Tag Archives: Bowland

CHIPPING HIGH LANES.

“You deserve a holiday!”  said the email from booking.com.

I’m being bombarded with adverts from holiday organisations desperate for me to spend money with them and fly off in the middle of this pandemic. I’m not fooled by Boris’s assurances of  “air bridges” to avoid quarantine, where is the medical evidence for that? And what may change whilst you are away? The only good outcome of his policy is that the crowds who inundated our beaches will be jumping on planes to take them to the ‘Costas’. They will find the Spanish police know how to administer crowd control with hefty fines and prison sentences.

Anyhow, would you want to sit on the beach with a mask on and then queue for an hour or so for your Sangria?

Homegrown firms [eg Booking.com Airbnb Tripadvisor] are also trying to tempt me away in Britain. I know hotels and B&B’s are in a desperate state but can you imagine how the experience of an otherwise pleasant country house hotel would be at present.

At least some of these firms are advising booking with a cancellation option but even that might not be straight forward, read the small print. Here is Booking.com’s special notice –  For bookings made from 6 April 2020, you should take into account the risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated government measures. If you don’t book a flexible rate, you may not be entitled to a refund. We advise you to closely follow any travel advice from your local government and health organisations, and we recommend booking a flexible rate with free cancellation, in case your travel plans need to change.

You’ve guessed it I won’t be going anywhere just yet. Probably not this year if the deadly virus is still about. Let’s wait and see, I’ve successfully shielded for nearly 4 months now so I’m sure I can continue. In answer to booking.com’s suggestion that “I need a holiday” – no I don’t, I’ve had one for the length of lockdown so far.

Maybe though I need a change of scenery. but they sensibly won’t let me into Scotland or Wales just yet. The next best thing this afternoon as the sun comes out is to drive 5 miles to Chipping, olde worlde and mentioned in the Domesday Book. I have a walking route planned around the quiet country lanes. I park near the Church of St. Bartholomew opposite The Sun Inn. This is where my story starts

Lizzie was a maid living in the Sun, in the year 1835. She met up with a local lad who claimed the deepest love for her and proposed to her, she gladly accepted, However, two days before the wedding, James told Lizzie he had fallen in love with her friend Elsie and called off their wedding day. He now planned to marry Elsie in the church opposite.

On the day of the wedding  Lizzie went up to the pub attic overlooking the churchyard, she wrote a suicide note, placed a rope around her neck, and died. The note in her fist read “I want to be buried at the entrance to the church so my lover and my best friend will always have to walk past my grave every time they go to church.”

Her grave is situated near the old entrance – 

But the story doesn’t end there. For almost 200 years the ghost of Lizzie has haunted the Sun Inn and the churchyard opposite. Just ask anyone in the village. There is an old yew tree near her grave which has one branch supported by an iron tripod.

Sorry, I became rather distracted there.

My walk leaves the village up the lane towards former water mills which helped Chipping thrive in the early industrial years. None is working now, Kirk Mill has been preserved but is looking rather forlorn. Originally a corn mill, then a cotton mill it ended its life as part of the Berry Chair Works. Its large crane was used to unload timber from the lorries. The cottages surrounding it were still used by workers when I moved into the area in the ’70s. It eventually closed its doors in 2010. Above the main building is the large mill lodge famous nowadays for its ducks.

The narrow lane continues steeply up the hillside passing the site of Tweedy’s Mill, a former foundry and previously a cotton mill. Now there is housing and Proctor’s Cheeses. At one time there were half a dozen water mills on this section of Chipping Brook.

Brief glimpses of the fells appear through the trees. Above Wolfen Mill, an old bobbin mill, I take the lane into the fells. I chase butterflies up the hill and buy some free-range eggs at the stall on Saddle Side farm track.

Red Admiral.

Today I’m not going further into the fells so I turn down a newly tarmacked route to Windy Hills Farm where there is a recent barn conversion, presumably they have paid for the road improvement. At the moment it looks out of place up here but it provides a warm bed for the lambs. Onwards on the familiar track to the extensive sheep rearing Laund Farm with views opening up to Waddington Fell, Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.  Laund was the ancient word for an open space for deer and I now walk down through it, admiring the mature trees and lush greenery, part of the Leagram Estate. A perfect evening.

Back in Chipping, I walk up to the Sun Inn where the story started.


*****

 

 

 

…IT’S EXERCISE AFTER ALL.

When I pulled my curtains open this morning at about 7am people were already taking their daily exercise. They were the wise ones as the forecast was for the hottest day of the year by this afternoon. I considered, indeed almost succumbed to a quick breakfast and away. But no my daily sloth had me back in bed with the first coffee of the morning. I seem to be getting through vast amounts of ground coffee, there is another delivery expected tomorrow morning.

A second coffee followed as I sorted through my emails etc. A friend living in France has been in severe lockdown but now because of their diligence is allowed out to live more or less normally. He sent me a recent picture of his 3-month scruffy beard.

My enthusiasm for exercise fluctuates with the day, At the weekend I did a couple of decent walks. Yesterday I could not even summon the effort to drive across to East Lancs to climb with my friends – I’m still not convinced about keeping to 2m social isolation on such escapades.

Today would have been lovely up on Parlick and Fairsnape but I haven’t yet got my head around the risk factors of high moorland walking. Last week a group of people I know, local fell runners, had a simple run up Beacon Fell which ended up with a helicopter rescue of one of them. I know I’m becoming paranoid. All the excitement and hullabaloo of opening shops and pubs passes me by. Note that the medical establishment, which the politicians are casting aside, have issued warnings of progressing out of lockdown too rapidly. So I’ll be keeping to my relative shielding and the 2 metres distancing for a few more weeks until I can see we may have turned a corner.

So where do I go today?

Yes, you have guessed it – Longridge Fell. I opt for a simple circuit around the lanes up and down from Longridge onto the western half of the fell.

My enthusiasm increases with every few hundred feet of climbing. I take a keen interest in the flora on the verges. There is virtually no traffic to disturb me. I watch butterflies flitting over the flowers and marvel at the dedication some photographers must have to produce even the simplest of shots. See https://beatingthebounds.wordpress.com/ for an idea of what can be achieved locally.

At the point where the road went left, I decided to carry on and pick up tracks leading to the trig point. By now I was walking freely and could have continued for miles to the east with no way of getting home. As I climbed higher the heather which a week ago was nondescript was beginning to flower. I suspect this summer with all the moisture and now the heat we should have a good display on the fells. There is nothing finer than a purple hillside. Oh and I noticed a few small bilberries beginning to appear – get out the pie-dish.

