Tag Archives: Climbing



Following on from the unexpected meeting with Bruno the other day I had a surprise of a different sort today.

The approaching storm Babet seems to be passing us by. Yes it is windy, but the rain forecast has gone elsewhere leaving a sunny morning. A good opportunity to get up to Dunsop Bridge and have a better look at The Trough of Bowland Quarry which I’m supposed to be assessing for an upcoming new guide book to Lancashire climbing. I had a brief look in back at the end of July, but there were Peregrines about and the high bracken made exploration impossible.

The roads are quiet, and I enjoy the ride out through the Hodder valley and into the jaws of the Trough road. The quarry is hidden away just before the road starts its winding ascent.  It’s late morning when I park up under the old Sykes Lead mine and the roadside Lime Kiln. The quarry faces west so should be sheltered from the easterly wind. A regular procession of motorcyclists pass me as I walk up the road to the gate.

A faint path leads into the quarry, all is peaceful and yes I’m out of the wind below the 70-foot wall of limestone. I have brought my extra long rope, so I should be able to abseil to the ground on it doubled. The bracken is dying back, and I can make my way up the right-hand side. It is steep, and I’m out of puff by the time I’m at the top. I’m concerned about where I can abseil from, the ground slopes steeply down to the top rim of the rock. I seem to remember from years ago trees above the main part but some of these have gone, and I’m limited to the far right side of the quarry. Being extra careful on the steep slope a solid birch tree is selected well away from the edge and using a sling around it I am able to anchor my rope. Gingerly I lower myself to the edge and peer over, my double rope makes the ground when I toss it down, that’s a relief. I should have had a photo looking down for those of you with a tender disposition.

I start to lower carefully as the top rocks are loose in . Before I toss any loose stuff down I bring my ropes back up out of the way, not wanting them damaged by falling rocks. One of the climbs here is called Guillotine, on the first ascent a dislodged rock cut through the climbers rope – not what you want to happen. I am starting to enjoy myself and the rock is generally sound. There is some good climbing here. I clear away a few saplings from some of the ledges as I come down, but this is just a preliminary inspection before deciding whether it would be worth the effort of a proper clean – yes we climbers are a bit obsessed. After some lunch I will go back up and have a closer look. On the photo, if you enlarge it, you can see my rope coming down just right of centre.

As I am reaching the bottom I hear vehicles ascending a track on the fell on the opposite side of the road from the quarry. Strange. I thought I had heard voices up above me a little while earlier. Was I going to get challenged as to my right to be in there in the first place? By now there is a quite a crowd gathering across the way, and worryingly they all are carrying guns. The penny drops, and I realise I’m in the middle of a shoot. The beaters are coming across the fell above me and the guns are waiting to fire at whatever prey they are after, hopefully not me in the middle.

Time to get out of the firing line, I don’t know whether they can see me. Pull the rope down quickly, but no it keeps jamming. No shooting yet. Eventually I can just shove the rope into my sac and set off to walk out. They can see me now. I can vaguely hear them discussing me and expect a reprimand when I reach the road. But no they all seem friendly and wonder what I was doing in there, I apologise for getting in the way, but they don’t seem concerned as they are now banging away at birds flying over them. It gets very noisy. I try to take a video of the commotion, but it is difficult to anticipate when the birds will appear and the firings start.

Back at the car, now surrounded by 4X4s.  I talk to a man involved with the shoot – he is actually the caterer for their slap-up meal later. He tells me they are partridges and this is a sporting shoot as they fly so fast. Maybe only one in ten bite the dust, as opposed to grouse shooting when every two or three are shot. The shoot releases over three thousand partridges on this fell alone every year for the ‘sport’ – can you believe it. I bite my lip, I’m not as strong protestor as Greta Thunberg and I feel intimidated by all the guns. I do try to get a gentle dig in about whether they are still using lead shot, he is evasive with his answer and explains that most aren’t for consumption as there is little meat on them!

So it’s all for fun, as if I didn’t know it.

I’ll stick to enjoying the countryside in my own way and will be back in the quarry another day, but perhaps not on a Wednesday.



I had arranged to meet Rod for a few climbs up at Kemple End, the quarry at the far end of Longridge Fell. Originally I had suggested it to him as a good option for afternoon shade in our mini heatwave last week. That didn’t seem to work out, so we found ourselves up there this morning instead – a good option for morning sun.

Autumn was in the air and the grass had a heavy dew, but the bracken was dying back which made access along the quarry rim somewhat easier. We backed up the top belays on the way in and scrambled down to the base. The rock was in perfect condition despite recent rain. 

I have been asked to rewrite the section on Kemple for the up-and-coming, maybe in a couple of years, latest Lancashire climbing  guide book. (On my bookshelves I have about five or six previous editions going back decades, all a little dog-eared) Hence, I was wanting Rod to re-climb a few routes to get an overall grade consensus, particularly where there has been some recent rock re-arrangements. Another climber’assessment can clarify your own jaundiced view.

I thought Rod’s sack looked rather small, I’d brought the rope and gear, and sure enough when he delved into it no rock shoes or harness came out. Probably on the kitchen table back home, it’s easily done. No problem I contrived a makeshift harness, and he thought he could manage in his stiff hiking boots. After all we had started our climbing days in ordinary boots, dedicated rock shoes had only just started to appear on the market, from France originally. My climbing shoes would most likely not have fit anyhow.

