Tag Archives: Chipping Vale

DEEP IN CHIPPING VALE.

One of the tags for my blog is ‘Chipping Vale’  and its used quite often.   I’m often looking down into this valley as it lies between Longridge Fell and the Bowland Fells. I’m not sure whether this is an official designation or a figment of my imagination. There is no mention on the OS maps, basically I’m referring to the Loud River catchment area which arises in the hills near Beacon Fell and meanders under Chipping into the Hodder at Doeford Bridge. Well today we’ll explore into this valley.

Chipping Vale from Longridge Fell.

There are several  points of interest – historic houses, ancient bridleways and limestone quarries. I’ve a book about limestone kilns and quarries in the area which highlights Arbour Quarry at Thornley as a major commercial  site so I was keen to revisit it.

Since my trip up the NE coast of Scotland I’ve hit a problem – I suddenly overnight painfully stiffened up in my shoulders and thighs. After some prognostication I presented myself to my GP – Polymyalgia Rheumatica [PMR] was his initial diagnosis  but the blood tests were equivocal. Give it another week and nothing much has changed, painful stiffness and similar bloods. I’m limiting myself to gentle walks around the village later in the day when I’m less stiff.

To hell with it I’m going for a longer walk and phone JD for companion, he’s strong enough to carry me if things become difficult.

So our venture into Chipping Vale commences. Field tracks out of Longridge are taken past ponds, where my lads used to fish for tench, to Gill Bridge over the River Loud, more of a stream than a river, where they had tickled unsuccessfully for trout. Private roads through the Blackmoss Estate formerly Lord Derby’s domain took us past converted barns and gentrified houses as is the norm around here. Indistinct field paths which seemed little walked brought us into the farmyard of Hesketh End a grade one listed C17th house.  The sandstone house has lovely mullioned windows and is noted for latin inscriptions on the exterior telling of historic incidents.

Chipping Vale with Longridge Fell in the background.

Hesketh End.

A nearby  property was ruinous 20 years ago and is now a substantial dwelling. We came out onto the road close to the recently closed Dog and Partridge, many pubs are capitulating in rural surroundings. From here we crossed the River Loud by a wooden footbridge. The banks of the river were heavily overgrown with Himalayan Balsam, its scent pervading the area. The low-lying meadows here are frequently flooded in the winter months when our track would be under water. We were heading for the extensive Arbour quarry, a source of limestone into the early C 20th. Lime was important to the farmers for improving their land. All that remains now are grassed over ridges and ponds, the latter having a large duck population. Sitting on a limestone outcrop for lunch we were covered with little black flies which fortunately were of the nonbiting variety. We couldn’t identify them but they were similar to ones I called Thunder Flies, it was certainly very humid today. There was wild mint growing  everywhere giving a stong aroma and attracting Painted Lady butterflies. I had vague memories of a large limekiln somewhere here but we couldn’t find it today in all the summer growth. There is a photo in my book of it operational.

Crossing to the other side of the valley we climbed a lane to reach farms strung along the hillside of Longridge Fell on roughly the 150m contour. I’ve often speculated this may be the spring line. Paths and lanes connect these properties and is known to some locals as ‘The Posties Track’. Some of the houses are still honest working farms but more and more are renovated as desirable properties, I must admit they all have superb views over Chipping Vale towards the Bowland Fells. We reentered Longridge on the old railway line that ran along to stone quarries. The gentle walking was no problem but my stiffness made getting over the numerous stiles comical.

*****

BIVI ON LONGRIDGE FELL.

A unique experience.

I’ve been meaning to sleep up on Longridge Fell during this good weather but other things keep getting in the way. Made an effort last night before I disappear off to Scotland and arranging a late evening lift up the road was a great help. So at about 8.45pm I set off on the familiar track to the trig point. A few stragglers were wandering back down to the carpark and they wished me well. A few sheep looked at me strangely. The sun was already low and would go behind the Bowland Fells soon. I wasn’t going to see the sun setting over the sea at this time of year from up here, may have to have a night up on Fairsnape soon for that which would complete my trio of local fell bivis – including Beacon Fell.  [Memo to myself – better sleeping bag, camera as opposed to phone and a tripod.]  By the time I reached the top the sky was changing and the sun disappearing, I sat and watched with the three peaks clear to the east. A kestrel hovered right above me but soon flew off into the gloom leaving nothing but silence.