Ir was only when I was on the summit ridge that I met anybody. A man with two young girls who had been collecting sheep’s wool, the oldest, about 5, suggested her mother could make a sheep out of it which seemed perfectly reasonable. A young man looking for a different way off the fell, no he didn’t have a map. I sent him on his way with precise directions but I had doubts as to his navigational skills. A young couple, new to the area, taking selfies on the edge of the escarpment with Chipping Vale below and the Bowland Fells in the background.

Reaching the car park I was admiring a modern smart fourth-generation Mazda MX 5, [I have a 15-year-old Second Generation convertible.] It turned out to belong to the young couple so we had an extended conversation on a wide variety of topics before they sped off down to Chipping with the wind in their hair.

I was now on my homeward stretch down past the golf course with hazy Longridge ahead. I reached the little reservoir at the top of Longridge where I was on the lookout for grebes which often nest here. Some youngsters had climbed over the wall and were settling into a picnic above the water’s edge, all strictly private water board land. I jokingly admonished them for trespassing and said they didn’t want to be caught there when the water bailiff came around. I’d only walked about 50 yards when round the corner came the Waterboard van which stopped and gave a severe telling off to the youths who slinked away looking rather crestfallen.

By the time I reached home, it was far too hot to contemplate gardening.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be away with the larks.

*****

 

 

 

BEACON FELL BY THE BACK DOOR.

I knew Beacon Fell car parks would be full on a Saturday. I knew Brock Bottoms car parks would also be full. The Covid-19 crisis is bringing everybody out into the countryside, no doubt the coast as well. Shouldn’t we be encouraged by all these people exercising in the countryside? Well no – the amount of litter I saw today and the inconsiderate and illegal parking problems were distressing and that was on a walk when I tried to avoid the hot spots. I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the British public the longer this lockdown carries on. Selfish and ignorant people are certainly spoiling it for the rest of us. Rant over – almost.

Having said all that I’ve just enjoyed a lovely evening’s walk without meeting hardly a soul, although I came close.

For a change of scenery, I wanted to visit Beacon Fell. I often walk there and back from home on field paths in a round of 12 miles but today I only had a few hours to spare late in the day. Consulting the map I reckoned I could walk along the Brock River and climb up to the fell without encountering the crowds.

Having parked my car on a quiet lane about 5 miles drive from home I set off at 4pm. The lane dropped me down to the River Brock near the popular car park. There were cars parked all over on double yellow lines as an overflow from the official carpark. The noise from the throngs of people by the river was all-pervading. Picnics, barbecues and drinking was the name of the game, all crammed together on the riverside. I’ve never understood the idea of bringing all your urban trappings into the countryside, but maybe they don’t have gardens or parks at home.

My plan was to walk upstream on little paths by the river and in fields, I never met another person – what a contrast. The Brock was fairly low after the dry weather we have had. I saw a couple of Dippers but otherwise all the birds were anonymous, singing hidden in the trees. The path is good with duckboards over the boggy areas. A solitary cottage is passed well isolated from the virus. Onwards through woods just above the river. An old ford in the Brock is reached at the bottom of Snape Rake Lane, there is a footbridge alongside.  I can remember driving down here once many years ago,  fording the river awkwardly in my landrover to drive up the other side only to find the gate at the top locked. A quick turn around and retreat had me coming back through the difficult ford rather red-faced.  My reckless years. Today I was content to sit and look at the peaceful scene.

Climbing away from the river up the steep lane brought me into the woods high above the river.

I then followed quiet lanes up the northern side of Beacon Fell with improving views of the Bleasdale Hills. In the hedgerows tall Foxgloves, white Bramble flowers and wild Dog Roses were in profusion.

I knew a forest break that cut back right up the slopes of Beacon Fell. After the natural woods alongside the Brock, this appeared sterile and eerily silent.

At the top was the friendly old crocodile carving studded with coins.

I was soon at the trig point without meeting anybody.

Although on the way down towards the car park and cafe people were wandering about. it was here that I started coming across blatant littering less than 100m from bins. Obviously, the culprits expect someone else to come along later and clear it all up. The cafe and toilets remain closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

My way off the fell was through the Memorial Forest where you can purchase a plot and a tree as your fitting memory. Another memorial was a field of native trees donated by a former Countryside Ranger, a simple inscribed stone commemorated the gift.

Buzzards were flying above on the evening thermals.

A previously coppiced beech wood was traversed out onto the lane where my car was parked.

Well satisfied with that circuit,

*****

 

BLEASDALE BELONGS TO ME.

Do you remember those summer evenings after a day in the hills?  The day’s heat floating in the air. The stillness, no wind except for perhaps a gentle breeze wafting some floral scents from below.  The low light is diffused, the summits hazy. Maybe the odd midge or two disturbing your sun flushed face and arms. The stove is purring with the prospect of soup. All is well.

Last night if I closed my eyes I was there.

I was actually in Bleasdale enjoying a stroll around the estate roads. This area is much quieter than Longridge Fell and as I walked through I felt I was the only person on the planet.  It was a perfect evening and I savoured the warm sunshine which brought out those memories of summers past.

It is ironic that this has probably been one of the best few months for backpacking in many years and here we are in lockdown. Still, if I can have Bleasdale to myself  I’m not complaining.

LONGRIDGE FELL – UP AND OVER.

Eddie Waring commentated in his thick Yorkshire accent on Rugby League games in the ’60s and ’70s, one of his utterings “it’s an up and under” became almost a catchphrase. Planning this evening’s walk I wanted to push myself a little to see if my breathing had improved. For about a month or so I became breathless with the slightest of exertions which was rather disturbing, a persistent cough did not fill me with confidence either. I had a feeling I was on the mend so I needed some uphill walking. I had Eddie’s phrase at the back of my mind when I decided on an up and over walk across Longridge Fell. I’ve survived about 1000ft of ascent without too much stopping so I consider it a success.

The start of the up was on the south side of the fell, the over took me down the north side which left me with another up and over to complete the evening. The evening turned out sunny and calm with clear views in all directions, perfect walking conditions.

Although I’m trying my best to isolate myself from humanity and the lurking virus a few chance encounters enlivened the walk.

A few hundred yards through the rapidly growing plantation brings one to a little beck, Brownslow Brook. This is a favourite place of mine where the water tumbles out of the trees under a couple of wooden bridges before disappearing once again to emerge at the road to head down to Hurst Green as Dean Brook. I crossed it several times on my last outing. I often brought my boys here for dam building practice and have continued the ritual with my grandchildren. Tonight a couple were throwing sticks into the water for their Spaniel to retrieve, they were trying to wash off the dirt he had gathered from falling into a peat bog earlier. All three of them seemed to be enjoying the game.

Steeper climbing followed passing my favourite Beech tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above the path winds upwards through recently felled land and someone has been at work creating a mountain bike track with curves and jumps incorporated, it looked great fun.