The first climb, Ribbled, went well, even I managed it with my dodgy ligaments confirming its easyish HVD grade. Birdy Brow has lost its flake and is no longer feasible, so we put a rope down Bird on the Wing, its replacement. This has a few reachy starting moves made worse by Rod’s boots, but he persevered and got up thinking it about VS 4c.

We sit and have a break in the sun, an owl is hooting somewhere in the hidden quarry bowl. There is the hum of bees around the brambles and heather. All very peaceful. All part of the climbing day.

Then over to Great Expectations, one of my favourites here. Another steep start brings you to a shallow sloping ledge in the middle of the wall, use this to somehow make farther progress. It wasn’t to be today. Rod’s boots skidding on the blank wall where rock boots would have just smeared. A potentially good day’s climbing marred by the wrong boots.

                             Not so ‘Great Expectations’ in big boots.


A nostalgic, even indulgent, look back at all those routes of old.

I used to climb in the gritstone Wilton Quarries, there are four of them above Bolton, regularly in the 80s and 90s, my climbing mates living in that area. We would drive down after work to tackle some of the classics. Our standard was for repeating the routes done back in the 60s and 70s, generally up to E1, but the quarries were buzzing with local experts climbing, often soloing, the more modern test pieces. After a midgy exit we would retire to one of the local pubs, Black Dog or Bob’s Smithy, for a pint or two to chew over the evening’s activities and plan for the next week. Wonderful care free days with like-minded individuals.

Well the Wilton devotees along with the BMC have for the last ten years hosted an annual festival of Lancashire quarry climbing to invigorate and perpetuate our unique climbing culture. The Wilton Fest.

I was always out in France for September at my friends’ house in the Lot Valley, a lovely place and a lovely time of year, so I had never attended the Wilton Fest. Unfortunately the house has now been sold, and I’m left in the UK at this time of year.  The upturn of this is that today I was free to drive down to Bolton and join in the fun. 

I have never seen as many cars parked up in the quarries and on the busy road alongside them, hope nobody gets a ticket. The good weather is a blessing to the hard-working organisers.

I drop down first into Wilton One, the largest of the quarries. Only the early risers are climbing. The prow is a unique feature of this quarry, left standing for whatever reason by the labourers. Inside is sunny and dry whilst the outer face looks forbidding as always. A couple of blokes, of my vintage, climb Rambling  Route a pleasant VD, whilst a younger couple tackle the impressive Christeena up the edge of the prow. I am beginning to wish I had brought my camera rather than relying on the phone which can’t cope with the contrasting light and has let me down today.

There is nobody climbing on the outside of the prow which I was hoping for Cameo, Flingle Blunt, Fingernail etc. Don’t ask me where some of these names come from. Nor was there anybody on the big lines farther left – Loopy, Wombat, Central Route. There were later in the day, apparently. I did however watch a pair on Leucocyte Right Hand. I remember the moves up at the start were bold towards a high prominent quarryman’s ironwork, but today’s climbers are able to place a camming device into one of the shotholes lower down, if only that had been my option 40 years ago. 

I move on past climbers on regular routes of old – Virgin’s Dilemma, don’t ask, and 999. 

I start climbing out of the quarry only to meet a friend from 30 years ago. He and his son are heading down into One to witness the 60th anniversary repeat of another classic, Black Out. There is promise of a good crowd and drone footage. The crowd is of a certain vintage and I recognise many old faces. Eventually Ian Lonsdale introduces the original protagonists,  Ray Evans and John Nuttall. (the truth is that they were led up the route in 1963 by a Dave Brodigan, so a lady from that era sat next to us expounds) Let’s just ignore some of the detailed history, and nobody blacked out on the climb. Ray climbs elegantly up the groove with little protection, the pegs are long gone, before the delicate moves left along ledges to the original belay of pitch one. John joins him and leads through the groove above. A masterful display from these pensioners. 

I eventually find myself up in Wilton Two where all the trade stands and facilities are. Only to be greeted by “geriatrics are not allowed here” from another old Longridge colleague. I obviously ignore him, and we proceed to where there is free flowing coffee.

After lots of chats and meetings up I make my way over to Wilton Three. (What you see in there are the ranges and huts of a gun club which shares access with the climbers.) This was possibly our favourite evening venue in the past. Lots of accessible routes of quality in our grade range. I’m eager to see someone climbing Shivers Arête, and just as I arrive there is a climber on the crux moves near the top. When we did it there was a rusty peg in a crack for illusionary protection. That has gone and now there is a bolt in its place – controversial in many climbers’ ethics. 

Times have changed and now there are as many boulderers as roped climbers. They seek out the hardest technical problems without hardly leaving the ground, or at least not a few feet above. I admire their sport. They are the recognisable turtles with bouldering mats on their backs.

Back to Wilton Two and another coffee. Crusher Holds is there, along with his young family, on his trade stand. His children have their own little shop, so I purchase some wooden toys to enrich their day. (The cars are only allowed in for this special day)  .

My dodgy hip, that is preventing me climbing, has had enough of scrambling between venues. Time to go home. It has been good to catch up with friends, and I was impressed by the number of climbers all enjoying themselves. It has been estimated that 500 attended. I should have stayed for the talk to be given by Johnny Dawes, the original ‘Stone Monkey’. 


I’m enjoying a lunchtime pint of Tetley Bitter in the Craven Heifer in Stainforth. The last time I was here was at the end of February 2020 when I stayed a night mid-walk.  “It was Chinese New Year, and they were fully booked in the restaurant for a Chinese Banquet, but the chef was able to cook a fish and chip supper for me before festivities commenced.” There was talk in the bar of a new virulent virus spreading in China. We all know what happened next.