There was a cool breeze blowing from the north so I decided to go over the wall for a sheltered bivi spot and luckily found an almost level site yards from the trig point. I heard deer barking but none appeared. I was probably asleep by 10 but woke about one feeling decidedly chilly. I had my lightest sleeping bag and no spare clothes so couldn’t do much about it. There is little light pollution up here, a few lights down in Chipping, so the stars were clear, the moon was almost full. The next time I woke, about 4.45am, the sky was colouring over Yorkshire so I sat up and watched the changing display until the sun was fully up, 5.30am.  A lot of misty patches hung in the fields below and there was heavy condensation on my bivy bag suggesting the temperature had dropped considerably in the night. I managed an hour or so fitful sleep before packing up and walking home to the village just as it was coming to life. Another fine summer’s day in prospect highlighted by my night on the fell.

*****

THAT SHORT WALK OUT OF LONGRIDGE – UPDATE.

I was thwarted a few weeks ago on one of my regular local walks by a completely obstructed path.

Well today I followed the same route to see if anything had improved.

I’m not sure if the local authority or the farmer have got round to doing anything but I’m pleased to find the way open. I suspect some local walker/activist, I know a few, has cleared the way – well done. I think that in future with financial constraints placed on local authorities and the ever increasing pressure put on rural societies that we will all have to take things into our own hands to preserve the footpath network.

 

 

 

 

 

I continued on my way back to Longridge on unobstructed and for the most part signed rights of way.

*****

BOWLAND AT ITS BEST.

Looking up past Dunsop Bridge into the heart of Bowland.

14th June 2018. UK weather: Storm Hector batters Britain with winds of up to 100mph.

The above headlines in today’s papers were not encouraging but delving a little deeper and being three brave fellows we arranged a walk. We being ‘the rock man’, JD and myself. The idea was to stay low and leave late morning to avoid the worst of the storm. Leaving late was easily accomplished as the rock man was late anyhow. We parked up near Leagram Estate above Chipping avoiding any overhanging suspect trees. There was no sign of the wind abating.

Entering a windy Leagram Park.

Country lanes were used to weave through the fields bordering the fells. More and more barns have been converted into desirable residences and expensive 4×4’s kept pushing us into the hedgerows. The public road to the remote Burnslack was reached and followed before cutting off on the rougher track across the base of the fells. This is open country and felt wild today with the wind. Lickhurst was the next farm complex with new developments. The tenant, who was one of the last remaining true farmers, apparently has recently died. I had a long conversation with him when I last passed when he was telling me of his plans for retirement, sad news.

Lickhurst Farm.

Moving on we crossed the footbridge and headed up onto limestone pastures. These looked very dry as we’ve had virtually no rain for six weeks. The track down to Dinkling Green was found. JD and I had recollections of vicious dogs chained up here which would suddenly jump out as you passed through the farmyard. None today as the farmsteads have been gentrified. A nice stretch alongside a brook and we arrived at Higher Fence Wood, the farm with all those wooden hen houses.The rooster cockerel was proudly parading in front of his hareem. Free range eggs were advertised for £1.50 a dozen but unfortunately the cupboard was bare.

We were now in limestone country and relying on the rockman’s expert knowledge. There were limestone outcrops and signs of quarrying everywhere. We lunched under a limestone rockface of a long abandoned quarry. There were signs of chalk on the rock from modern-day boulderers.

Our lunch spot.

By now the sun was getting a little stronger but the wind was still bitterly cold. Tracks took us to New Laund Farm above the Inn at Whitewell which can be reached across the Hodder on stepping stones. Today however we stayed high and went into secretive mode for a little trespassing into the woods to locate Fairy Holes Caves. Once found we explored using our phone torches which proved far better than the old flashlight. I saw crinoid fossils which I had missed on previous occasions. The location is recognised as a Bronze Age burial site, probably dating to around 1800 BC.

The Inn at Whitewell.

Forbidden land.

 

We scrambled out onto the public right of way to Fair Oak , this gives some of the best views down into the Hodder Valley in both directions as it crosses a small col. See title picture for view NE. and below for River Hodder and SE to Longridge Fell.

‘Scrambling out’

From here on we wandered past old farmsteads all in a state of modern repair, Delightful residences but all so remote from anywhere. The old bridleway down from Greystoneley was followed over the ford.

Towards the end of the walk I wanted to explore a footpath I’d never used and it turned out perfect. From an old limekiln and quarry we went cross-country, unfortunately missing a crucial footbridge, back into the Leagram Estate. Delightful walking under the Fairsnape Fells with views across to Longridge Fell. The wind was still blowing strong when we reached the car but had detracted little from a grand day out.