On cresting the ridge you enter thicker mature woodland where in the past I have enjoyed several nights wild camping. I was aiming for the path going off the fell when I heard thumping noises just below. I ventured into the trees to investigate and found three pleasant young lads creating a steep downhill MB track. They were hard at work with spades and rakes. What a contrast to the youths inundating and despoiling our other beauty spots on recent weekends. I wished them well and will check on their progress next time I’m passing.

I found my own less steep rake going down the north side of the fell. It was an utter delight with the Vale of Chipping spread out below and the Bowland Hills in the background. [Header photo] Easy walking took me past Rakefoot Farm and out onto the Chaigley Road. I only had to walk a couple of hundred yards before a footpath sign pointed the way for my next up and over. This path had not been walked very often and degenerated into an assault course through nettles and brambles. Just when I thought I’d overcome the worst it turned into more of a stream than a path. My attention wandered to the flora beneath my feet and I was impressed by some of the smallest flowers I’ve seen. Minute water forget-me-nots and an unidentified even tinier chickweed type flower.  Trying to photo them with my phone was another matter.

At last, I was back on the open fell and climbing a definite rake without undue breathlessness. Once again there were minute flowers beneath my feet, one of the Bedstraws. As I had had enough ascent I did not feel the need to divert the short distance to the trig point. I did have time for one last backward view of Chipping Vale Bathed in the evening light. I then crossed the ridge and headed back into the forest for the downhill bit. The forest seemed empty and I made good progress on familiar tracks.

That was until I was further down and I came across the aftermath of last week’s forest fire. I was uncertain as to its whereabouts until now. Fire breaks had been created to prevent the fire from spreading. What a valiant effort from the firefighters otherwise the whole of the forest could have been lost. I chatted to a local who was also investigating the scene, we are not sure that the cause has been identified yet.

MEN Media

*****

On the way home I came across another of those inspiring poems inscribed on a slate that someone has been leaving around the fell.

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”

John O’Donohue.

 

At the end of the walk I felt I’d found my feet and the air was kind.

*****

TIME IS PASSING BY.

It is probably a week since I last walked any of my regular local routes. The weather was perfect today so I even got going before lunchtime. In the strange days we are living in, time has become warped and I have almost arrived at the position of ignoring it. That’s not all that different from my usual lifestyle. I’ve been setting a bi-weekly quiz for some friends during the lockdown and one of them commented today that if it wasn’t for the regular Thursday and Sunday questions he wouldn’t know which day of the week it was.

Since I was last out the countryside has subtly changed. The lambs have grown fatter, the grass has grown longer and the flowers have moved into another cycle. Gone are the bluebells, sorrel and primroses and more colour is now evident in the hedgerows with stitchwort, buttercups, vetch,  ragged robin and blue speedwells.

Comfrey and Cow Parsley.

Red Campion.

Buttercup.

Stitchwort, chickweed.

 

Speedwell.

The hawthorn has flowered replacing the blackthorn and what is noticeable is the sweet aroma from it. Its blossoming marks the point at which spring turns into summer, and the old saying ‘Cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’ almost certainly refers to the opening of hawthorn flowers rather than the end of the month.

Hawthorn.

The small amounts of road I have to walk on are a nightmare with some of the worst driving I’ve witnessed for a while. I read that the police are out to catch speeding drivers this weekend at the worst hotspots.

With the weather being so good I joined several of my local field paths together and ended up doing about 6 miles without noticing the time. There is no end to lockdown, as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll probably write up the same walk next week and wonder where the time has gone. But nature marches on and there will be changes underfoot to remind me of the passing year, a year I’ve all but written off for getting away.

*****

VE DAY 75 CELEBRATIONS.

 

Lest we forget – I nearly did.

I decided to go out on my bike again today, partially to avoid people and secondly to explore further afield. Not that I don’t know ‘further afield’ in intimate detail. I pedalled off into the east and found myself coming into Chipping in the early afternoon. There was bunting everywhere and there seemed to be a street party underway, all well distanced. Only then did the realisation that it was the 75th anniversary of VE Day enter my all too isolated brain. I didn’t stop for an illicit drink but I wished everyone well as I cycled past. What a good turnout. Up at the church was a classic jeep and other period vehicles had been brought out to give some atmosphere. I felt a chump for not realising the day and forgetting the two minutes silence this morning at 11am.

I was huffing and puffing on some of the hills out of Chipping and I stopped at a gateway to take a photo down the valley. Along came a couple of cyclists, my friends Kevin and Shelagh. I last saw them just before the lockdown when I called at their house on a walk over the Chipping Fells. Today they were taking their exercise and hoping to buy some cheese at one of the local dairies. After pleasantries, they cycled off with S engaging electric mode. I continued more sedately enjoying the views and fresh air.

I arrived home within the hour pleased with my modest socially distanced circuit, my belated  VE Day observances and determined to go further tomorrow.

I’m praying the government doesn’t in the next few days unravel our attempts to slow the virus and protect our NHS.

 

*****

MIXED BLESSINGS.

I realised today I’d not been out on a walk for some time. What day is it anyhow?

Last week seemed fragile topsy turvy and the last couple of days I’ve been head down in the garden. I’ve finished painting the pebble dash on my garage and have cut down a Mountain Ash that looked decidedly unhealthy last year and has shown no sign of budding this spring. By tea time I was knackered so I set off on a walk.

I had two objectives. One was to explore a little further up onto the slopes of Longridge Fell putting some ascent into my walks and secondly to gather some wild garlic leaves and flowers for cooking.

The local cricket field was immaculate for ghost players.

It was a mistake to head out on the Chipping Road and go up Mile Lane. Half the population of Longridge were using this route and I was constantly being closely passed by heavy breathing joggers. I felt quite uncomfortable as up to now I’ve been more or less completely self-isolated.

With relief, I entered field paths near the top of the lane, Old Rhodes,  where I could relax and take in the views. I don’t think the pheasant jogging past posed any risk.

I wandered down a rough lane to pass through Little Town Farm. This is a mainly dairy herd farm producing thousands of gallons of milk from their automated milking parlours. A few years ago they diversified by making yoghurt and opened a farm shop, cafe and small garden centre. It has become a popular destination for the locals to lunch out and buy fresh products. Due to the Covid19 restrictions, the cafe and garden centre are closed although there is limited access to the farm shop. Thankfully they are able to distribute most of their milk to the local cheesemakers while you hear of other farmers having to pour excess milk away.