Hopefully the virus is now behind us, and it is good to be walking in Limestone Country. The barman says the pub closed during lockdown and only reopened under new managers last year. It is still owned by Thwaites, the present landlord has a five-year lease but grumbles that trade hasn’t really picked up. One problem is that the village is becoming dominated by holiday cottages, not many locals left, and the cottages are only occupied less than half the time. Who would want to run a pub in these cash strapped days?    I finish my pint and bid them good day.

I’m halfway on a short walk mainly devised to explore the Craven Lime Works. It was only recently that I was made aware of this Industrial Heritage site on the delightful Walking Away  site. I must have walked and driven past dozens of times without realising its existence.

There is further information from these two sites.

 Visit Settle – Craven Lime Works & Hoffman Kiln “Without doubt the centrepiece is the huge Hoffmann Kiln. Built in 1873 it is a huge industrial scale lime kiln” 

and more thoroughly  Craven and Murgatroyd lime works 400m north east of Langcliffe Mill, Langcliffe – 1020888 | Historic England

Good, that’s saved me trying to interpret and explain everything.

There is no signage off the road north of Langcliffe, but Hoffman Kiln Road  sounds promising, it leads to a large new purpose built office and light industrial complex in the grounds of the former lime works. A lot of money has been spent by Craven District Council with help from European cash – we are going to miss that. I only hope this is a successful enterprise as at the moment the majority of the units are standing empty.

The almost hidden car park for the Industrial Heritage site is impressively large even with electric charging points. It is situated directly below the massive old quarry on the hillside that supplied all the limestone for the kilns. We used to climb up there in the distant past, I think that is discouraged now. Today I am the only car parked on the site.

I wander into the ‘preserved’ site, the interpretation boards are very good. This has been a vast industrial complex  – limestone from the quarries, converted in coal-fired kilns to lime which was transported off site by the integrated railway. As well as the kilns there are so many other associated ruins to see – inclines, winding houses. weigh bridges, water courses, tunnels, old rails, tram ways, spoil heaps.  The operation lasted from the mid C19th to the 1940s.

1907 OS map.

First I look at the remains of the buttressed bases of a pair of massive vertical Spencer steel kilns. Difficult to visualise the scale of this operation that provided purer lime from the beginning of the C20th.

Back round onto the quarry floor and a dilapidated weigh house.

And then along to the Hoffman Kiln – wow it’s massive, think football pitch. In I go, you don’t need a torch as the frequent limestone inlet arches give enough light, in fact a magic image. I’m enthralled. There are the vent  holes for the smoke up to the now demolished central chimney; there are the holes in the roof for the coal inlets; there are the ageing firebricks; there are the miniature stalactites from the slow seepage over the years. Are there bats or giant spiders in here? I walk around the massive kiln twice, and even think about a third, this is so atmospheric.

At the far end is a tunnel which accommodated a line bringing stone from the quarry above. A waterway used for counterbalancing a crane lower down delivering fuel into the kiln from the roof. Ingenuity far beyond our present engineers involved in the HS2 going above budget from week to week. They can’t even sort out the Euston terminus after 10 years, money down the drain, revised plans costing another £5bn!  How many cycle lanes could you build for that amount of money.

The only part of the complex that wasn’t viable was the separate Murgatroyd quarry and overhead triple kiln next to the railway at the northern end of the site. A smaller scale operation which collapsed in 1887. Today I couldn’t make out the tops of the three kilns for the abundant vegetation, I realise now I should have dropped down to see the lower outlet of the kilns.

Industrial history satisfied I walk through the fields up to Stainforth and my pint. I come back, not on the familiar riverside path but on a higher way through Stainforth Scar. Gently climbing out of the meadows into the trees on the scar and emerging on the limestone plateau. The way ahead is etched into the fields, signs of an ancient passage way to Winskill Farm. 1675 says the date stone with the initials NBCB. What history could these walls tell. It is surrounded by what look like traditional meadows with a variety of flowers and butterflies.

From up here looking back over my right shoulder is the prominent Smearsett Scar and distant Ingleborough. Over my left shoulder Pen-y-ghent has suddenly appeared quite close by.

There are some tempting ways leading to Attermire Scar from here, but I’m only looking for a short day. My path is clear through stiles in the extensive network of fields and old lanes. The view is down the shallow valley with its patchwork of fields to Langcliffe. That’s where I was planning to head, part of Wainwright’s Pennine Journey, until I spot a vague path/sheep trod going between a wall and the Langcliffe Quarry, now alongside. Will it take me on a shortcut?  I said I was looking for a short day especially after that pint. Worth a try and yes it brings me out into the Lime Works without any serious obstruction, but don’t necessarily follow me on any of these walks. Mine was still the only car in the car park.

I would highly recommend a visit to the Craven Lime Works with or without a walk.



I opted out of climbing with M during that hot spell. But today was perfect, sunny and warm with a breeze keeping things pleasant and the midges away.

Spent most of the time sitting relaxed in the grass holding his ropes as he attempted some more new lines at Crag X (or is it Y?) – they are getting progressively harder as we explore further. I’m not actually doing any climbing, bad elbow being the latest excuse, but my advice from below is becoming more vocal if not of any great practical value.

How is this for a crack line? We couldn’t do it, notice the use of the royal we.

