Tag Archives: coronavirus

A BIT OF COUNTRYSIDE NORTH OF BOLTON BY BOWLAND.

I had to check the map this morning to ensure I wasn’t straying out of Lancashire on today’s walk, we are in Covid Tier 3 after all. An extra mile and I would have been in Yorkshire but I don’t think anyone would have known.

Another route out of Jack Keighley’s Bowland walking guide taking me into the farmlands north of Bowland-by-Bowland. I have walked from B-by-B many times but this route promised some good riverside tracks unknown to me and probably unknown to any as I discovered.

After my recent rather longwinded posts I hope this will be more concise, it all depends on what I find.

There is a little carpark in the village next to the bridge and surprisingly I was the first in this morning. I went south for a short while towards Sawley passing a sandstone cross base isolated in a field, I’m not far from Sawley Abbey. The last time I approached Bolton Peel from a different direction I had to ford the beck so I was a little apprehensive of what I would face today after heavy rain. To my delight there was a footbridge alongside the ford and I was soon up to the road at Bolton Peel. This is a sturdy C17th farmhouse with a preaching cross in front of it. From the original Peel family came Sir Robert Peel, he of police fame. There was nobody about this morning so I had a sneaky peek into the adjacent barn with its cruck roof beams.

Now heading north I used a path by a lively beck into the little hamlet of Holden. There were some impressive waterfalls deep in the gorge. I have been visiting Holden Clough Nursery for years but now in younger hands it has become a thriving garden centre. Plants are still at the heart of the business but they run a cafe and shop which I hoped would be open.  On with my mask and through the gift shop, I got their first brew of the day. The first time I’ve been in a cafe for 7 months – maybe the last.

Across the road is the exquisite Broxup House.

I knew the next stretch from a previous walk. It starts through the narrowest of gaps.  I was soon passing the C17th Hungril Farm and its posh barn conversion neighbour.

The next farm along was equally expensively renovated and yet round the back was the ubiquitous rubbish ‘waiting for Godot’

Muddy fields took me higher to the road at Broad Ing. Up here was expansive rolling farming lands with views to Pendle [in cloud] and Weets Hill. My heading photo depicts the scene and if you click to enlarge and look closely flocks of Lapwings or Redwings, perhaps both, can be made out above the trees. They were a common sight today.

Climbing higher I arrived in the farm yard of Wittons where a few waymarks wouldn’t have gone amiss. I blundered on into the next valley where some delicate barbed wire climbing was needed on the steep pull up to an old barn. Round the corner was a arrow pointing down a better route, one at the bottom pointing up would have been useful.

From Lower Flass my guide [admittedly 25years old] describes a permissive path alongside Monubent Beck, just follow the ‘white arrows’. A Right of Way took me down to a footbridge and it then climbed the hillside away from the beck. The permissive path was nowhere to be seen so I just set off close to the water imagining I was on a track. A stile appeared and the odd footbridge but in between was jungle. It was obvious that nobody comes this way anymore, there were certainly no white arrows. I was more concerned I might get shot if there was a pheasant shoot on. A bonus was that I glimpsed several roe deer running off through the trees. Every time a I came to a stile I was emboldened to go further.

Eventually after this interesting trespassing section I came out the far end onto a road which I recognised from our cut through way to Settle and the limestone crags. By the bridge the Monubent Beck joined into Skirden Beck. This group of houses around the bridge is called Forest Becks and on foot I was able to see them better than when driving through. A lot of them have had recent facelifts.

A liitle further on the road I also Had a closer look at Stoop Lane house, 1703.

A familiar path above Skirden Beck led me straight back to my car at the bridge.. I didn’t explore the village of B-by-B as I have covered it in a previous post.

*****

AMBLING AROUND ABBEYSTEAD.

*****

https://i0.wp.com/www.map-of-uk.co.uk/maps/map-of-lancashire.gif

The green area on the above map is the County of Lancashire which as you may well know has, as of this last weekend, gone into the highest Covid restrictions – Tier 3.  So my wanderings in the foreseeable future will be solely in the Red Rose County. There are far more worse places to be. As it happens I was already planning to visit Abbeystead today for a walk plucked out of Jack Keighley’s  Cicerone ‘Walks in the Forest of Bowland’  guide which seemed to have several points of interest. I’ve been following quite a few from this guide in the last weeks and have been impressed by their quality. The forecast is for cloud so a low level walk suits.