Across the road and I was heading down to Ferrari’s Country Hotel and Restaurant, another place affected by the virus lockdown, they are doing takeaways to tick over. This is where I was able to pick the garlic and also get a glance of flowering bluebells which I’d missed so far this year

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The evening sun was delightful as I followed familiar paths home through lush green fields with the Bowland Fells in the background.  For supper, I enjoyed a poached egg on a bed of garlic leaves with new potatoes.

In future, I will avoid the lanes close to the village, why don’t I get it right in the first place?. The spring sunshine was a tonic but I was really unhappy about the number of people moving about.

Back into the garden tomorrow…

*****

Unfortunately, I’ve just watched the news on TV. I fluctuate between crying for the loss of life and the personal tales from care homes who are taking the brunt of deaths at the moment and screaming at the TV politicians attempting a positive spin on testing whilst the death toll has yet again increased. I’m ashamed we are probably the worst in Europe. I fear the process of coming out of lockdown given the previous ineptitude of our government.

What value human life?  Can Manchester United et al start playing football soon?

*****

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark III.

The other half of Bleasdale.

I felt more and more anxious as I drove a few miles this morning. I was shocked by the interview I heard on the radio the other night with an A and E specialist from Manchester. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0877mb2?fbclid=IwAR3vAf2InWHLrkSV5t5vMWedzZYA0VR5ykZKvzz7IWmrp5po4hUqJQhZTx8   His message was simple and fairly to be vigilant with social distancing, stay inside if possible and avoid unnecessary journeys. Yet here am I driving ‘unnecessarily’. I won’t be doing it again.

My attempts to exercise whilst socially distancing in the vicinity of my house have proved mixed – busy roads, too many people walking and flooded fields. I was, therefore, prepared to drive a short distance today to reach unfrequented lanes for a circular walk. I was having second thoughts and drove extra carefully to avoid any accidents, as it was there were few cars on the road and all appeared to be driving slowly.

I park up near the access road to Bleasdale Tower and Estate. I had an enjoyable walk around part of the estate last week, so will complete the other half today. The morning is superb – blue skies and bright sun. My mood improves a little as I walk along the empty road. As I gain height I convince myself the exercise is doing me some good. A cyclist passes me zigzagging up the steep hill. The walk continues along deserted estate roads, passing a couple of cottages and going by Bleasdale Tower which is well secluded behind walls and hedges.  The house was built in the early C19th by the Garnett family from Salford who greatly improved the estate land. It was a descendant who established the North Lancaster Remormatory School on the estate which I described in that previous post. The surrounding modest hills looked majestic in the sunshine, I wonder when I’ll be on them again.

Today’s photos don’t do the area justice and somehow seem incidental to my general mood.

I was soon on the road by the gatehouse, having successfully met no-one and I’m now back home in lockdown mode. I’m expecting a letter from Boris telling me to stay in for at least 12 weeks. Not sure if I’ll still be able to walk for exercise without risk to myself or the public. None of us has experienced anything like this situation before and we certainly don’t know how it will pan out in the next few weeks and months. I fear the worst.

My neighbour has just brought me some homemade leek and potato soup, left on the doorstep. It will go well with my practice loaf of bread that I made a couple of days ago.

Since I wrote this I’ve accepted that I shouldn’t be doing any unnecessary driving to go for a walk so from now on will be walking from home only.  23/03/2020.

*****

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark II.

I’m trying to exercise whilst social distancing and at the same time reduce driving to a minimum. Yesterday I was on roads all the way and didn’t really enjoy the experience, today I’ll attempt another walk direct from home but this time avoiding busy roads so I’ll need to get my boots dirty.

So off we go. It is another beautiful day, the Spring Equinox. I’m soon into fields, yes they are boggy but I’m enjoying the bird song. For the record, I see Deer, Hares, a Stoat and lots of lambs. The lambs photographed better than the rest.

 

All around me are hills – the Bowland Fells, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell.

I pass a deserted country inn, the catering trades are having a hard time. Such a shame as everything is looking so good in the spring sunshine.

Towards the end of my walk, I use an old track to cut a corner off the road but wish I hadn’t as it was virtually impassible with mud and branches.

On the last stretch of road, I spot this beast waiting for restoration.

So today was more acceptable than yesterday but I still ended up with some road walking and the fields were very unpleasant in places.

Body count today, one pedestrian and one runner, both on the roads. Nobody was out in the fields despite the perfect weather. I think it is going to have to be all off-road but on decent tracks until the ground dries or we are all grounded.

*****

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark I.

If you don’t meet it you won’t catch it.

Engaging in a healthy diet [if you can buy it in the chaos of our supemarkets] and exercising regularly are both recommended to keep a high immunity and a positive mental approach during this worldwide crisis. There are scores of articles out there detailing methods for survival. In my last post I shared the British Mountaineering Club’s sensible advice which may well change in the coming days. Today dawned the perfect walking day, bright sunshine and clear crisp air. Time to put my boots on – but where to go?  I thought to keep it local and risk-free – don’t want to put a burden on Mountain Rescue teams or ambulances and casualty.

So a walk around the roads from my house seemed sensible. I peer out to check nobody else about, I am highly vulnerable you need to know. I set off at a brisk pace down the lane and immediately bump into a neighbour who wants to chat, it is embarrassing trying to keep 2metres away.

At last, I’m out of the village but I hate the main road I’m on with cars and lorries flashing past within 2 feet never mind 2 metres – have they not heard the government advice.

I didn’t reach a calm space until branching off up Back Lane and into Ashley Lane. Along here I caught up with another walker who crossed the road to avoid me, people have been doing that for years so I wasn’t surprised. Along this stretch birds were singing and some gathering nesting material, Buzzards were flying overhead, it felt great to be out in the open and worries disappeared.

At the road junction, the Bowland Fells appeared in the distance with Beacon Fell, Fairsnape, Parlick, Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell all lined up in a splendid panorama.

As I walked into Longridge the dismal sight of traffic jams caused by new developments greeted me. Gloom descended once more.

I won’t use this route again because of the traffic on the roads. I will endeavour to come up with a better alternative for tomorrow’s Social Distancing walk.

Potential viral persons encountered   5.

*****

 

 

 

 

THE BLEASDALE CIRCLE AGAIN.

Bleasdale Circle with Fairsnape and Parlick looming above.

Another of my winter favourites. This circuit is mainly on lanes and good tracks but takes one right into the hills. I’ve written about it many times but today I have come across some interesting new facts.

For a start, Bleasdale School dating from 1850 where I park is now closed. It soldiered on since the Millenium with about a dozen pupils from the surrounding farms but when the number dropped to two or three its fate was inevitable.

Up the lane, the Parish Hall is heated using a wood pellet boiler with a wind turbine to generate electricity, forward-thinking for a small community. Further on is the uniquely named St. Eadmer Church.

