily deserted today.

My cats’ homeland.

We pick up the Wyre Way which seems to have changed since I walked it a few years ago. The footbridge over the motorway has been dismantled, apparently the path goes under now. The caravan site we walk through has expanded dramatically but of course nobody is allowed to stay at present. The big attraction is  the fishing lakes established from old gravel pits, stocked with carp, pike, bream, tench, roach and perch. They don’t have a sympathetic feel for a path. A better stretch alongside the Wyre brought us to a bridge that used to lead to Wyreside Hall. Further along is the old Coreless water mill with its restored wheel.

We come out into Lower Dolphinholme. Peter points out the old mill warehouse, now apartments. The road down to the bridge used to come to a ford and when it was built up the doors to the cottages became smaller and smaller. The mill manager’s and mill owner’s houses are prominent and there is a redundant gaslight on the corner. The large mill here was originally for worsted manufacture and was one of the first mills to have its own gas works to light the mill and village.  Apparently behind the private walls is evidence of the gas containers. Peter knew all about this but for you a good history is really worth consulting – https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1466557

 

 

Diminishing doors.

Mill owner’s House.

 

As we leave the village I’m taken on a slight detour to visit the flue and chimney up the hill. It was built as a dual structure one for the gas and one for the steam from the updated mill.

We were going up  Waggoners Lane an obvious reference to the mill’s transport and then into Tinkers Lane, another reference to the past. This led past Belvidere House with its unusual hexagonal attached tower. Up here we were on the edge of the Bowland Hills and sheep were the only animals in the fields, subsistence farming. We came to a crossroads at Street where the Roman Road from Ribchester to Galgate was supposed to have run.

Now back onto paths alongside becks and fishing lakes. We saw a roe deer pirouette across a stream and vanish into the woods. It was muddy going. We skirted the grounds of Wyreside Hall, a large C18 pile which seems to be undergoing renovations/extensions – maybe a hotel or wedding venue? The local couple we met leading a thoroughbred racing horse didn’t know what was afoot.

The grounds of a farm and barn complex felt unwelcoming – high walls and vicious barking dogs. Coming out onto a road we parted company with Denise who took the direct route home to hopefully put the kettle on., I wanted to go through the grounds of Wyresdale Park which I had noted on my recent visit to Nicky Nook and Peter was all too ready to give me some more history. The hall was the work of  Lancaster architect Paley in the mid C19, better known for his churches, in a Gothic Revival design and over the years has been adapted to its present state as a recreational facility. Cafés, craft centres, camping pods, weddings, playgrounds and fishing are all on offer or at least they normally would be. I couldn’t see the hall but know where to drive through in future for a peep.

Wyresdale Park’s photo.

We strolled through Scorton with its iconic motorway spire. There once was a large cotton mill here, and we could see the line of the millrace now in a modern development. It was easier to walk along the road for a while rather than the soggy fields. I was then shown the lodges for the mill at Cleveley Bridge. We then followed the line of another mill race coming from the Wyre some distance away. Apparently in the early years of the C20 there used to be a series of commercial fisheries along here with water siphoned off the mill race. I had no idea where I was but soon we were climbing up to Shireshead, past the little chapel, now a recording studio, and along the lane for that cup of tea.

 

*****

FAMILY DURING LOCKDOWN.

Friday.  November 13th.  5.5 miles.  Bleasdale.

Just spotted it, this is Friday the 13th, survived again.

As you may know I’m trying to get something new from each of my lockdown walks. When I say ‘new’ I’m encompassing new perspectives, new experiences and hopefully new encounters with nature or whatever.

I haven’t seen Chris, one of my sons, for about three months so that is something new for today. He is a baker and social distancing is not the best but his firm have had no cases, yet. There is talk amongst some of his workmates with friends who have tested positive but nobody has volunteered to self Isolate. I imagine that is quite a problem generally with people not wanting to lose their wages.  As he works night shifts there are not many afternoons when he is up, but today we arrange to meet in Bleasdale, a short distance drive for us both, well within the ‘rules’.

Social distancing is the order of the day. Since the last time I saw him he has grown a beard, fortunately I knew of that from telephone conversations otherwise it would have been a shock. Strangely half the hair growth is white, so he has gone grey without knowing it. We do the usual walk except the muddy bits. He thinks it is 20 years since he was last up here.

Here are a few photos from our walk.

The postman cometh.

The school master’s house now a desirable country residence.