This was easier Bilberry Jam. VS 4c.

The temperature rose as the afternoon wore on, but we were done by then. Time for a retreat and fish and chips. A cracking perfect day.



If I look back, I do that too much these days, I climbed all the routes in this delightful Bowland limestone quarry way back in the 70s and 80s. That is when I was climbing nearly every day. The routes were scary for the grades, slopey holds, not much gear and loose topouts. All very adventurous – my style of climbing. Our post climbing pints were taken in the Inn at Whitewell, they put up with us back then, I’m not so sure if they would now.

I looked into the quarry whilst passing on a walk a couple of years ago. Apart from a few more trees it didn’t seem much different. I took a blurry phone picture, I remember that my camera proper had  packed up earlier that day up on Whins Brow.

In a mad moment a few nights ago I volunteered to help write up this quarry for the upcoming new Lancashire Rock Climbing Guide Book. Today I took a ride out to assess the task.  UKC Logbook – Trough of Bowland Quarry (ukclimbing.com)

I found a small space to park right next to the metal gate giving access to the track which heads into the quarry above Losterdale Brook. Not many people have been this way recently. It was just after lunch and the sun was coming round onto the face. The cliff was higher than I remember as I sat and traced the routes up it. Some really good-looking lines. Compact limestone with ramps running across it in places, lines of weakness when climbing. Trees growing on ledges. It is all steeper than it first appears. Areas of white crystalline rock embedded in the limestone, must ask The Rockman what they are. I could see the loose rock at the very top where your heart was beating in your chest as you pulled as carefully as possible to reach the safety of some tree roots. Looking again some of those summit trees seem to have expired, that could make setting up an abseil more difficult. I’ll worry about that next time when I bring a rope.

I couldn’t remember which side of the crag we walked off. Today the forest of head high bracken made investigation more difficult. The left side was rather exposed, and I was very much aware of my presence alone here, I retreated. The right-hand side was easier, despite the bracken, and the top was reached. There are some sturdy trees up there but not in the centre of the crag. As I said I’ll worry about that next time.

From up here I looked out over the valley to the Bowland Hills surrounding The Trough. Down below is an old limekiln – probably the raison d’être for this quarry. Limestone being converted to lime for the land and early mortar. But directly across on the other side were signs of mining, a cave/adit and spoil screes. I must scramble up to that cave one day. What mineral were they looking for? I have just found this useful resource which points to it being lead.  Sykes – Northern Mine Research Society (nmrs.org.uk) A mine of information if you will excuse the pun. This page also talks of a mine being driven on the east side of the valley probably under where I was standing. Thinking about it, I suppose there was a clue down the road at Smelt Mill Cottage, home of the Bowland mountain rescue team.

It was then that I heard the crying of a Peregrine falcon. I couldn’t see it, but I was concerned I could be disturbing its nesting site. I retreated once again to the quarry floor. Scanning the crag more carefully I spotted the pile of sticks on a ledge which is typical of a Peregrine’s nest. Normally the young fledge in early July. I shouldn’t be here, I leave as soon as possible, let’s give them another couple of weeks or so.

I couldn’t resist stopping at Burholme Bridge on the drive home for that classic view along the River Hodder into the heart of Bowland.

I’m left wondering about the quarry  – have I bitten off more than I can chew? Think I will need some help and encouragement.


It is a month since I have done a ‘long walk’. Health issues combined with all that heat kept me in doors. I’ve only managed a few walks of a couple of miles or so, enjoyable nonetheless in their own rights. Tomorrow I hope to take up the cudgel of another possibly strenuous Cicerone’s Lancashire walk. So I had better have a gentle warmer up to get my legs back into shape.

From my header photo you can see that the hawthorn flower has given way to the elderberry.

Juggling with the weather I need to get going before the afternoon rain comes in, our gardens need it. (it never arrived)

Let’s keep it simple and walk up the lanes from the village onto Longridge Fell. I’m only out for the exercise after all. Park at the little reservoir, Upper Dilworth, stop to watch the female tufted duck with her brood and then a brisk walk-up past the golf course onto Jeffery Hill. I can’t resist a look into Cardwell Quarry to see if the barn owl is still there. A couple of weeks ago I looked in and took a hurried photo of the roost which showed up the owl’s legs but nothing more! Today nothing at all. I sat for a while taking in the view over Chipping Vale and remembering all those summer evenings climbing up here with Longridge mates. It’s banned now due to some unfortunate contretemps between the landowner and some selfish youths. It doesn’t take much to destroy all the goodwill built up in the past.

Two weeks ago – spot the legs.

Close by here the Roman Road was thought to have come up from Ribchester before a turn to head through the hills towards Newton, and then over to Lancaster. It is marked on the OS map, and today I can make out the line of it just below the modern road.

Surprisingly there is only one car parked up on Jeffrey Hill where the walk-up onto Longridge Fell starts. I never meet the occupants. Taking the ‘balcony path’ along to the spring and then heading towards the ridge, it is bone dry. I am tempted to carry on up to the trig point, but sense tells me to go easy and besides I can see rain coming in across the Fylde Coast. Back down alongside the wall, past the ‘grim up north’ tree. 

Straight across and alongside the upper trees of Cowley Brook Plantation. This plantation is becoming a favourite of mine for an evening stroll, and today I cut down through it meeting up with the brook where it disappears under the road.

This road takes me eventually, there are lots of ups and downs, back to the village, passing the lower side of the manicured golf course this time.