My ‘new path’

Fairsnape Fells.

Longridge Fell.

*****

ANOTHER SHORT WALK – LONGRIDGE FELL.

Looking to Bleasdale Fells.

The last time I came up here the ground was the boggiest that I could remember, tonight after what seems like weeks of good weather it was completely different. In fact it is as dry as I  can recall. The walk turned out to be short not like the last one because of an obstructed stile, but from too much summit chatting. The distant Bowland and Yorkshire views were a little hazy. There was very little bird life, a couple of skylarks and a cuckoo in the woods. The bracken was rapidly beginning to thrust up its green shoots. The heather has some way to go. Chipping Vale below looked very fertile with many fields being cut neatly for silage.

My first encounter was with a mountain biker at the summit cairn, conversation started politely but we soon moved on to many shared cycling experiences and adventures. He had a huge knowledge of past bikes but I trumped him with my previous ownership of a 1940’s Baines ‘Flying Gate’ cycle in my teens. An hour must have passed before he shot off down the track just as a local couple arrived at the trig puffing and panting. They are trying to improve on their time from the carpark as well as finding those little painted stones that are appearing everywhere. Talk now turned to the Bowland Fells and tracks so by the time I left there was no time really to complete my intended circuit. I just turned round and trotted back the way I’d come. Actually there was some degree of urgency introduced when I realised I’d left my wallet in full view on the passenger seat. The car and wallet were of course intact when I arrived back.

I should do this walk or its longer variant more often in the summer evenings and there’s no knowing whom I’ll meet and what information will be gleaned.

*****

A SOUTHERN CIRCUIT ON LONGRIDGE FELL.


I’ve been up Longridge Fell three times this week, all from different directions. This lack of originality is partially based on my reluctance to drive far, partly on the weather [torrential rain on alternate days put boggy Fairsnape out of the question] and mainly on my slow re-acquaintance with hilly country. Anyhow it is a great little fell, the most southerly named fell in the UK with the easy to remember 350m height.

Today, Thursday 5th April, was fantastic, you couldn’t have wished for a better Spring like day. Blue skies, no wind and warmish sun [that’s that round yellow thing in the sky]. Of course the paths were still muddy and slippy but that’s par for the course at this time of year in Lancashire. A few groups were out on longer rambles and the dog strollers were making the best of the day.

I parked at Higher Hodder Bridge and  tackled the steep Birdy Brow road head on, One gains height quickly and just past Kemple End the forest track leaves the road zigzagging into the trees. I was already sweating as the morning warmed up. The forest track on a day like this reminded me of walking through Southern Spain on the GR 7 where there is much forest. I was going to say ‘wish I was there now’ but on a day like this you can’t  beat Lancashire. A hidden little path through the trees brings one out at a lovely open viewpoint with the Bowland Fells full on, the frosty Yorkshire peaks off to the East and Chipping Vale at your feet,

Higher on the fell I came across forest workers hand planting thousands of spruce saplings in rough ground that had been felled a couple of years ago. These are disease resistant ones and I will watch their growth over coming years.

Knowing that the track was blocked ahead with fallen trees I again took to smaller paths through the trees some of which are old Scots Pines, an enchanting place. I’ve been known to bivy in this secret place with the bonus of deer wandering past in the night. Further on is the ‘wall path’ leading towards the summit.  Years ago this path was hardly visible but has become more used and hence more boggy, most of the wall that ran alongside it has been now used as infill for the path.

Once out in the open the white trig point was clearly seen ahead with more stunning views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. If I had kept walking down the ridge I would have been home in an hour but I had a circuit to complete so headed south on forest roads, with Pendle Hill dominant ahead above the Ribble Valley, to come out at the road above Crowshaw Quarry where I had a bite to eat in the sunshine.

The bridle way down past Green Gore to Hurst Green is very familiar but I realised I nearly always walk it in the opposite direction. One of my favourite places is Dean Brook as it descends off the fell and through old mill placements at Hurst Green. The bridge there is a great launching pad for poo sticks.

I came out at the Almshouses which somehow were brought down from Kemple End. The Bayley Arms pub seems to be closed so I carried straight across on Smithy Lane through muddy fields and into the grounds of Stoneyhurst College.

I took the private road to Hodder Court where I picked up the popular footpath alongside the Hodder river. This is a roller coaster of a path in the trees above the river as I headed back to  Higher Hodder Bridge. A delight with the fast flowing Hodder below, emerging Wild Garlic under my feet and expectant bird song in the air.

