Tag Archives: Chipping Vale

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.

 

*****

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.

*****

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OUT OF LONGRIDGE.

I wake to bright sunshine but take some time and coffee to get going. The health of two of my best friends is deteriorating; one with heart and kidney failure, the other with cruel dementia. I was talking to them both yesterday and it struck me that it doesn’t seem long since we were out climbing and walking together. So you have caught me in a pensive mood, not at all that  ‘happy new year’ feeling. I should have arranged a walk with one of my other friends for today – to ‘get me out of it’ but now it’s too late, I’ll just have to go myself which is not good for those introspective thoughts but I usually find the combination of sunshine and exercise clears my mind.

I’ve had enough of muddy fields recently so I’m happy to walk on roads for some much-needed exercise after the season’s excesses. Living where I do I’m lucky to be able to walk out my door and ascend a fell, in fact, the most southerly named fell in Britain, Longridge Fell. I’ve done it hundreds of times before. No matter there is always something new or worthwhile.  To start I spot a half dozen partridges running across the road in front of me, is it a covey or a bevy? And then a buzzard on the telegraph wires. After that, I seem to run out of wildlife sitings. Longridge is surrounded by water in the form of reservoirs and I pass the smallest one on my way out of town. Then I walk below the golf course which looks in fine fettle for winter but it must be a struggle in the wind, it is so exposed to the elements.

The road, the old Clitheroe road which kept to high ground, goes up and down towards the New Drop Inn. Few cars pass me. Turning the corner here I am walking in the footsteps of the Romans, this was their way from Ribchester to Carlisle.  The highest point on the road is reached near Cardwell House and looking back Pendle Hill looks as proud as ever. I bump into an old friend taking his dog for some exercise up the fell, we chat about all things local. This is his favourite hill and he’ll have his ashes scattered nearby. Coincidentally this is also one of my favourite viewpoints and my ashes will be here too, I told you I was in a morbid mood.  Years ago I asked a local artist, A Lord, to paint me the view from here over Chipping Vale with the Fairsnape/Totridge ridge in the background.

This painting is one of my prized possessions with its links to a past friend and to this great viewpoint. In the painting are the white iron railings that were a common sight on road corners around here to improve visibility for the motorist. They are slowly disappearing, I’ve always thought they should be listed as unique structures.

The weather was changing, dark rain clouds circling around the hills with the occasional rainbow over Chipping. Soon it was all downhill back to Longridge. Five miles with five hundred feet of ascent in one and a half hours. That’s how you clear your mind. Oh, and I found three good golf balls to boot.

*****

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

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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/

*****

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

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

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

Saddle End Farm and fell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

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

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

Lickhurst Farm.

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

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

*****

 

A SUNDAY MORNING STROLL.

I can’t say much new about Longridge Fell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was good to catch up.

*****

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

ZIG ZAGGING UP FAIRSNAPE.

The way to the zig zags.

From Bleasdale if the light is right one can see a zig zag track going up the southern slopes of Fairsnape. Today, Easter Sunday, the sun was strongly shining onto that slope and the way was not obvious but a look at the satellite map shows the track clearly from Higher Fairsnape Farm..Fairsnape is usually climbed from the outskirts of Chipping following tracks over Parlick but I have not used these zig zags and I thought today would be a good time to avoid the crowds. Sure enough when I reached Fell Foot the were already a dozen cars parked up, this is the spot where the paragliders start their trek up the hill. An insignificant footpath pointer on the corner led me into rough fields  where few go, but stiles some more substantial than others link up a pathless route which traverses round below Parlick to above Blindhurst farm.The sound of Lapwings and Curlews was everywhere, a hare popped up directly in front of me before disappearing into the distance. There seem to be an abundance of Orange Tip butterflies this year. There are new-born lambs and in the sky early paragliders. To my right is open access land [rough poor land that the landowners were happy to allow to be designated in the CRoW act] and it struck me that the colour of the land resembled the brown colouring on the 1:25,000 maps.

I dropped into a valley with a tributary of the River Brock and passed a green spot that would be ideal for a wild camp with my youngest grandchild if I could get him off his iPad. There was nobody about at Higher Fairsnape farm except new-born lambs. The buildings look old with mullioned windows and one wonders about the hardships of farming these remote places in the past and even now.

A signpost pointed the way on a concessionary path to reach the start of my zigzags. Once on the open fell I enjoyed a leisurely ascent up the well graded tracks, I always assume these tracks were for bringing peat down from the fells.

At one of the turns was the remains of a building, perhaps a shelter for the workers.

Years ago I can remember a similar structure with a disintegrating roof on the way up nearby Saddle Fell, it has now become a pile of stones but perhaps hides a sombre history.

On 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were faced with severe winter conditions which result in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister Sheila survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. The brothers probably took shelter in the hut.  There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so it was left to the police and locals to search, British Aircraft Corporation loaned their whirlwind helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy a South Ribble Rescue team was set up, now the local Bowland Pennine team.

  Above me were paragliders soaring the thermals and lots of people coming up the route from Parlick, I had seen nobody for two hours. My track came onto the plateau only a few hundred yards from the summit. Up here there is a cairn with Paddy’s Pole, a wind shelter and the trig point, 510m. I had a quick look around for a suitable bivi spot in the near future.

I was able to take a summit photo of a couple on their first ascent of Fairsnape and pointed out that the true summit, 520m, was half a mile away NE and that today conditions were perfect for visiting it as the peat hags that guard it have virtually dried up. I met up with them there later. the views were hazy – no Lakeland Hills or Three Peaks, Pendle and Longridge Fell were a blur.

520m summit.

A romp down the wallside and round Parlick. Looking back across Bleasdale towards Fairsnape showed no evidence of my zig zags. I walked below the popular spots for launching parapentes and many were still in the air. I passed a late starter walking up with his load.

The day was finished before lunch back at the road at Fell Foot.

*****