Tag Archives: Caves

LECK – a day out with Tilley.

Things don’t always work out as planned, today’s walk was one of those.

In the past I have often explored Leck Beck from the village up to Ease Gill and remember the dramatic scenery particularly in Ease Gill Kirk. We would often finish the day with some simple cave exploration on the fell, Short Drop and Lost Johns Caves stand out in my memory. So when the Pieman and his little brother Will [all is relative] suggested a revisit I was keen to join them. Out came Wainwright’s Limestone book with the relative chapter, maybe we could also throw in an ascent of Gragareth.

The day started well as I parked up next to the church and donated them a pound , cheaper than those car parks in the Lakes. We met up promptly but there was an unexpected addition to the team – Tilley the spaniel, Will’s beloved dog. This didn’t seem a problem as she was on a lead and appeared docile enough. Off we went catching up on events in our separate lives and reveling in the lovely weather. Tilley trotted alongside. Only when we into more open country did I realise that Tilley could run Will a merry dance, despite being on one of those retractable leads when she decided to explore off route Will seemed to have to run after her.  Hilarious.

The valley was longer and more beautiful than we remembered. Certainly longer for Will dragged aside by Tilley. By the time we reached the interesting Ease Gill Kirk my plan to drop into it to explore further didn’t resonate with the brothers plus dog and they left me to it. Feeling rather abandoned my visit was only cursory and I didn’t see what I wanted. The whole place seemed overgrown and unreconisable, I’ll have to return without any pressure.

Reunited for lunch we discussed the way on, the dog team won and we climbed up the hillside, now resplendent in purple heather, towards the road near Leck Fell House. This must be one of the loneliest places in Lancashire, yes we are still in an outpost of Lancashire despite the ‘dales’ feel to the area. I didn’t have the heart to inform the other two they were not in their beloved Yorkshire, they might have panicked. Potholes were all now fenced off and I didn’t have the time to find my favourite, Short Drop Cave. I used to enjoy dropping into it, it was only a short drop once you knew it, and going down the water worn passage was easy for some distance.  Apparently the dog was tired so our ascent of Gragareth was dismissed. At least we made a cursory exploration of the area of Lost Johns Cave, a stream entrance was obvious but today there was too much water  and too little enthusiasm for further probing.

Back on the road it was a delightful walk back down to Leck with Tilley showing no further signs of fatigue lead the way. The scenery hereabouts triumphed over my frustrations as we arrived back early at the car.

I would like to make it clear I have no malice towards the lovely Tilley, as they say it’s not the dog’s fault  it’s the owner’s.

A map of where we did and didn’t go…

FAIRY HOLES CAVE – WHITEWELL.

My stereotypical image of prehistoric life is of a family sat eating round a fire, animal bones scattered about, in the mouth of a cave. Hence this morning I found myself sat in a cave entrance high above the River Hodder near Whitewell living the dream. Fairy Holes Cave was excavated in 1946 and more recently in 2013 and has revealed cremated human bones, animal bones and pieces of pottery dated to the early Bronze Age. I had not been here for maybe 35 years when I had come to show my children the virtually unknown site. I remember it took some finding and was on private land – it remains so to this day. Once located there are three caves in a limestone outcrop, the middle one being by far the most extensive. A high entrance leads to a 25m long cave which you need to stoop along until at the furthest point a phreatic tube allows you to stand again. My head torch only allowed a poor view of the features but I was hoping some photos would show more. Having satisfied my speleological desires I clambered up the hillside and continued on my walk through this limestone area of Bowland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The early morning start north of Chipping saw me parked up at the end of a bridleway, now a surfaced lane, leading to a prominent Lime-kiln on Knott Hill, this was used to provide lime for the fields and mortar. Throughout this walk little outcrops and quarries of limestone are discovered.

The tracks onwards to Lickhurst Farm were waterlogged reflecting the amount of rain we’ve experienced this summer. Got chatting to the weathered farmer, whom I knew from a previous life, about these isolated Bowland Hill farms. He is due for retirement soon and is one of the last generation born and bread in the area. So many buildings, farms and barns have been upgraded for a new breed of incomers. The property next to him which seemed derelict a couple of years ago when I passed through now offers luxury accommodation. We speculated, with a smile,  on how they will manage cut off in the next harsh winter – no doubt helicopters will be involved and the TV will report on a survival rescue.

Lickhurst Farm.

The next stretch through more  wet fields passed farmsteads, Dinkling Green and Higher Fence Wood, amidst curious Limestone Knolls surrounded by the Bowland Fells:  a juxtaposition  of grit and lime. Hereabouts I had heard of caves but never found them, I wandered about in vain for awhile and was on the verge of giving up when I spotted a fenced enclosure, a give away really. There it was – an obvious cave opening in an outcrop. It turned out to be a few cave entrances to a system which looked as though it extended down into deeper passages – not for me alone today. Has this cave a name I wonder?

Down the lane and across fields towards a small quarried outcrop which I remember bouldering on years ago and which is now in the definitive Lancashire Bouldering Guide named appropriately Reef Knoll Crag. Anyhow passing quickly onwards I arrive in the farm yard of New Laund where workers are busy sorting sheep. Nobody notices my diversion to Fairy Holes…

 

… my continuation over New Laund Hill gives views back to ‘The Jaws of Bowland’ with Mellor Knoll, Burholme Bridge and the Whitendale Fells prominent. Ahead is the deep wooded valley enclosing The Hodder with the slopes of Longridge Fell behind. Some creative navigation through Fair Oak put me on the right track to Greystonely, another farmstead with converted buildings, the one whose residents I knew were out so no cups of tea! The bridleway over a ford quickly took me back to my car and I was home for lunch.

 

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