That was 5 hours of my life well spent.

*****

 

FRUSTRATION 3 – NEEDS MUST.

I usually walk across the fields to Gill Bridge on the Loud River.

The River Loud arises up near Beacon Fell and flows ‘loudly’ at first through Chipping Vale and once under Gill Bridge sedately past Gibbon Bridge to join the Hodder at Doeford Bridge. In past geological times this latter flow was westwards, north of Longridge Fell, directly into the Ribble but glacial deposits reversed the flow into the present circuitous route via the Hodder.

My boys at a certain age used to disappear on fishing trips to Gill Bridge and I seem to remember them returning proudly with the smallest trout you’ve ever seen. I never knew where they went or the legality of their pastimes, how times have changed.

Today I took the lanes to avoid any unnecessary rough ground and steep bits. I began to wonder at this choice as cars and large tractor things flashed by me at breakneck speed – what is the hurry these days? They seemed oblivious to the icy stretches on some of the corners.

I just couldn’t resist a walk out today as the weather was perfect;  blue skies, winter sunshine, zero wind and subzero temperatures. Yes I know I would have preferred to be up on Fairsnape Fell which was prominently in the background for the duration of my amble, heading picture. But needs must,  I keep probing at how far I can walk on the flat as there is still an outside chance that I may be able to escape for a few days before Christmas, I have a couple of ideas in my mind for a getaway. I’m not exactly feeding the rat today [ “Feeding the rat is the need to get out, to test yourself, to flush out the system, and, above all, to have some fun.”  Al Alvarez. ]

My probing nearly came unstuck when I slipped on a patch of ice …

… and gave my left hip a painful tweak –  a rest, some heavy breathing as well as heavy cursing got me going again. I limped into the grounds of Ferraris Country House, on a public footpath past the originally named Blackmoss House, and bumped into an old acquaintance who now works here part time as gardener/handyman. We caught up with our respective news’s [what is the plural of news?]. The place was busy with a wedding of a hundred guests, how much has that cost?

Back over the Loud and onto the busy road the tearooms where I buy local produce were closing.

Round the corner was The Derby Arms inn which was busy with pre-Xmas parties. I suppose that these establishments have to make their money when they can to balance out the quieter periods. Its a hard life in this trade nowadays.

Easy walking past the cricket and football grounds, ignoring the awful new development on the edge of town, had me home for an ice pack and pre-supper drink in front of the cozy log-burner. Xmas card writing can wait for another day. Don’t know whether I’ll be able to walk tomorrow.

At least I tried to slay the frustration if not the rat.

 

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR.

I’ve spent a couple of rather fraught days planning and booking up and coming trips and this afternoon I felt the need to break free and walk up the fell. The weather since I’ve returned from France has been atrocious but today there are blue skies in between the showers.

I park up at Cardwell House on Jeffrey Hill. The signpost at the fell gate says ‘concessionary path’ but is clearly marked on the OS map as a public footpath. My mind immediately goes into conspiracy theory mode made worse by the newly erected grouse shooting butts nearby.  Anyhow the path, concessionary or not, leads up the fell. Fields in the Vale of Chipping below are flooded. Ahead clear visibility shows Penyghent and later Ingleborough.

The best of the heather colour has gone and the ground is wet, I’ve seen worse but not necessarily in September. There is a lot of water flowing from the little spring passed on the way.

The air is fresh, north westerly. As I walk up to the trig point views open up in all directions. What a great sense of freedom up here, why don’t I do this every evening? At one time when my resolve was stronger I did.

Walking back down a different way I was pleased with new forest clearings and planting of some deciduous trees making the area more attractive.

The car park on return was quite busy yet I saw no one on the fell, strange. Less than an hour’s stroll but all that fresh air has put me in a far more positive mood. Tomorrow evening…

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.

 

*****

 

FAIRSNAPE FELL.

The phone rang shortly after 7am. It was going to be a very hot day and Dave suggested a walk over Fairsnape, above Chipping, early on. I grabbed a drink and my camwera and we were soon climbing the old track up Saddle Fell with a lovely breeze keeping us cool. I can only surmise that this track was for sledging down peat from the cloughs above. Crossing a fence before the watershed the track has been ‘improved’ with stones and gives a good walking surface to the true summit of Fairsnape, 520m. The last few yards of bog have been paved with slabs though today everything was so dry one could walk anywhere. Taking out my camera to record the summit I found the battery completely flat hence no pictures to accompany this post. The above photo taken later from Longridge Fell shows Parlick and Fairsnape to the left with Saddle Fell central. Below is the village of Chipping and lower right you can see the Steam Fair site which is open all Spring Bank weekend and attracts visitors from far afield.