The lane then heads into the hills past a few farms. A footpath diverts to visit Bronze Age Bleasdale Circle. Originally two circles of wooden posts with ditches and a central burial chamber. The wooden posts of the inner circle have been replaced by concrete posts but still are evocative of the site. There is the usual speculation as to the uses of these circles and their positioning. Burial urns from the site have been on view at the Harris Museum in Preston.  The whole site has been planted with a circle of trees which are visible from many parts of Bleasdale. The outer circle, obstructed by the trees, was possibly from an earlier Neolithic era. Ritual sites are often reused over the ages. I visited it today and got my feet very wet in the approach fields.

themodernantiquarian.com

Further into Bleasdale, there is a section of boggy ground before the next farm tracks which come in from the west, like crossing a watershed. All around are good views of the surrounding hills. As well as the Curlew and Lapwings a small flock of Pied Wagtails entertain me flitting along the wall tops. I’m now approaching the properties of the Bleasdale Estate. The estate is now run as partly agricultural and partly a shooting concern but I’ve just unearthed some of its history.

In the C19th a Mr Garnett lived in nearby Bleasdale Tower, he was an agricultural reformer and philanthropist and in 1857 founded The North Lancashire Reformatory School constructed on the estate. It catered for over a hundred boys who worked on the land and in trades such as tailoring and shoemaking as well as receiving an education

“In November 1857, a few weeks after its opening, three boys escaped from the institution due to the fence wall having not been completed. They were all apprehended in Preston the same evening and returned to the Reformatory.”

“Of the 51 discharges for 1865 thirty-three were doing well, twelve convicted, one dead and five missing”

As I walked down the lane today I crossed over Clough Head Brook on a substantial stone bridge which apparently was constructed by the boys. Stonemasons’ tools are depicted on the parapet.

The lane goes through the original school buildings which are now used as cottages and workhouses for the estate. The school enlarged over the years and eventually closed in 1905. A map from 1893 shows the school

In a wall on the corner is a King Geoge V post box [1910 -36]

Taking the shorter route on tarmac brought me past Brooks Farm where an arched ‘packhorse’ bridge is visible over the River Brock. Despite its appearance, it was never built for horses with steep steps at either end. It is not on a known packhorse trail and didn’t appear on maps till 1893. It has been suggested that the bridge was built to provide access from Bleasdale Tower to Bleasdale Church, I wonder if those reform boys built it.

In the wood nearby are some new, not particularly attractive, chalet type holiday lets, a sign of the estate diversifying.

My way back to the school was enclosed by smart beech hedging for which the estate is renowned.

I took this photo of the Bleasdale hills on my way home, St. Eadmer’s church is right of centre.*****

*****

This walk was completed two days ago and since then advice about walking and climbing during the coronavirus emergency has been sensibly updated. As I’m in the vulnerable group I’m taking heed. We are all responsible for limiting the seriousness of the situation in the next few months.

BMC Advice.  18/03/2020

  • People need access to the countryside for their health – both mental and physical.
  • Follow the most current NHS advice regarding health and distancing. Currently Public Health England’s advice is: “you can go for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.”
  • Consider your means of travel and distance – close to home is best and, despite the environmental impact, it’s better to be in personal cars than public transport at the moment.
  • Stick to familiar areas and low-risk activities.
  • Reduce your risk. Be very aware that medical and rescue services and facilities are going to be extremely stretched and overwhelmed. It would be socially irresponsible to be taking risks at this time that could place an additional burden on medical and emergency services.
  • Do not assume that Mountain Rescue will be available. There is a real possibility of reduced or even no cover for rescue in some areas as this develops.

 

CURLEW COUNTRY, STANLEY FELL.

I’ve set the bar high with trying to keep my feet dry in the wet weather we’ve had. But I’ve found another walk which takes me on lanes into the rough fell country between Chipping Vale and the Bowland Fells, namely Stanley Fell. There is nothing more evocative of this wild habitat at this time of year than the cries of the Curlew and the Lapwing. They were both present in voice and vision whilst in the gale-force winds unable to be photographed, but you all know what they look like.

Walking up the road there was little traffic. More hens out on the loose than cars. White railings were used on corners of country lanes to improve visibility. I turned off into the Leagram Estate and passed the dell where snowdrops were in profusion last week. The next farm has a surfeit of sheep and lambs under roof all looking very healthy, they breed BlueFaced Leicesters here..

I love these tree roots.

Lanes continue to more remote farms many now upmarket residences. Ahead is proud Parlick. I’m getting into the hills.

I come out onto a road where Saddle End Farm is up the hill, I’m not going that way today but buy a half dozen free-range eggs at the end of their lane. I wonder if anyone is up on Fairsnape in this gale.

Saddle End Farm.

Turning right I follow the last of the tarmac which leads to the remotest farm, Burnslack. A culverted stream runs alongside. I recall coming here with my young children and exploring through the concrete pipes, admittedly not in flood conditions, to emerge higher up the stream – nine out of ten for child cruelty.

The way in…

A bridleway heads into the hills where the curlew are calling. On the way, a gate hangs on across the track, not even baler twine will save this one.

There is an old ford over a lively stream, I often feel an urge to follow these waters up to their hidden source, an endless task. This is remote country, not a coronavirus insight. As I come over the watershed there are the limestone knolls of Dinkling ahead and in the background Birkett Fell and Warrington Fell. Expansive uplifting scenery.

The track drops down to Lickhurst Farm, now a complex of stone residential conversions. Below is a little valley, a motorist parked up asks me where the Forest of Bowland is – I tell him he is in it and direct him through Little Bowland to the Inn at Whitewell. An old limekiln is passed…

… and a little further a low bridge over a stream, this used to be a ford and alongside is the original stone clapper bridge. This is unique in being a single stone over 15ft long. [Now guarded by wooden handrails.] All evidence of a way of living long past.

The road goes on by that often photographed and isolated red phonebox.

I have friends living in the Higher Greystoneley farm buildings so a cup of tea is very welcome. From there another stoney bridleway drops down to a ford, with wooden footbridge, and through limestone country to my car. I drive home in the gale knowing my feet remained dry and looking forward to poaching one of those farm eggs for lunch.

*****

.

RAPTOR PERSECUTON.

The Hen Harrier is an iconic bird of the Bowland  Fells, one I saw regularly in Croasdale but now, rare indeed. It even features as a logo on the roadsigns for the Forest of Bowland. [Some wit has suggested replacing it with a grouse.}

On the Radio Lancashire news yesterday there was an appeal to the public regarding the shooting of a Hen Harrier on the Bowland Fells between Slaidburn and Clapham. The unusual nature of this appeal from the police is that the shooting took place in October 2019. I wondered how seriously the police take these criminal acts if they are only now asking for information.