Job done, now let’s see what the forecast is for tomorrow.



I was deterred by these signs on what I thought was a right of way the other day. I didn’t have a map at hand, so I opted out and walked up the lane. There is a hidden side to Hurst Green, large expensive properties guarding their privacy, but public footpaths shouldn’t be lost or walkers intimidated. Officially all Public Footpaths should be signed where they leave a public highway but speaking to officers on the Local Authority these signs regularly disappear.

The morning’s heavy rain has passed, and I’m back armed with the latest 1:25,000 map and approach from the other end near the old bobbin mill on Dean Brook. There are predictably no waymarkers, but the start of the path is clear above the Brook. I walk past properties that were probably mill workers’ cottages in the past and soon come out onto the lane, The Dean, which drops from the village crossing the brook and climbs back into the countryside. Curiosity satisfied I’m on my way.

The quiet road heads upwards with views over the Ribble Valley opening up to the south. I know there is a path somewhere leaving it to climb Doe Hill , but I can’t find it initially in the heavy vegetation. Is that it, hidden away?

The Ribble Valley.

There is a stile in there somewhere.

Once into the field I can see the trig point, Doe Hill, one I’ve never knowingly visited before, a short distance away. More interesting is the nearby clump of beech trees, maybe 30 or 40, all growing as one. How long have they been here – a couple of hundred years or more? There is a vestige of a wall enclosing them, who planted them and why? A magic place, I half expect a troupe of fairies to be dancing around., it is  the summer solstice after all. Whatever it is a good viewpoint – Longridge Fell, Pendle and the Ribble Valley.

I pick my way across fields full of buttercups, finding stiles in the appropriate places and come back out onto the lane heading to Greengore, a C16th hunting lodge for the Shireburn family, which I’ve photographed many times before. There appears to be some building work going on at an adjacent barn, let’s hope it doesn’t distract from the Grade II listed Greengore property.

I knew of the sturdy bench at the junction of lanes and was glad to sit for some refreshment, it was still a very muggy day. The lane dropping to Dean Brook, yes the same one, is bordered by hedges full of roses and honeysuckle, with foxgloves pushing through the bracken.

Crossing the bridge I am reminded of bringing my children and then my grandchildren here for the simple pleasure of ‘pooh sticks’. Even today I can’t resist dropping a stick upstream and watching it emerge farther down.

Hidden away just off the track is Sand Rock, all that remains of a large sandstone quarry  used in the construction of Hurst Green Itself. I divert here to see if my lost favourite orange cap is anywhere to be found, I last had it on when I came looking in here at the rock face a few days ago. Some lower boulder problems are chalked up, evidence of recent interest. We climbed a route up the middle of the quarried face, Vanilla Slice E2 5c, in 2002, it looks impossible to me now. No sign of my cap.

Onwards alonside the brook cascading down the soft sandstone rocks which have been smoothed into  beautiful curves over the ages. Plainly visible today are the remnants of the dam footings and ongoing leat supplying the bobbin mill farther down valley (where I started my walk today).


I’m back at my car after this short, 2.5 mile, but interesting exploratory walk. The black clouds have blown away, and the sun is beginning to come out. I have another site I want to look at, the Stonyhurst Roman Catholic cemetery just up the road. I’ve always been fascinated by the mausoleum type chapel visible through the railings from the roadside, but never visited. Going through the gates into the cemetery one is immediately drawn to a white statue of Christ with Pendle as a backdrop. The cemetery is laid out with mature coniferous trees forming stately corridors between the many vaulted graves. The Mortuary Chapel is dated from 1825, but I can’t find out if it is dedicated to any particular family. Does anybody know more details?

Detail from a window.

Through a window, showing it to be a chapel rather than a mausoleum.



                                                                      Catlow Fell and Bowland Knotts.


Mark Sutcliffe’s Chapter 4.  Bowland Knotts and Cross of Greet.

Driving the lanes to Slaidburn once more and this time taking the continuation towards the Tatham Fells to park at the Cross of Greet Bridge, deep in Bowland. The last time I started a walk from here along the River Hodder, November 2020, the whole area was waterlogged and virtually impassable.  I am hoping for better conditions today after a few dry days. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend, yet I’m the only car parked up by the river.

I skip across the marshy area and have no problem fording the stream this time. The walk-up to the isolated barn goes well. A barn owl is disturbed as I peep inside, it flies off, and the chicks go quiet. I don’t hang about. Outside was a rusting lime spreader manufactured locally in Clitheroe ? Vintage 1960.

The infant Hodder.

Kearsden Brook ford.

The Hodder gathering pace.

The barn.

Abode of owls.

Atkinson Spreader, Clitheroe.

The way onto Pike Side is rather vague, and I end up following sheep tracks and even sheep. I realise that somewhere I have gone wrong arriving at an old lime kiln next to the wall, SD 725591. There are shake holes marked on the map, so there must be underlying limestone near about. With a bit of rough ground I regain the route by the gate, SD 723593. There are the ruins of an old barn here, and I follow the straight access track all the way to the road at Bowland Knotts, although at times it disappears underwater.

Sheep track.

Limekiln  SD 725591. 

Gateway. SD 723593.

To the road at Bowland Knotts.

There are craggy outcrops either side of the road and some are suitable for bouldering.  I find a seat not far off the road for lunch with Ingleborough in full view.

Roadside bouldering in Yorkshire.

Roadside bouldering in Lancashire.

Peggy and John Phillips seat.