The walk along the ridge was as dry as I have known it, we cut downhill before the trigpoint. Skylarks were singing and fluttering high above and several pairs of Curlews were flying past with their haunting call. A small brown bird flew up from under my feet and there in the heather was the most perfect round little nest lined with grass and containing four brownish eggs, probably Meadow Pipit. I cursed the lack of my camera.

Skirting round the west side of Parlick we avoided the worst of the steep descent and contoured back under the fells to Saddle End and the car. We were back home for lunch before the hottest part of the day. Only the next day did I discover a tick embedded in my groin which I quickly and cleanly removed with my extracting device. These little menaces seem to be becoming more common in sheep rearing areas and as they have the potential to carry Lymes Disease care should be taken to avoid them. I was asking for trouble walking in shorts.

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – YET AGAIN.

I had no sooner booked a trip to the Canary Islands, to get away from our dismal weather, when the temperature here shot up and the sun was shining. Will it last? Better get out, make the most of it and do a bit of training. Now when I say training I mean go for a short walk. I chose Longridge Fell again as I was hoping for clear views, but which way up?  It is so easy to park up near Cardwell House but I decided to reverse my usual routes for variety. This turned out to be quite different and not entirely successful, for some reason my anti clockwise circuit was strangely unbalanced. I couldn’t really say why – the wrong views, the wrong gradients, the wrong approach.

So what was new today, apart from the sunny weather?  There has been a lot of timber extraction on the fell in the last few years, partly due to the Ramorum fungus and also with maturity. Interestingly I’ve spent a few days recently cutting down a Blue Spruce in my garden. It suddenly lost all its needles a couple of years ago and has not recovered. Spruces are susceptible to the disease and I wonder whether I brought it back from the fell on my boots. The tracks on the fell have been improved to take the heavy machines and lorries involved. They only need to quarry superficially into the fellside to obtain  hardcore for the tracks. I had just passed one of these quarries when I came across a lorry and trailer being loaded with cut timber. It looked a slick operation.

Distant Pendle Hill.

Ready made hardcore quarry.

Smaller tracks took me to the top and the views were clearer than the other day, the Yorkshire Three Peaks were prominent and across Chipping Vale the Bowland Fells distinct. On my way down the ‘balcony’ path I started to meet people coming up from the now busy carpark.

A good 5.5 miles. I was home for lunch.

 

BEACON FELL CIRCUIT.

It was one of those out of body experiences – I was 11years and cycling as fast as I could around the Teesdale lanes getting strong for some time trialing; then I was in my teens touring various parts of Britain with my mates; now I’m 30 and exploring the Trough of Bowland and further afield doing 100 mile days; next I’m 50 and cycling across Europe on endless adventures. Now I’m off my bike and having to walk up a steepish hill onto Beacon Fell. Bugger.

Today’s circuit from home is about the same distance as the Preston Guild Wheel which I’ve been using recently but with HILLS – over a 1000ft of ascent. Your are on your own here.Still the roads are quiet, the sun is shining and I’m wrapped up against the freezing temperatures.

Beacon Fell is a local landmark and popular with strollers and families. It is one of my regular haunts usually walking as previous posts detail. I had forgotten how impregnable it was on a bike. Still the cafe is open all year. Despite the icy roads it was mainly fast downhill from here on the long way round to Chipping under the Fairsnape Fells. There were a few more hills I’d forgotten about!

and then I’m sprinting to the finish on the Champs-Élysées.

***

As an aside I passed several laneside garages long since abandoned, they were a feature of the countryside 50 years ago. They were never open when you needed petrol  on a Sunday afternoon but their skilled mechanics kept the locals cars and tractors on the road. No plug in diagnostics in those days.

 

 

 

 

Simply passing time.

Peaceful Chipping Vale.

BANG – I thought I had been shot!