A little research comes up with the following post. As well as questioning the police response to this incident they publish a depressing list of about 30 Hen Harriers believed to have been illegally killed since 2018.

No further comment. Please read.

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2020/03/05/hen-harrier-shot-in-north-yorkshire-police-appeal-for-info-5-months-later/

A QUICK WALK ROUND BEACON FELL.

Longridge Fell is usually my quick fix hill for some fresh air and views but the tracks up onto it will be muddy, to say the least. I choose instead Beacon Fell with its well-made tracks,  it is no further to drive. Longridge Fell Is reputedly the most southerly named fell so Beacon Fell must be the second being only one mile further north. I can ascend both of them easily from my house for longer walks but this afternoon I only have an hour or so spare.

As I arrive in the quarry car park a pair of Roe Deer stand and look at me but quickly disappear when I open the car door. I thought I had a photo of the male but nothing shows up.

I walk briskly in a circle around the hill on familiar paths. I’ve never come to terms with the waymarking here.

There are a few dog walkers out, the cafe is strangely quiet. Everywhere seems green and moss-covered, a sign of a mild and very wet winter.

As I’ve mentioned on previous visits up here storms have taken their toll on some areas of the forest with a lot of tree felling taking place to tidy things up. Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise as the fell has a more open feel to it now and some of the new plantings are of native deciduous trees. Also, wood carvers have been busy creating new pieces.  I add a few more to my collection. There are ‘Green Men’ carved on some trees… … but today I find something a bit different – a ‘Green Woman’ or has someone taken a fancy to one of the lady volunteer rangers?

An obligatory visit to the trig point and I notice that the views to Fairsnape and Parlick are becoming obscured by growing firs – time for another storm?

I’m back at the car within the hour feeling much refreshed.

NICKY NOOK. Calm before the storm.

As I arrived at the summit of Nicky Nook, a modest 215m, the wind was strong enough to make photography difficult. It was mid-afternoon, I hadn’t set off very early and Storm Ciara is on her way.  This hill, I don’t know the reason for its name, is just across the fields from my walk to Calder Vale the other day.

There were crowds coming up Nicky Nook from Scorton, or rather from cars parked everywhere on the lanes leading up to the fell, all to save half a mile of uphill. Traffic chaos prevailed. If this was the lakes these lanes would have double yellow lines to preserve peace and quiet for the local residents. I’d come a different way creeping round the back. A little lane off the main road gave sensible parking and I set off walking by St. Peter’s Church, the one with the pointy spire seen from the motorway heading north.

[Squire Peter Ormrod, who had made his money from the  Lancashire cotton mills, there was one in Scorton, built  Wyresdale Park in the mid-C19th. He died in 1875 and his brother James built the Church in his memory. All the family are buried here.  The architects were Paley and Austin of Lancaster, who designed many beautiful local churches. Interestingly the cut sandstone came from Longridge quarries.]

The road leading south from Scorton is narrow and busy and as a Millenium project a raised pathway was constructed to avoid the traffic. You feel rather hemmed in but I made good use of it today between the road and the River Wyre. Soon I was crossing fields with the prominent westerly stone tower of Nicky Nook visible above.

Footbridges crossed both the rail line and motorway giving close up views of the speeding trains, now in a new livery, and the traffic on the motorway with that well-known view of the spire of St. Peters.

A vague path crossed more damp fields to the complex of houses at Throstle Nest. Signage was poor and one had the feeling of being unwelcome close to the expensive properties. Even the stile leading to the road was low key and not signed from the highway. Normally most paths in the Wyre District are well marked. Feeling grumpy I was distracted and set off along the lane in the wrong direction!

After correcting my mistake I arrived at the entrance to Grizedale, a deep wooded valley coming out of the Bowland Fells. I made good progress up the well-used track, most people were coming the other way having already descended from Nicky Nook. A seat in the valley took my attention – one wonders about the stories behind these inscriptions.

Rest awhile and think of Vicki – drinking coke and looking pretty. 1990-2004.

The fell above was cloaked with rhododendrons which seemed at odds with the birch and oak forest I was walking through. A reservoir was reached, Grizedale Reservoir built in the mid – C19th along with others nearby to serve the Fylde with water from the Bowland Hills.

The steep climbing started up steps and a made-up path, it is a very popular hill. On the way up a tower was seen to the left and I went to investigate, probably for surveying when the reservoirs were constructed.

As I said the wind was already troublesome on the top and I didn’t linger long. Since I was last here Lancashire Red Roses have been stencilled on the trig point. Views to the Bowland Fells, towards the Lakes and Morecambe Bay were a little hazy. The most obvious visible features were man-made – Morecambe power Station, the motorway and several large caravan parks.

A wide track set off down towards Scorton but my attention was taken by another tower off to the west. It turned out to be a memorial to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and gave a birds-eye view of Scorton. Its makeshift pole has gone askew.

Back on the main track, the hordes were returning to their parked cars. I slid off onto a delightful little path in the woods above Tithe Barn Brook taking me back to my parked car.

A pleasant two and a half hours’ exercise.

*****

CALDER VALE.

Calder Vale is a hidden village tucked away from the world to the east of the Bowland Fells. Quakers Jonathan & Richard Jackson founded Calder Vale realising the River Calder would provide water power and in 1835 the Lappet mill was built to spin cotton. At the same time, they provided for their workers and their families by building houses on site. A further mill was built downstream for weaving the fabrics. Most of the mills have long since closed but the Lappet mill has survived by specialising in the production of Arab head shawls!  Those red or blue and white shemaghs for protection from the sun as well as windblown sand.   Time for a revisit.

I waited this morning for the mist to disperse, and I waited. By 12am I decided to set off hoping the sun would appear as promised. I am not far away as the crow flies but the lanes in this area are a maze. Eventually, I found a parking place by Sandholme Bridge on the Calder. I wanted to walk into Calder Vale from above to fully appreciate its position. The quiet lane rose up above the river heading towards the Bowland Hills [which were in the cloud]. I was directed off the lane towards Cobble Hay Farm, a working farm that also hosts a popular cafe and gardens. Guess what? it has been closed all winter but is reopening tomorrow, so no coffee today. The original farm is dated 1681.

Once through the farm, one is onto open pastureland which today was a quagmire and I was concerned about becoming stuck as my boots sank further and further into the mud. Up above a couple of buzzards were wheeling around and crying. I approached the next farm cautiously thinking there may be dogs at loose but I was greeted by this friendly face.

I’m now on the edge of the Bleasdale Fells [Bowland], there used to be a pub up here, The Moorcock, now closed and a private house. I was aiming for the little St John’s Church,1863. the parish church high above the village.  It was closed today but apparently has some fine stained glass. Next to it is the little village school serving a wider area than just Calder Vale, I wonder how many children walk up from the valley each morning.