One of those abhorrent vermin traps but open to any creature. Should be made illegal.

Is this Rhododendron flowering late or early?

Ever the gentleman.

 

Beacon Fell and a hazy Preston.

Pointing to Parlick

That wonderful beech hedge.

The River Brock on its way.

 

The afternoon is pleasantly sunny, and we enjoy the catch up. Not sure when we will do it again.

My other son and family are in Manchester and have decided they will keep well clear of me for the time being which I appreciate.

*****

ANOTHER SIDE TO STOCKS.

Thursday 12th November.  6.5 miles.  Slaidburn.

My vitamin D is topped up as I’ve been in sunshine most of the day, a bonus for November and I made sure I got away a little earlier so that I would finish before dark. During the current lockdown I have imposed upon myself a maximum distance of 15 miles [30 minutes] car travel for the purpose of subsequent exercise, I hope that is reasonable particularly into the sparsely populated countryside north and east of me. Today I travelled a shade over 13 miles to Slaidburn. I had been expecting to park outside the village because it has been so popular recently but on arrival the car park was virtually empty. I’d joined some of those red dashed lines on the map to give a circuit to the east of Stocks Reservoir I hadn’t walked before.

Yesterday was Armistice Day and the memorial was appropriately decorated.

From the old bridge over Croasdale Brook I headed out towards Hammerton Hall.

An incident happened here many years ago but is still fresh in my memory. Alan and I were returning from a circuit of Stocks Reservoir and chatting away, arrived at the ford leading straight to a farm in the village. Without consulting the map we just waded through maybe a foot of water knowing we had dry gear in the car. The farmer was leaning on his gate watching us but said nothing until we were well through. A voice then boomed out “you can’t come this way, it’s not the path. It’s on the other side”  Sure enough we should have stayed on the far bank down to the bridge. He showed no compassion so back we trudged through the river certain we could hear faint chuckling.

Over an even older and graceful Holmehead Bridge, past the falls on Barn Gill.

And there was Hammerton Hall on a prominent position above the River Hodder.  It is a large three-gabled Elizabeth house [1600] standing on the site of a 12th century house and incorporating parts of it. Its south facade gives a fine display of mullioned windows. Once the home of the  Hamerton family, a wealthy medieval family who are reputed to have been able to ride from Slaidburn to York (approx. 50 miles) on their own land!
Unfortunately, they lost most of their wealth and power when Sir Stephen de Hamerton joined Abbot Paslew of Whalley in the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536. This was a protest against Henry VIII’s proposed dissolution of the monasteries. Sir Stephen was executed for treason in 1537.

My arrival at the next farm, Black House, coincided with a window cleaner, for some reason I found it incongruous that he would be out in such a remote spot. We exchanged pleasantries, he was from Colne and had a large rural area to cover. Farmers down country lanes are vulnerable to theft, and he has taken years to build up their confidence. He went on to talk about churches that he works on, for free, again I never really considered the cleaning of all that stained-glass. I walked on whistling George Formby’s favourite – ‘When I’m cleaning windows’

Along the elevated farm lane I had good views of Stocks Reservoir and Bowland Knotts behind although this wasn’t the purpose of the day.

At the end of the farm lane I came out onto tarmac opposite the small Dalehead Chapel. When the reservoir was constructed back in the 30s Stocks-in-Bowland village was engulfed, On the lake bed are remains of cottages, shops, an inn and a school but the church of St. James was dismantled and rebuilt here above the waters on the edge of Gisburn Forest. I sat on the church steps enjoying the sun.

It was easy to walk past my turn off into the forest, so I had to double back along the road to find it. I plunged into the woods for a short distance but then followed a farm track past a barn down to another isolated farm Brook House Green. The usual collection of huts and rubbish surrounded an interesting house with a date stone of 1761.

 

I always meant to put the engine back in…

I’ll gloss over the next half mile of pathless, reedy and boggy ground to arrive at Higher Stony Bank, another 17th century house. Along the road a man was exercising his large Irish Wolfhound on his own rough plantation. He, not the dog, was eager to chat about how he had bought the land and was planting it up with wild flowers and trees. “Best view in Bowland“…

Asking where I was from and where I was going he also said he had bought Pikefield Plantation, my next destination. This is a  group of trees on a prominent hill in the heart of this countryside. His parents ashes were up there and as his mother had been an archaeologist he had constructed a tumulus. What will future historians make of that? I often do wonder about people who leave litter in the countryside but this had me baffled…

The way back to Slaidburn was complicated through small fields with awkward stiles and poor waymarking. I battled on. Slaidburn remained hidden in the folds of the hills until the last moments.