*****

I arrived at the carpark at 12am to find it full, I’d half expected that. Fortunately a couple of early birds were just finishing their walk so I grabbed their spot. The River Wyre has two initial tributaries, The Marshaw and The Tarnbrook. I started my walk alonside the latter and soon came to the former. My curiosity had me bashing through the undergrowth to find the confluence of the two – a Dr. Livingstone experience. The two small streams meet and soon the River Wyre takes on a more majestic flow. Satisfied I go back to where I had started, it’s going to one of those days.

Marshaw Wyre bridge.

Meeting of the Waters

The Wyre flows on.

I took some photos of these large plants growing profusely along the banks – I don’t know their name? I thought the leaves were too large for Japanese Knotweed but I’m not so sure now.

My path left the Wyre Way and shot up some steep stone steps which kept on going. Eventually fields followed to come out onto the road at Hawthornthwaite with the fell road heading across to the Trough of Bowland just above me. All around were the Bowland Fells looking a bit dismal today.

The molecatcher has been working overtime.

A farm track took me past Marl House and then into open fields with no obvious track. For this walk the guide states “A somewhat complex route requiring careful reference to map and directions”  Well I was soon searching for the next stile and essential footbridge across a formidable little gorge, Cam Brook. Walking up and down my GPS didn’t seem to be helping. I persisted with my search and finally found a new looking bridge across but not where shown on my map. Anyhow I was across and climbing fairly new steps but at the top where I should have gone right to an old mill a new pheasant fencing blocked my way and shepherding me upwards. I tried an open space in a hollow but at its end a high gate. I could see no path continuing so I decided to head for a barn shown on the map and follow the track from there.   As I walked on I spotted three walkers coming the other way towards where I should have been. After pleasantries with them I set forth or was that back, determined to find the mill ruins. After a couple of stiles I came across them in the woods, sad reminders of a bygone time. It had been a water driven cotton spinning mill until destroyed by fire in 1848. Associated workers’ cottages were disappearing nearby. That hollow I had been walking in half an hour ago was in fact the old empty mill pond.

Satisfied I returned to pass again the cheerful three sat on a log having lunch .

Last of the summer wine.

Now I knew where I was going – Litttle Catshaw 1763 and Catshaw Hall 1678. I passed through here before with Sir Hugh on our straight line walk from Longridge to Arnside in November 2018.

Little Catshaw.

Catshaw Hall.

The steep track led down over a sparkling side stream and to the Wyre in its heavily wooded valley. A sturdy bridge was crossed before stone steps went straight up the opposite hill to Lentworth Hall. These tracks must be centuries old linking farms and maybe going to the church where I was heading.

More stone steps.

A gate at the top of a field, suitably full of sheep, admitted me into the churchyard of Christ Church, The Shepherds’ Church.  [The gate has its own story which I thought was a joke at first] The church dates back to the C14th but was rebuilt in 1733 and a spire added to its tower later.  Its stained glass windows depict Biblical shepherd scenes, these would have been better appreciated from the interior but it was locked. In the porch are rows of hooks supposedly for visiting shepherds to hang their crooks. Above the door is an old inscription –  ‘O ye shepherds hear the word of the Lord

I found a bench to sit on for lunch, it was 2.30 after all.  Next to me was a war memorial with a thought provoking inscription perhaps aimed at the agricultural soldier.

My next objective was a Friends Meeting House and Quaker burial ground up the hill at Brook House. As well as the meeting house there had been a school and schoolmasters house in this little complex of buildings, now residential conversions. The grave yard with its simple uniform headstones was accessible. and was a very calming place. Apparently the Friends Meeting House In Lancaster has use of it but there didn’t appear to be many recent burials.

I was now quite high on the northern flanks of the Wrye Valley but views were limited by the weather. More fields took me past Chapel House Farm with its barking dogs and over a rickety stile to the road at Summers House.

Then a walk across rough country in woresening light to Grizedale Bridge over the Tarnbrook Wyre. A cart track was followed back to Stoops Bridge.

Grizedale Bridge.

Stoops Bridge.

Before I got my car I had a wander into Abbeystead  itself. All the C19th buildings are now part of the Duke of Westminster’s vast estate and built in an Elizabethan style. The big house is hidden from view. The hamlet is named after an Abbey founded here in the C12th by Cistercian monks from Furness. It didn’t last long and was soon abandoned.

All I needed was a bit of sunshine to bring out the Autumn colours.

 

*****

A CIRCUIT OF PENDLE HILL VISITING A HIDDEN WELL.

                                                                              Evening light on Pendle.

As I lazed away this morning reading I came across a comment about Fox’s well on Pendle Hill.