I reversed their route through the woods to meet up with the River Calder down below. A pleasant stretch alongside the lively water brought me to a weir where water was taken off to a large millpond which previously supplied the Lappet mill. The mill is no longer water-powered but it is interesting to follow the original leats.

Now deep in the valley, the first row of Calder Vale workers cottages are passed and how delightful they look today but car parking is obviously a modern-day problem. [heading photo]

The Lappet Mill is massive and the sounds of weaving can be heard outside. Let’s hope the demand for headscarves continues.

Just past the mill is an old farmhouse, a sheepdog rushes out to greet me. The farmer appeared and we had a long chat on all things rural, meanwhile, the dog rounded up all the hens in the yard – showing off said the farmer.

More cottages were reached over a footbridge. Alongside the river, there was very little sign of the lower mill, only a few stones and water channels here and there.

The track climbed out of the valley and crossed fields to a country lane. A man was practising with a parapente on an easy slope, he never got off the ground.

Once on the road, I walked quickly back to the car with the weak sun in the west and the rumble from the motorway becoming intrusive. I stopped to buy half a dozen farm eggs towards my tea.

*****

ANOTHER VISIT TO ROEBURNDALE.

I ‘discovered’ Roeburndale whilst walking Wainwright’s Way between Dunsop Bridge and Hornby a couple of months ago. The route I was following dropped into the valley and climbed out just as quickly. I thought there must be a better way to explore this valley of natural woodlands. Research on the web showed some permissive paths but even those didn’t link up completely. When Sir Hugh was wanting to complete his WW trail in the area I was only too keen to revisit and investigate paths in the valley. The plan was to leave one car at Hornby, drive to the foot of Salter Fell and walk back down the hidden valley. Simple. Come the day and we struggle to negotiate the ice on the narrow steep road, expert driving by Sir Hugh. Shaken after skidding up that steep hill we consider what to do. I became nervous about returning up the hill in my car later in the day and having two cars stuck. We decided unanimously to get the hell out of here as soon as possible, so Sir Hugh in first gear retreats. The skid marks on the road were still there later in the day – good decision. The road is much steeper than the picture suggests.

Now parked up in Wray our option is to walk up Roeburndale and somehow [all a bit vague] find a circular route back. Wray is a quiet village of stone cottages which hit the headlines in August 1967 when the Rivers Roeburn and Hindburn flooded causing loss of properties, bridges and livestock but thankfully no villagers. The way out of the village is by Kitten Bridge over the River Roeburn, this was the way for workers going to Wray Mill [wool and silk] now converted into accommodation. Looking back over the village Ingleborough was prominent.

We picked up a track leaving the road at a small building and followed it into the woods quite high above the river. The path was intermittent and hidden beneath all the Autumn leaves.  In about a third of a mile, it started descending steeply and remains of wooden steps in places suggesting we were on track. Once down level with the river, there was some boulder hopping to be done and lots of fallen trees to get around. A truly hidden valley.

A meadow was then traversed to the bridge I had crossed before in the middle of those apple orchards. This time we followed the permissive footpath signs along the valley. The vague path climbed away from the river ending at a belvedere overlooking the river. Onwards we went, picking up the odd waymark and guessing, intelligently, where the path would go. We spotted a diversion to the wire bridge across the river and went to explore the other side. The bridge was exciting – slippery, creaking and swaying.   A camping barn was marked on the map and we found it after one false alarm. We gained access from the outer stairs which led into the bunk room, all very cosy. Down a ladder, we were in the kitchen with all you would need for a night’s stay. I wonder who owns/runs this place. Once back over the bridge……we pick up the permissive path once more as it contours high in the valley just in the edge of the woods. The day was passing, there was no sign of a thaw and we didn’t have a plan. My thought of returning along the fells to the east was slipping away with the daylight.  We decided to follow blindly the permissive path and cross the river by the bridge Sir Hugh had found the other day. Lots of undulations in the trees before we came out into open fields and started dropping down to the river. A muddy track led us to ‘Sir Hugh’s bridge’  which was sturdier than the last one. The path seemed to go away from the river so we made the decision to climb up to the road which would be our quickest way back to Wray. [It would have only been another quarter of a mile to Barkin Bridge and thus completing a stretch of Wainwright’s Way wholly in this delightful wooded valley.]                                                                                                                                             In parts the road was an ice rink and as I said our tyre marks were still visible from this morning. This otherwise pleasant stroll down the lanes was enhanced by views to Ingleborough, Whernside, the Howgills and the Lakeland tops.

They were just starting carol singing when we arrived in Wray.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 4. DUNSOP BRIDGE TO HORNBY.

The heart of Bowland.

I knew this would be a long arduous day so I did it out of sequence in the good weather mid-September. I used devious tactics to complete the walk but I’m happy to write it up as it should be.

Head of Whitendale. A Wainwright. 1981.

Following a coffee at Puddleducks Cafe,  I set off along the lane out of Dunsop Bridge heading into the fells. A gentle stroll, alongside the Dunsop River, leads to the prominent Middle Knoll where the water board roads divide, one going left into the Brennand Valley the other going right into Whitendale. Wainwright’s Way follows the latter but I know a better way.  Cross the river and follow a path up the right bank before climbing into Costy Cough and picking up a level path all the way to Whitendale Farm.

Middle Knoll.

Costy Clough.

Whitendale Farm.

There is lots of interest along this path but today the highlight was seeing a Hen Harrier rising from the valley and fluttering up the fell. This is a rare sight these days as their population over grouse moors has been drastically reduced by foul means. Bowland should have a decent population of Hen Harriers, a book well worth seeking out is Bowland Beth by David Cobham which highlights major issues in UK conservation.

At Whitendale Farm, part of the Duchy of Lancaster, paths go in several directions. WW goes up the valley following the Whitendale River. The dogs in the kennels give you a good send-off. This is shooting country and bred pheasants are everywhere. The grouse shooting this year has been restricted due to the Heather Beetle devastating large areas. It is usually a squelchy route up the valley and today is no different. A few random boardwalks don’t really help but the waymark posts keep one in the right direction. I plod upwards in the heat with the occasional submerged leg.

Side valleys often have Ring Ousels and Dippers but none today.  A post on the Hornby Road beckons and I’m soon sat on a convenient rock for a snack, I could probably sit here for hours before another person appeared.  This old road over Salter Fell has been described as one of the best moorland walks in England. The Romans came this way en route from Manchester to Carlisle and then the packhorses, bringing salt to Lancashire and wool to the coast. The Lancashire Witches were dragged across to Lancaster Court for sentencing and hanging. I’m surprised that WW comes up Whitendale, a difficult route rather than the easier way from Slaidburn, AW was familiar with both. His Bowland Sketchbook from 1981 illustrates the area well and he had a certain respect for relatively unknown Bowland, not much has changed from his time.