How much can you get from a 6-mile walk?

*****

RADHOLME and BROWSHOLME.

Tuesday,  10th November.   6.5 miles.  Browsholme.

My road to Whitewell was closed, so I hurriedly chose another route. I was on the way to complete another interesting looking walk from my bumper book of Bowland Walks by Jack Keighley. I found a different parking spot on the circuit which also meant I avoided some unnecessary climbing in and out of Whitewell. There was no reason to include Whitewell as I’m already well acquainted with it. It was nearly 12noon when I set off across the fields where there are some limestone craglets  and an old limekiln. When my children were small we used to come here for a scramble about. The views of the Bowland hills are not so good today.

The first farm was Radholme Laund. I got chatting to the farmer in the yard, and he told me that at one time Matthew Brown breweries leased it and spread their brewing wastes on the land. Matthew Brown started in Preston in 1830 and moved to Blackburn in 1927. In 1984, they acquired Theakston but were eventually bought out in 1991 by Scottish and Newcastle. I well remember their Lyon Ales and many local pubs were tied to them. Radholme goes back to the Domesday Book and was originally a hunting lodge, Laund usually denotes a deer park.  A large area of Bowland was set aside for deer hunting until farming took over in the C16-17th. The present house was built in the C19th and has an impressive southern facade.

Boggy fields took me down past woods which had lost most of their leaves. Longridge Fell was always in the background. The cattle are now all in their winter quarters [the best place for them did I hear you say?] at Higher Lees Farm.  Then I was in and out of a stream before coming out onto the familiar road at Middle Lees. I crossed the course of the Roman Road and followed the farm lane to the cluster of houses at Lees House. I already knew the awkward path going steeply down to a hidden footbridge over Mill Brook and then steeply up the rough ground on the other side where I disturbed pheasants galore. Sheep pastures were climbed to the barking dogs of Micklehurst. I met the farmer who talked of  Covid-19 and the fate of local pubs. Most of these hill farmers must live an isolated life and yet are happy, nay keen to engage in topical conversations  I missed the path further on and ended up with more road walking than necessary. Until now the day had been bright but I seemed to enter low mist and drizzle and yet behind me Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley were in brightness.

I entered the drive of Browsholme Hall by its elaborate gatehouse but saw nothing of the Jacobean house still occupied by the Parker family who were the ancestral owners since 1507. Most of the land I’ve been walking on today at one time was part of their estate.  I’ve added a photo of the hall courtesy of visitlancashire.com As I made my way went up the fields Pendle came into view, I was heading towards the prominent Browsholme Spire. It is said that its castellated folly was built as a landmark for shooters on the nearby rough fells. It has been adorned with satellite communication dishes in recent years no doubt earning rent from telephone companies. A case of selling one’s soul. On a good day up here the Yorkshire fells are seen but today it was just the rather murky local Bowland Hills. At the bottom of the hill in the trees a sulphur spa is marked on the map, so I searched it out but was disappointed  to find only a boggy spring with the water only faintly tasting of sulphur.

Crossing over that Roman Road once more I took the lane to Crimpton with its seven hand loom upper windows. After the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton for safety. Hence, the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’. I found a seat for a snack looking out over Birkett Fell with Mellor Knoll and the Bowland Hills behind. I knew the next stretch through the forest was muddy and awkward but I couldn’t believe my eyes, most of the trees had been cut down and a machine was clearing up. The operator was able to grab a tree trunk in the machine’s claws, whizz it through stripping the branches and then cut it to length and place in a pile. Unbelievable – lift, strip, chop all in one go.

The day was getting on with all these distractions and I wanted to search out some caves in the limestone on the way back to my car. First was Hell Hole in a fenced off copse. There seemed to be two dangerous open deep shafts and a low cave entrance all connected to the same stream system.

Further on over more barbed wire was Whitewell Cave at the base of a rocky outcrop, a small stream disappeared underground leaving a dry cave entrance that would worth a crawl with a torch. There is another pothole down the road but that will have to wait for some other time.

By now it was almost dark, there was no sunset just a little light out to the coast, but I had only a short distance to go up the road.

Another shortish walk with plenty of new interest for me. I’ve just realised I never saw another walker – a perfect lockdown walk.

 

*****