The morning had been frosty but bright and I was out on my bike for a few miles round the country lanes. Well wrapped up I was enjoying cruising downhill into Longridge when there was this explosion from my back wheel which immediately deflated. Luckily only half a mile to wheel the bike home and investigate the damage. The tyre had a large hole in it as had the inner tube. I realised my tyres were old and perished – hence the explosion. Looking back I should have been more circumspect before setting off as my saddlebag had been turned into a mouse nest whilst I’d been an inactive cyclist. They had chewed up a rag, a chocolate bar and a spare inner tube with its packet in my absence.   Next morning it was down to the bike shop for a couple of new tyres and inner tubes – after the horse has bolted.

Nesting saddle bag.

Nesting saddle bag.

Since I’ve been back from sunny Tenerife it has been bright and cold, but dry, here,  I don’t normally like this time of year and try to go abroad but I must admit the weather is superb for November. Hence the sudden urge to go cycling. Whilst away I managed to violently ‘back heal’ the toilet basin in our small bathroom, no alcohol was involved – well maybe a little the night before. Bruised heals are painful and I haven’t been keen to do much walking. A session at Preston climbing wall proved how unfit I was compared to my mates who have recently returned from Kalymnos. So afternoons have been spent up at CraigYLongridge, the local bouldering crag. I’ve surprised myself being able to have a session or two whilst the thermometer only showed 6C degrees  providing the sun was shining. A few other brave souls have joined me.

A cold Craigy.

A cold Craigy.

So the point of this post, apart from bicycle maintenance, is just to acknowledge how lucky I am to live within 5mins of climbable rock and within a network of Lancashire lanes in Chipping Vale just made for cycling.

Simple.

Longridge Fell – better late than never.

I don’t like to admit to many deadly sins, or virtues for that matter, but SLOTH was on the list today. I hadn’t got round to arranging a walk in the Lakes or in Yorkshire with friends and sloth set in whilst I was having my morning coffee back in bed. One voice said get up and going, the other persuaded me to linger listening to the radio. The morning evaporated whilst the sun shone outside. Something stirred in me and after a quick brunch I was parked up on Longridge Fell. I stopped to take a photo of rubbish dumped in the car park, picked some up later, and noticed the passenger door of the red car next to me was wide open with lots of articles on the front seat. Not daring to touch anything I closed the door and hoped no opportunistic thieves were about.

I have written about Longridge Fell many times, so what was new today?  Some more large chunks of trees have been felled whether because of the Ramorum fungus affecting the Larch or routine forestry work. There are forest roads which give good walking but I can’t come up here without visiting the trig. point, Spire Hill 350m. This diversion involves muddy tracks which today were semi frozen allowing one to break unexpectedly through the crust into the icy depths.  Haziness over the Bowland Fells  and Pendle precluded decent photography. Once I was back on the main forest track I strode out to Kemple End, I don’t normally go this far as it entails road walking back to the car but today I fancied the extra few miles. Sun glasses would have been useful against the low sun in the west. I caught up with a sprightly walker, he had been out all day having caught the bus from Preston and done a circuit of Longridge Fell and the Hodder. At the age of 75 he was out regularly and knew the Bowland area intimately, a true fell wanderer. He obviously declined my offer of a lift into Longridge. Wish I had got his name.DSC00685

At the end of my walk I came through the small bouldering venue of Crowshaw Quarry and I’m itching to get back on some of the problems in Spring. Talking of itching my friend John phoned me last week suggesting a trip back to Gran Canaria where we have unfinished business on the GR13. Needless to say flights are booked.

PS The red car had gone – hope all OK.

Chipping in bloom.

I’ve talked about the village of Chipping several times as I often seem to be passing through. Today I was here again for a short circular field walk that a friend was planning for his walking group. We were impressed by the tidiness of the village and the abundance of colourful floral displays, the village looked reet gradely.

Chipping in bloom.

Chipping in bloom.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the village this morning, but it is worth seeking out the stone-built cottages,  17th century school, churches, almshouses, club row and waterwheel. On the edge of the settlement we left the road and followed an old hawthorn hedge and ditch, all that remain of a Medieval  ‘pale’.

Line of the enclosure.

Line of the pale enclosure.

This was a wooden fenced enclosure for the deer park of Leagram Estate. There is a rare map in the Duchy Of Lancaster archives by a Roger Kenyon from 1608 delineating the park so that its boundary may be traced still. Not only did the pale keep in the deer but also acted as physical statement of privacy and privilege to the common people on the outside. This is thought to be the origin of the phrase ‘beyond the pale

Walking beyond the pale with Longridge Fell in the background.

Walking ‘beyond the pale’ with Longridge Fell in the background.