George Fox was born in 1624 and was in his 20’s by the time of the civil wars between the Royalists and the Pariamentarians. This was also a time of questioning the established religious ideas. Fox was travelling the country preaching an alternative simpler Christian message. By the 1650’s he was in Northen England and in 1652 according to his journal…

“As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high”                                    “When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered”                                                   “As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before”

Hence the name, Fox’s Well, in memory of his visit. He went on to found The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Many parts of the North became Quaker strongholds and because of his vision Pendle Hill became a special place for Quakers.

*****

Well no time to lose.                                                                                                                                 The sun was shining but it was already 11am, I’m slow to get going these days.                          The well is not marked on the OS maps but I had a grid reference SD 80494200, I must have walked past it on my last visit here.                                                                                                          As I drove across I was planning a route in  my head, park in Barley and walk the hill on its steep side, the Big End. Coming down the road that cuts across the east side of Pendle I was astonished to see a line of parked cars stretching for half a mile, negotiating past them wasn’t easy.  Things were even worse in the village with the car park full to overflowing and lots of desperate drivers cruising about. So this is a Covid day out for half of Lancashire. I curse myself – I shouldn’t have come to a honeypot on a Sunday.

Just as I’m thinking of going elsewhere I remember a safe and legal pull in on the road perfect for my little car. So Just after mid-day I’m walking back up the hill past all those badly parked cars. I then join the crowds along to Pendle House and then up the steep stepped path. Not really my idea of a day’s fell walking but I have an objective so its a matter of head down and grin and bear it.

As if by magic as soon as I cross the stile at the far end the masses disappear, they are on the way to the crowded Trig point which I can happily miss today. I pick up the track heading down the north side and before long I can hear running water. It becomes a gushing sound and there on the hillside is flowing water from a spring. Just above is the metal cover of the well and lo and behold when I lift it  there is the goblet to fill with the clearest of water to quench my thirst. The best water in Lancashire it is said, I woudn’t disagree.

Feeling pleased with myself I ponder my onward journey. I have no intention of joining the masses on the summit so I pick up a traversing path going west. This takes me to a stone shelter on the edge of the northern escarpment where I’d planned a lunch stop. Perfect. As I’m finishing a youthful foursome from Liverpool arrive. I share the seating with them and enjoy their banter. Onwards to the Scouting Cairn and then I decide to go over Spence Moor, Pendle’s little brother. I forgot to mention thet the views are outstanding today in all directions. I have a birds eye view of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley. Over towards Longridge Fell and Bowland parapenters are circling. The Three Peaks, Skipton and East Lanc’s hills, Winter Hill and the distant Welsh mountains complete the panorama.

I’m surprised to find a recently improved track heading my direction, probably coming from The Nick of Pendle. Reluctantly I soon have to leave it to maintain height to Spence Moor.There is nobody about and on the rough pathless ground I put up grouse, snipes and skylarks.

On the way across boogy ground I come across a sheep on its back – riggwelted.           Riggwelter takes its name from Yorkshire dialect with Nordic roots; “rygg” meaning back, and “velte” meaning to overturn. A sheep is said to be rigged or ‘riggwelted’ when it has rolled onto its back and is unable to get back up without assistance. You can experience the same by drinking a few pints of Black Sheep Brewery’s Riggwelter beer. Anyhow I came to the rescue of this girl although she didn’t seem very appreciative.

There are no markers to announce my arrval at the rounded summit of Spence Moor. A little further and I pick up a soggy path going east. Down to my right are the East Lancs towns of Nelson and Colne. While over to the left is a different view of Pendle, my steep ascent path is clearly seen on the right.

I decided, perhaps wrongly, to drop steeply down to the two Ogden reservoirs, it would have been better in retrospect to have carried on high towards Newchurch.

A tarmacked lane descended to Barley Green where there has been a tasteful conversin of old Nelson Waterboard 1930 buildings to living accomodation. And then I was back into Blackpool, err no,  sorry – Barley. There were no-parking signs everywhere and I can only imagine the hastle that the locals have had during this strange pandemic when the world and his dog have to go walking. Normally this is a pleasant village to wander tgrough.

I’ll come on a weekday in future.

 

*****

 

 

 

HOW FRAGILE WE ARE.

Stop awhile this weekend in your Covid angst, especially if you live in the north, and have a listen to Sting…

…now we have all calmed down lets look at the problem.

From the figures things seem to be getting worse. So what is the solution? Well the government will slowly, what’s the rush?, try and tell us next week.

Oh! and by the way where do all these ‘leaks’ come from?

 The above is just one example of ‘Brutal trading conditions’. Conditions repeated in the hospitality and drinks sector, the tourism and airline sector, the performing arts sector, the fashion sector and most other sectors you can imagine. Our economy has been allowed, nay even been encouraged,  to depend upon these honest but nebulus sectors. Where is the backbone of our economy?  In pubs or in industry?  Years of free enterprise and privatisation policies have led us down this cul-de-sac.