Tracks follow the wall westwards towards a trig point, 430 m,the highest point of the Bowland Knotts also recorded as Crutchenber Fell, a ladder stile crosses to it. This is a rough tramp, but there are good, if hazy, vistas into Yorkshire, Stocks Reservoir, Pendle and the Bowland Hills.

Crossing to Crutchenber Fell.

Trig 430 m.

Bowland Knotts.

I stay on the south side of the wall for the undulating mile to the next feature, Cold Stone Crag. There is a path of sorts. There is climbing on this remote crag, but I doubt if many come this far, you might as well boulder back at the road. On one occasion I made the boggy walk in to photograph the crag for a new guidebook, only to arrive after the sun had moved round. The process was repeated the next day at an earlier hour. From up here the whole of the Pendleside panorama is visible.

Forever onwards alongside the wall and a gentle climb up to a height of  486 m, no cairn denotes the ‘summit’. The miles are long up here. An undecipherable boundary stone is encountered. The maps vary on the name of the hill – Great Harlow, Hailshowers Fell, Raven Castle or perhaps Catlow Fell.

Catlow or Hailshowers Fell.

Boundary Stone – Lancs/Yorks.

Ravens Castle stones?

A little farther and a fence line leads me down to the road at the Cross of Greet. By the cattle grid is a large stone with a shallow square hole in the top. It stands at the Lune/Ribble watershed. formally the Lancs/Yorks border and may have had in the past a stone cross inserted into it.  Or was it a plague stone? nobody knows. I think it’s more likely to have been a cross at an important passage through these remote hills. 

I chat to some cyclists riding the classic round from Slaidburn. Up to the Cross of Greet, over Tatham Fell past the Great Stone, maybe a brew at Bentham or Clapham and then back over Bowland Knotts, through Gisburn Forest to Slaidburn. I did it once with my mate Tone, never to be forgotten.

Down the road for 800 m then follow one of the faint paths down to the stream”  Well I’m not sure about the 800 m, and I don’t find any obvious paths. It will be even worse once the all encompassing bracken has grown. But I do find myself down at the Hodder, not the magnificent river it will later become, and hop over to the other side.

A slight climb and I am on the brink of an abandoned quarry. Stone from here was transported by rail to build the dam of Stocks Reservoir as the valley was slowly flooded in the 1930s for the Fylde Waterboard. Only the church was saved, stone by stone and rebuilt on higher ground. There is lots of archive material online.  The quarry is atmospheric particularly with the surviving, but rusting dinosaur of a steam crane.

At the edge of the quarry is the base of the Far Costy Clough, a worthwhile scramble up onto White Fell I’m lead to believe. Yet another one to add to my list. Another day.

I’m content to just to follow the old rails  out of the quarry back to the  Cross of Greet Bridge. Another longish day out in Bowland.





We are back at our secret crag, the sun is shining and all’s well. The day passes, and four new climbs are accomplished. All on beautiful clean rock, each one a different style and difficulty. I can’t tell you more, but all will be revealed soon.

Oh, well just a glimpse…


As I write this today, with the rain coming down, yesterday’s welcome sunshine seems a distant memory. After several Lancashire walks taken directly from a guide book it was time to visit a different area and plan a route for myself in hopefully contrasting scenery. It worked out better than expected.

We were up the motorway out of Lancashire and into Cumbria, but only just. Not the Lakes but a quiet corner hidden away in the extreme south of the county. In the past I travelled here often to climb and boulder on Hutton Roof crags, beautiful sculptured limestone in the exquisite landscape above Dalton. It was time for a revisit and going over the map the night before I came up with a circuit including the summit trig point which I had not knowingly visited before, my focus then being primarily on the climbing area. It’s complicated up here with several ‘rakes’ of rock running across the fell, presumably fault lines in the limestone, creating miniature walls of rock. Paths are everywhere, but don’t always go anywhere and once the bracken is up it’s like finding your way through a maze.

I phoned Mike at a respectful time in the morning to see if he fancied a walk, but he was due to visit family on this Coronation weekend. Maybe I should therefore go for a longer walk in Bowland? Before long however he phoned back to say he thought, taking advantage of the good weather, he would postpone family to another day. I outlined my planned walk with only vague ideas of how we would navigate across the limestone plateau. Sandwiches hurriedly made we set off.

It was almost noon when we parked up in Burton-in-Kendal, but this worked to our advantage as the misty morning had given way to bright sunshine and blue skies. The first pleasant surprise was the old bridleway, Slape Lane, leading out of the village. A Panoramic Viewpoint has been erected  to honour Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the distant Lakeland Hills depicted were unfortunately hazy in reality. At least closer at hand Farleton Fell appeared prominent.

Between hedges and walls the bridleway snaked slowly up the open fell side, first through farmland and then into forestry. Our attention was taken with the spring flowers and the unidentified bird song in the trees.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust seem to have a hand in managing the woodlands and provide helpful information boards and permissive paths going who knows where. We stuck to the bridleway which came out onto a short stretch of road leading to a col where the Limestone Link footpath crosses Farleton Fell on its way from Kirkby Lonsdale to Arnside or vice versa. Nearby Newbiggin Crags look worthy of exploring.

Turning right we followed the footpath through coppiced woodlands and then onto more open limestone fell. Purple Orchids sporadically appeared giving a splash of colour. What a place for our lunch, looking out over fertile farmland and farther into Cumbria and the distant Howgill Fells.