 We completed our simple circuit with first views to Longridge Fell and then the Fairsnape fells to the north. The route will need a few tweaks before the group use it – apparently they are not keen on too many stiles or boggy ground! There was intermittent rain and sun and the only other point of note was a ‘Zebra’ in a field.The Tour of Britain cycle race, stage 2 on Sept 7th, comes through Chipping and has a circuitous journey on the local lanes to Longridge and beyond. Hence all the yellow bikes, what Yorkshire can do so can we. Should be worth a watch.

A Local Weekend.

Writing this whilst outside is a torrential downpour and distant thunder. The strange summer weather continues. This weekend I’ve managed two contrasting walks.

Saturday. A dull morning but things improved after lunch so I took the opportunity to complete a few more map squares I had signed up to for in the Ramblers ‘Big pathwatch’.

The idea is that every public footpath in England and Wales, all 140,000 miles, should be walked and any problems noted and hopefully duly sorted. I like to do my bit for the local paths around Longridge. No big problems found today – only one electric fence with no safe way through. However it is the height of summer and the height of vegetation is noticeable on lesser walked paths, you certainly need long trousers. So by the end of the walk I had had enough of nettles and brambles, and the Ramblers can’t do anything about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday. After yesterday’s field path navigations I felt the need to be free up on the fells. The morning was warm and sunny with the threat of storms later so I was away relatively early to park above Chipping for my usual Saddle Fell, Fairsnape and Parlick circuit. The path goes through the yard of Saddle Fell Farm and steeply up an old peat collectors track. Several WD numbered marker stones are passed – a reminder that these fells were once a tank and firing range back in the 40’s. Saddle Fell also has a tragic past – on a sunny  Sunday, 25th March 1962, three teenagers, two brothers [11 and 18] and their sister [15] set off from Chipping for a walk over to Langden Valley. The weather changed with low cloud and a snow storm moving in, they soon became disorientated and hypothermic. Somewhere on Saddle Fell the boys sort shelter in some rocks but the girl staggered on to raise the alarm at the farm. Both boys were dead when found the next day and this led directly to the establishment of a mountain rescue team in this area. As I climb the fell I pass an old stone shelter and often wonder if this was the site of the brothers last night.There was a very strong Easterly wind and I virtually ran along the ridge. With some local knowledge this route can be achieved without any serious bog trotting. The air was warm and the haze hid any distant views but you do experience a strong sense of wilderness and space up here. Today I was really only interested in putting some miles below my mountain boots and a quick 1000ft of climbing as part of getting a bit fitter for a forthcoming trip in the Austrian Alps. A few pairs of grouse startled me as they flew out of the heather, so they haven’t all been shot since the ‘glorious‘ 12th. Strangely for such a sunny morning there was virtually nobody on the fells and the wind was too strong for the parapenters and gliders. Although I did witness the strange sight of a group carrying the model planes up to fly – it looked as though they were carrying crosses up to Calvary.

I was back at the car in under two hours and will return for some more training with a heavy rucksack next time.

All along the hedgerows.

Daft or apt title for a cycle ride?

Having just returned from the heat of France I find that it’s hot here too. Great. I’m out early on the hottest day of the year creating my own breeze on the bike. Just the usual lanes around Chipping but as I ride I’m struck by the abundance of flowers in the hedgerows. So out comes the camera. Wild roses and honeysuckle. Brambles. Ragged Robin. Elderflower. Foxgloves. Cow Parsley.

A splendid show as I cycled past. I seem to remember a way of working out the age of a hedge – the number of different species of trees/shrubs in 30yards x 100. Not sure if this works but we do have some historic hedgerows in England. That’s if they are not stone walls as in the Pennines.

I was using small ‘quiet’ lanes but was it was evident that the van and car drivers didn’t share the same view. So different to France where a cyclist is given some respect, as I’ve recently experienced.  Over a hundred cyclists are killed in a year in the UK and many more seriously injured. I admit a majority of these are in urban areas but I didn’t feel particularly safe today.

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/pedal-cyclists/facts-figures/

To diverse I wandered off route and found myself at The Horns Inn, an 18th century pub, although originally a farm. They are renowned for their Goosnargh Duck menus and their micro brewery. The bar is unique as is the old gents urinal  [?architecturally listed]  across the road – seen on the right of the picture.Another on the whim diversion took me down Ford Lane and across the low stream. It can become dangerous after heavy rain as the height marker shows – I shudder to imagine such a deluge. There is a footbridge!

ARE BLISTERS PSYCHOLOGICAL?