We can’t even rely in these Covid endemic times on a ‘test and trace’ system which has been put into unsuitable private hands.

So as the situation worsens by the day I don’t know the answers anymore than you, the scientists or the politicians. But I do feel that we should never have been in this situation in the first place, virus or not.

No one wants to be one of those 87 or those millions out of work. A cleft stick situation.

How fragile we are.

BLEASDALE BIMBLE.

Bleasdale.

Today I do a short walk on the Bleasdale Estate lanes with Mike who has all too recently lost his wife to dementia.

I’m not the best of companions as I become as upset as him.

We have done this walk many times in the past beforer returning home to his wife’s excallent lunches.

Today I provide the soup and support, I hope.

The butterfly below brightened the day.

A Red Admiral making the most of the October sunshine.

*****

NEWTON AND SLAIDBURN.

                                                     The Hodder between Newton nad Slaidburn.

A short walk was all I needed today.

I’m always driving through these two villages so I thought it was time to visit in more detail. During this Covid pandemic everyone seems to be out and about. All the car-parks are overflowing and the honey spots overwhelmed, I’ve usually kept well clear but today I had to park up in Newton. Mea culpa.  I found a safe spot outside of the village but noticed some thoughtless blocking of farmers’ gates etc.

I first wandered around the olde worlde hamlet of Newton – in – Bowland..

Georgian Newton Hall.

Salisbury Hall.

John Brabbins Old School. 1757.

Old school 1842.

Old reading room. Late C18th.

United Reformed Church. 1887.

 

Then I was ready to start the riverside walk to Slaidburn. The River Hodder.

Ahead was the limestone bluff above Dunhow Hall.

There are cliff faces up there in the trees and I had time to climb up and explore. On closer acquaintance the rock was overhanging and compact, not much scope for my style of climbing, i.e.  too hard.Whilst I was up here I explored further and came out into meadows on top of the hill with good views towards Slaidburn. I wandered down to re-join the path near the gatehouse and then walked into Slaidburn on a short stretch of busy road. I sought sanctuary at the 15th century St. Andrew’s Church which turned out to be open. I’ve never visited it but read of rich internal features. Most of the interior was taped off so I only had a glimpse of the elaborate screen, Norman font, box pews and pulpit. Outside there was a sundial from 1796 and a shaft of a Medieval Cross.

Next door was the Old Grammar School founded in 1717 and still in use as a village school.

Rows of 16/17 C cottages lead into the village and there in front of you is The Hark to Bounty pub.

The inn’s name is from the sound of the C19th Squire’s dog, Bounty.

At the top of the steps was the old courtroom of the district.

The war memorial is on an island and an old Wesleyan Chapel has been restored.

Chapel Street.

The café on the village green was doing a roaring trade from passing travellers. Some impressive motor bikes were on display.

Leaving the hubbub I climbed away from the bridge and crossed into fields heading over into the Easington valley I’d been in a few days ago. The weather conditions today were much pleasanter with clear views of Easington Fell .

At Broadhead Farm I chatted to the farmer as he selected lambs to go to auction.

Following Easington Brook…… I came to the impressive Easington Manor House once again.Easington hamlet was as quiet as normal. Onwards through fields by Easington Brook to join the Hodder and a path back to the elegant Newton Bridge. And that was just a short walk.

*****

LONGRIDGE FELL AGAIN.

As I had been out walking most days last week today, Saturday, I had inteneded to go bouldering up on the fell.

The sun was shining through my curtains early this morning promising a fine day. I was sipping my life giving coffee when the phone rang suggesting a short walk on Longridge Fell. As I have not seen Dave and Christine for awhile, we are in special measures in Lancashire with no visiting house or garden. I’m glad to meet up with them. As I thought the parking would be busy.

We strolled up the fell chatting away. We remarked on how fast the fir sapplings were growing and intruding into the path. What will it be like in another few years?There was a cold wind blowing and it felt definitely Autumnal. Considering the number of cars parked up we saw few people, they may all have gone up to the trig point which we avoided.

A pleasant short walk in good company. I went bouldering up at Craig y Longidge in the afternoon.

*****

THE ‘SAFE SIX’ CLIMB NICKY NOOK.

My last trip to Nicky Nook was in February just before Storm Ciara and, without realising it, before the more devasting storm Covid.