I knew, or thought I did, my way to the climbing area, marked as The Rakes on the map. Soon we spotted climbers along the edge. Most were doing roped routes, and we stopped to watch for a while – what a perfect afternoon for them. Can you spot South America?

Now for the difficult bit. There was a path leading away from The Rakes which I thought might take us to the trig point, but it kept going down. Trying to make a straight line back up the hill was impossible across the shrub covered limestone blocks. Not wanting to break a leg we surrendered and back tracked on the path we had come in on. This brought us back to our lunch spot! I glossed over this by praising the weather and suggesting to Mike it was good training for him, he’s off to the Amalfi Coast in a couple of weeks. We struck off on a higher path heading in the right direction only to find it twisting and turning through the rocks. Forward visibility was obscured by the vegetation, one just had to keep going the most obvious way. Junctions caused some serious discussion, but we might as well just have tossed a coin. A runner appeared coming in our direction, on asking him if he had come from the trig point he looked baffled obviously not recognising the term. Onwards. A well-used path came up from  the valley, so we joined it. A couple of dogs came past us followed by their owner who gave the impression of knowing the way but in fact this was her first time too. We followed the dogs and suddenly came out on to the more open top with the summit trig clearly visible.

A true 360 degree viewpoint, now with Ingleborough coming out of the cloud.  The Bowland Hills were clearer than the Lakes. Morecambe Bay was a silver shimmer and one could see Blackpool Tower through binoculars if you wished. I don’t seem to have taken may picture at the top. It would be worth getting up here early one morning in the crisp air to make the most of the visibility. And what sunsets you could witness. 

If we didn’t get a move on we might have been seeing one of those sunsets. But once into Dalton Hall’s woods the forest tracks lead us unerringly down to a lane through the few houses of Dalton and down eventually to Burton.

It was 6 o’clock back at the car – oh well I could forget about cutting the lawn.

What an exceptional walk this turned out to be. On reflection, I see on the map public footpaths from Dalton that would have taken us to Burton without the road walking, maybe next time as I’m sure there will be a next time.


CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE (and a bit of Yorkshire) – On the hoof.

                                                                               Black Hambledon.

Another skylark day.

I hadn’t decided where to walk this morning but after a bit of faffing I hurriedly opted for a ready-made route, no 39, in Cicerones’s 40 Lancashire walks book by Mark Sutcliffe. It is described as the Reservoirs of Worsthorne Moor, but it is far more; traversing post-industrial landscapes, wild gritstone boulders, trackless moor, endless views and the summit of Black Hambledon, Hoof Stones Height, 479 m. I haven’t knowingly been up Black Hambleton before and today’s route virtually circled it before committing to the top.

It was almost lunchtime when I parked up on The Long Causeway, an ancient route from Pendle through to the Calder Valley, now dominated by wind turbines.  A fell runner was just returning from his morning circuit, there was still a chill in the air. (we’d had a ground frost)

Some of the early tracks I remembered from The Burnley Way done back in 2017. Leaving the wind turbines the way drops down Shedden Clough into an old limestone mining area where they used ‘hushes’, dammed watercourses to uncover the limestone. There was evidence of industrial activity wherever you looked.

A man from Salford was exercising his two dogs down by the bridge. He escapes up here for fresh air and tranquillity. The young dogs were having a great time, I think they were pleased to be out of Salford too. A couple of mountain bikers came through and after that I met no one until almost finished.

I was on the Pennine Bridleway heading towards Cant Clough Reservoir set deep in the hills. Normally one can go across the dam, but there was maintenance work in progress which meant a  tiresome diversion down the valley and back up again. They were ‘repuddling’ the clay lining, probably the first time since the construction at the end of the C19th. You may remember the 2019 panic when the reservoir dam above Whaley Bridge was put under strain and threatened the area with flooding.

In another extensive quarried area I soon left the PBW, for a while anyway, and headed on a smaller path bordering the wild Rams Clough up into the hills towards an unnamed 468 m summit. All was quiet except for the joyous skylarks. I was soon looking back at Cant Clough Reservoir. The path became steeper and rougher – a sign of things to come?

I reached a bridge in the middle of nowhere carrying the BBW where I managed a photo of a Wheatear which flew from post to post, I remember several of them in this very same place on my Burnley Way outing.

Passing into Yorkshire, Gorple Upper Reservoir now came into sight below and there above me the Gorple Stones, which looked as though there would be bouldering possibilities. But how often do you get a day like this up there?

Ahead now was the prominent Gorple Buttress. I recall the excitement in the climbing magazines back in 1995 – “John Dunne has climbed an E7 on the jutting prow of Gorple” Walking below it today it looked as impossible as ever, overhanging and slopy, I wondered if anybody has repeated it. Dunne went on to produce an even harder more direct line at E9 three years later. A good spot for lunch gazing down at the remote reservoir and across to Black Hambleton.

John Dunne on Eternal E7, cooler day.         David Simmonite.

Stirring myself I was soon down to the dam. Mark’s route goes a little down the valley, towards the lower reservoir, before climbing again, but I spotted a level path getting to the same point by crossing, possibly illegally, the dam  and using the estate’s shooters’ track. Not advised in the killing season. There were some very attractive little gritstone buttresses above that valley, I may need to return.

 Gorple Lower Reservoir.

Across the way were the hauntingly fascinating ruins of  C16-17th Raistrick Greave, presumably abandoned when the reservoirs were constructed, around 1930. It had been a large farm and buildings, one suggestion is that it may have been also a stop-over on the local packhorse trails. Reaps Cross is nearby and of course The Packhorse Inn over at Widdop.