I set off along the good track, below on the left is the head of Whitendale and way above the rocks of Wolfhole Crag. All is wild and remote. the track follows the slopes of Salter Fell for a good way before views open up to the west. The infant Roeburn River gradually gains volume running west, To the north Ingleborough and its neighbours stand out, a little hazily in the afternoon sun. The silence is only disturbed by a couple of motorcyclists making the through trip.

Upper Roeburndale.

A lone cyclist comes the other way. The track goes on and on and slowly loses height towards Higher Salter Farm. There are hazy views of the Lakes, Howgills and the Barbon Fells. The last time I was up here was on The Lancashire Witches Walk which at Higher Salter veers off to Littledale and Caton Moor.

 

 

Higher Salter Farm.

Higher Salter Farm.  A Wainwright. 1981.

Today I carry on past Middle Salter to Lower Salter where there is a small Methodist chapel. Built in 1901 it will have been a meeting place for the far-flung farms in Roeburndale. It was open so I rested a while in its plain interior.                                                                                                                                                                               Looking back up the Salter Fell Road Mallowdale Pike is prominent, described by AW as “one of the few fells in Bowland with a graceful outline”  It is an outlier of the Clougha Pike/ Ward’s  Stone range. The road drops further to cross the Roeburn, a river of hidden delights. WW follows the road for almost a mile with the bonus of good views to the Northeast but I notice concessionary paths possibly by the river, I haven’t time to explore today but make a mental note to return.

Reaching Back Farm the way goes steeply down into the heavily wooded valley on a path that gets little use. There are signs of occupation: yurts, sheds, coppicing, vegetable plots, orchards between the trees. Looks like an organic environmental settlement but there is nobody about. http://www.middlewoodtrust.co.uk/

A narrow wooden bridge crosses the river into more orchards. There is still no sign of anybody about. I suspect that one of those concessionary paths would bring you here without the road walking. Anyhow, I gain a cart track leading up through the woods and fields to arrive at a small road heading back down to a converted mill. Wray Mill started as a woolen mill but adapted to produce silk, cotton a nd bobbins, it closed in the 1930’s.  Kitten Bridge, nice name, crosses the Roeburn and a little track leads straight into Wray.

This bridge was washed away in the August 1967 floods along with cottages at the lower part of Wray. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been in Wray before, it’s off the beaten track. Anyway, the Main Street off the main road is a pleasant collection of cottages with a homely feel to it. There aren’t many buses so I have to continue a further mile through fields to Hornby. Ingleborough is over my right shoulder all the way and ahead is Hornby Castle, its C13 base obliterated by a C19 Gothic building. I join the River Wenning for the last stretch into the village.

A Wainwright 1980.

 

 

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WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 3. LONGRIDGE FELL TO DUNSOP BRIDGE.

Across Chipping Vale.

Here I am back at the trig point on Longridge Fell, it is a beautiful, cold but sunny Autumn day. Sir Hugh has joined the fun and we’ve taken one car to Dunsop Bridge and driven back to park below the fell. I’m sorry we are not keeping to AW’s use of public transport.

A warm-up walk and a catch-up chat soon sees us on the ridge with the compulsory visit to the summit trig. A few people are wandering about up here not wanting to miss the good weather. After a photo session and orientation of distant hills, mainly the Fairsnape ridge, Bowland and the Three Peaks, we find the steep rake dropping down into the Vale of Chipping, spread out below us. Our distant destination of Dunsop Bridge visible in the folds of the fells. This brings us to the road next to the Bradley Hall complex of buildings. WW says to go through the complex but our more modern map says go round the diversion to the left. This is the start of troublesome field navigation for the next mile or so. The waymarks run out, the paths run out, the stiles disappear, the fields get boggier and we are left to our own devices, no fences were damaged, no wires cut when we finally stumbled down a ladder stile onto the road next to Doeford Bridge. I think it took us longer than we realised.

A sign tells us we are entering the Queen’s land which we enjoy for the rest of today

.

This beautiful sandstone bridge spans the Hodder just downstream from where the River Loud joins having come out of Chipping Vale. The bridge is sketched in AW’s Bowland book.

Doeford Bridge. 1981. A Wainwright

There was a good volume of water today after several days of heavy rain. Having crossed another field we dropped down to the Hodder which had looped round a different way.  I wanted to have a look at the stepping stones next to Stakes farm so we made the short diversion, there was no way you could have crossed the river here today. Luckily we found a bench overlooking the river and stopped for lunch.

AW?

Behind us was Stakes Farm an early C17th house with mullioned windows and a plaque in Latin, translation please. Amazingly a brick extension has been built into the angle between the two wings.

We follow fields just above the river. The area between Longridge Fell and the Bowland fells is beautiful and unknown countryside, especially in today’s sunny weather, backed by the dark hills. Across the river used to be a ‘Wild boar park’ but it has closed recently. We cross the road into more fields running above the Whiewell Gorge where the river runs deep in the woods. [It is on the opposite bank that you can find the Fairy Hole caves.] Views into the Bowland Fells surrounding Dunsop Bridge keep us going.

I think we are following one of the aqueducts taking water out of the to industrial Lancashire, the distinctive Waterboard gates accompany us. We drop down past a graveyard and pop out onto the road next to the famous Inn at Whitewell. There is time to have a look into the adjacent Church of St. Michael with its striking stained glass window.  We resisted calling at the inn as time was drifting on and I think once seated it would have been difficult to get going again. A permissive path close to The Hodder leads deeper into Bowland with the next feature sketched by AW – Burholme Bridge.

Above us on the right was the distinctive Birkett Fell scene of one of our recent struggles. Our pace was slowing and instead of the familiar track by the river to Thorneyholme we crossed the pipe bridge, erected by Blackburn Borough Waterboard in 1882. with its unusual turnstile gates at either end. The way along the river was convoluted as we bypassed Root Farm famous for Kettledrum, a Derby winner bred hereabouts. Our arrival into Dunsop Bridge was unfortunately too late to have tea at Puddleducks Cafe.

Dunsop Bridge.   A Wainwright 1981.

We reflected on this wonderful crossing of Chipping Vale, Lancashire at its very best but wondered why 8 miles seemed so far. I was glad I’d divided this stage of WW into two enjoyable days, days to be savoured.

Here is an evening photo of the rake we descended from Longridge Fell early in the day.

Possibly Sir Hugh may have a different view of the day.   http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/

*****