Strange day really, a good friend called in late morning and after coffee we decided on a walk up Longridge Fell. Whilst putting on my boots in the porch I recounted how I last year I unexpectedly developed a blister on my toe despite having walked for miles in these admittingly  cheap boots. He replied that his more expensive well worn in Meindl boots never gave a problem.

Off we went up the fell in a cold Arctic wind, hail storms were blowing in across Chipping Vale and the Yorkshire peaks looked alpine from here, not that you can see them in this photo.

Snow showers across Bowland.

Snow showers across Bowland.

Within 20 mins –  ‘Just need to check a sore spot on my foot’  spoke the Rockman. Why?  When he  removed his boot there was a large sore blister on his heel.   Despite my usual systematic preparations I had no first aid kit in my sack. However being an ex scout he had some tape on his poles. Boots off , tape on, boots on. There was no obvious reason for his blister apart from the curse I must have put upon him by our earlier discussion.

A good few miles were then explored through the forest, A bit of fitness for me before a longish walk and for the unlucky Rockman something to reflect upon –  are blisters psychological?

PS. Nepal needs all the help we can give following the disastrous earthquake. 

Why don’t you donate now at       http://www.dec.org.uk

USING MY BUS PASS.

Windswept Parlick.

This last week I was thwarted on my planned two day walk because I couldn’t face paying  a pub £60 B&B!  Anyway the weather was not brilliant.

I’ve had some recent conversation with Conrad, he of the long walks, over the miles one drives in relation to actual walking distance. [we used a lot of public transport on our recent Cheshire Ring Walk]  I’ve been guilty in the past of driving long distances to accomplish a relatively small walk. Whilst I was ‘Munroing’ this was often a problem with a mad dash up North in the car at a weekend. I partially overcame this by stringing together hills on long backpacking trips, having travelled there by rail. At the time [1978] I had just read Hamish Brown’s book on his continuous journey and was enthused to do likewise on a smaller scale.

I hate to think of the air miles I’ve covered to reach my backpacking jaunts on the continent, again I’ve mitigated those somewhat more recently by using the eurorail network when possible. Rock climbing trips usually meant a lot of [shared] driving. Looking back I could have used public transport far more. No one is perfect.

I’m lucky to be able to walk from my house into the Bowland area and now use my car as little as possible locally. As Saturday afternoon proved to be fairly bright and dry I  set off to walk through the fields to Chipping. Time was short so I did a linear walk and then caught the bus back. This made for an enjoyable few hours with time for a coffee in The Cobbled Corner Cafe in Chipping whilst waiting for the bus, money into the local economy. Of course the bus pass comes in handy, must use it more often!

Nothing much happened on the walk. A couple of Buzzards were watched for some time. I’ve avoided the cliched photos of frisking lambs and sparkling snowdrops. Instead there is a strange green corrugated shed, a rotting ?Bedford truck and a farmer’s unsightly silage pile.

BLOWN AWAY.

               A post about nothing but the need to get out, exercise and enjoy one’s locality.We are just on the edge of the severe gales this weekend but nonetheless it’s hardly fit to be out. Previously I would have headed to the warmth of the climbing wall, but being wary of the associated big toe pain I ventured outdoors for my afternoon exercise. For some perverse reason I chose an exposed Longridge Fell circuit, mainly for the dry road walking. I only had my phone with me for pictures. The little reservoir at the top of the village resembled the mid Atlantic.

The wind blew me up the fell road in no time and I couldn’t resist a diversion to visit the trig point. The Vale of Chipping below was flooded in many areas, sunlight came and went as the clouds blew rapidly through.

Despite being back on the road progress was slow against the 30-40 mph gale coming straight at me, would not have liked to be any higher. A passing motorist even stopped to enquire whether I needed Help.  A forest area next to the road has been cleared of trees since I was last up here and was almost unrecognisable, the previously hidden ‘Sweden’ quarry, a large hole, was now laid bare on the hillside. There used to be some bouldering here but the rock reverted to vegetation through lack of traffic, maybe things could change.

The golf course was deserted, with the flags straining on the greens. This must be one of the most exposed golf courses in the country, running along the fell top.

In fact I saw only one other person, he was running around the road circuit. He is well know for running in his bare feet and true to form despite the cold and wet was not wearing shoes today!!!  I have hidden his identity / insanity on the photo.

Felt a touch of insanity myself as I battled against the wind and cold towards home, a welcome bath and the last of the mince pies. Probably do something similar tomorrow.