To be honest I never really picked up the path again. The ground is very rough and tussocky, when I thought I was back on track I usually ended up on a sheep trod going nowhere. I just battled up the hillside keeping to a southerly direction avoiding Clegg Clough for more than one reason. All around was that dry straw-coloured moorland grass so attractive from afar in the winter months.

Boggy paths started to appear on Hoar Side Moor and I followed one until I hit the fence which I could follow westwards up Black Hambleton at last.  All very bleak and isolated.

The trig point eventually appeared. I found a rock to sit on straddling the Lancashire /Yorkshire boundary. All around were the familiar Pennine Hills. Bowland, Pendle, Ingleborough, Boulsworth, StoodleyPike and many unnamed ones to the south.Way down below I could see a Barn Owl quartering the rough pastures.

Pendle in the distance.

Bench marked rocky seat.

I wish the walk could have ended up here as I never found the proper path off to the southwest, the rough ground making it hard going, and the mile alonside the busy road was scattered with litter.  But ignoring that last hour this had been a stunning walk of variety and remoteness, sorry I was distracted by all those boulders. I was tired by the end. 




It was alarming that my car radio suddenly switched from Radio Lancashire to BBC Cymru as I turned off the A6 towards Dolphinhome in deepest Lancashire. Had I taken the wrong turning somewhere down the road? it turns out their frequencies are very similar, still a bit strange.  I was on route to the heart of Bowland not Bangor. Tarnbrook’s few houses lie at the end of the road alongside the northern branch of the River Wyre. They are part of the Duke of Westmorland’s vast Abbeystead estate. I’ve covered this area many times before, most recently here in my Cicerone series. Parking along this narrow lane has always been an issue and the estate are discouraging us going past a suitable lay-by at the entry to the valley. I go along with this even though I know of a large grassy verge higher up the lane. These parkings are both  mentioned in Mark Sutcliffe’s walk number 10 onto Ward’s Stone in the Cicerone Lancashire Walks guide book, my objective for today. It looked far off on the horizon.

What a day, clear blue skies and sunshine. Rare enough in these northern hills. But there is a cool easterly wind blowing even down here as I start my walk along the lane to Tarnbrook. I add a few extra warm garments to my rucksack. The quiet lane runs alongside the Tarnbrook Branch of the River Wyre and its joyful passage keeps my attention on the mile or so morning walk up the valley, and of course the lambs. I pass Ouzel Bridge leading to  a farm. The Ring Ouzel, or mountain Blackbird, is found in the tree lined cloughs in the Forest of Bowland. Will I see any today, I have previously?

Once into the hamlet I take the concessionary path straight up the fell into open access land, roughly following Tarnsyke Clough. Unfortunately not a Ring Ouzel in sight but there are plenty of lapwings and curlews flying around. This is essentially a Land Rover track to take shooters up to the butts on the fell. In the past, before the CRoW act, it was jealously guarded by the keeper living in the hamlet. Us climbers wanting to go up to the forbidden Thorn Crag, seen up on the right, often resorted to devious tactics, walking up a longer, but permitted, way to the plateau and then dropping down to the crag. We came unstuck one day when my climbing partner uncoiled his new rope, a fluorescent yellow. We could be seen from Blackpool never mind from the keeper’s cottage in Tarnbrook. Session over we would walk boldly down the estate track knowing we would be rudely accosted but also knowing they would have to let us out at the hamlet, stalemate. Things changed with the implication of the access agreement, the same gamekeeper who had sworn at us the last year now wished us a good day. The worm turns. There are no confrontations today and I just plod on upwards at my steady pace. I can’t believe I used to carry a bouldering pad up here.

Thorn Crag and boulders.

Looking back down to Tarnbrook with Hawthornthwaite Fell behind.

I reach the ‘Luncheon Hut’, park your Range Rover here sir.

Onwards, I ignore the track off to the right and continue on to a division of tracks not specifically stated in the guide. It mentions contouring to the left, I somehow ignore this and  follow the tempting main track upwards to its terminus, SD593578, and then pick up a fainter path linking a series of shooting butts rising up the fell. All very pleasant although the modern butts resemble WW1 fortifications. I am obviously wrong but take a compass bearing on the trig point and climb onwards. With relief the conspicuous weather station up here comes into view, I was then only a few  hundred metres from the summit. It would all be far more difficult in mist. Probably would have been better to stick more closely to Mark’s directions.

End of the road.

Old pony track.

Grouse bunker.

The Fylde plain and Morecambe Bay lie down below, all a little hazy, as I reach the trig point, 560 m. The Lakes and northern Pennines were imaginary. By now the wind was almost gale force making any movement awkward. Fortunately there is a gritstone boulder, the Ward’s Stone itself, nearby behind which I cowered and added more layers of clothing. I used my spare balaclava to keep my cap from blowing away. Even with two pairs of gloves my hands were frozen. I was the only person out on the fell which was probably good considering my appearance.

560 m trig with nearby Ward’s Stone.

Grit Fell to the west and Morecambe Bay.

Over to Caton wind farm with the Lakes hiding behind.

Ready for battle at Ward’s Stone.

Half a mile across the sea of peat was another trig point one metre higher, so at 561 m the highest in Bowland. Why there are two so close together I can find no reason. All is Bowland emptiness to the east, except for Ingleborough’s d