I grew up with Enid Blyton – The Famous Five and the even better Secret Seven. Maybe my sense of adventure was instilled into my developing psyche from these innocent tales.  I’ll not spoil this post with any historical racial or sexual criticism of her works.

Anyhow today there were six of us  – the  safe six of these Covid times.

From http://www.gov.uk     When meeting friends and family you do not live with (or have formed a support bubble with) you must not meet in a group of more than 6, indoors or outdoors. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.

We met up at a secluded carpark down single track lanes.  The other five had travelled from South Manchester and Cheshire and had invited me along for no particular reason, the only link being blog posts we mutually follow.

Introductions completed we set off suitably distanced.

Everyone took photos of this unusual School Bus Stop. I don’t know which school or which bus but there can’t be many pupils.I didn’t pay much attention as to which way we went but we passed through several typical Lancashire farms and I have to admit the waymarking was on the whole excellent. With our intrepid leader, follow the orange cap – phreerunner in another guise, striding out confidently we were soon onto the fell road skirting the wild Bowland Fells. We then dropped back into farming country and a lane where we came across a Wyresdale shooting party, ‘ducks and partridges’ season apparently. I met up with an acquaintance from Longridge who takes his dogs along for retreaving. they were heading off for lunch at the hall. No invites for us but there was a bench for a coffee break. My new friends excelled at this point by bringing out some homemade delicacies, Paul’s Fridge Cake was my favourite but Martin’s Chocolate Thingy was a close second. [My regular walking partners please take note – I expect better in future.]

Shooting party.

Coffee bench. In memory of a beekeeper.

A steady climb past a false summit and we were at the trig point, repainted since I was last here but sadly graffitied by the ‘was here’ brigade. Despite the biting wind we enjoyed views in all directions. Someone spotted the Isle of Man, someone else Blackpool tower and even North Wales. My pictures fail to show them well.

Leaving the crowds and doubling back on ourselves we took the steepish, but not the steepest, path through invasive rhododendrons into the delightful Grize Dale valley. Everyone was impressed by the path alongside first the reservoir and then the bubbling stream.

Another rememberance bench on cue signalled the lunch stop. I had to pass on the offered goodies.Fields took us into Scorton passing by the parish church whose spire is a well known M6 landmark.  Before long we were back at the carpark. An enjoyable stroll in Lancashire’s finest. I didn’t take as many photos as usual as I was too busy chatting but you can see more in Martin’s post and also read the true story.

*****

NATIONAL ALZHEIMER’S DAY. September 21st. Finding a new path.

 

Over the last year I’ve been trying to find the right path to communicate with my lovely friend suffering from Alzheimers. While I could, I took her out to hopefully familiar places and friends. When her watch showed noon it was time to find somewhere to eat. Lager and lime, fish no batter, chips and mushy peas, was the order of the day.

Then we would play patience, she rarely missed a trick.

Then we would sit and do jigsaws, she had a quick eye for the right piece.

Then I would play music; The Beatles, Hot Chocolate and Niel Diamond. Was that the best choice?  A wave of the hands or a nod of the head meant a lot.

Then I would just talk about anything. A thumbs up was all I needed.

Then she stared, did she know me? Was that a tear?

Then she went.

***

After the funeral I went for a walk up Longridge Fell. It was a beautiful late Summer’s evening. I thought I had found a new path through the trees, maybe a gift to remember her by,  but it went nowhere.

It is National Alzheimer’s Day today, September 21st.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/world-alzheimers-month

Have you thought of giving to their charity?

 

 

LONGRIDGE SLATE POETRY – Dark clouds gathering?

On many of my local walks up on Longridge Fell since the pandemic started I highlighted the uplifting poems written on slate and scattered about the region. I still do not know the originator of these pieces of art. Each one has been chosen for its content – nature and the environment; humanity, compassion and hope.

Today I have a stroll around the village itself to discover even more poems.

When I wrote about Longridge in March it was virtually a ghost town but time has moved on, we have relaxed and ventured out shopping again. The coffee shops have a new lease of life. Today in the blue skiy and sunshine the streets were busy, but with many people wearing their masks between shops. A new normal as the infection rate rises?  The virus’s hand is on our shoulder warning us of a bleak Winter to come. In that context the poems take on a life of their own – interpret them as you wish but we should embrace  their optimism.

The latest slates in no particular order…

There may be more painted slates lying unnoticed in the village, I’ll keep looking. I think we may need their solace in the months to come.

On my walk I had a song constantly nagging at my mind …

LITTLEDALE. A bittersweet day.

                                                                   Bowland at its best.

I walked here a week ago, August Bank Holiday Monday. We had planned it to avoid the crowds. Sir Hugh’s write up is already published.

On my drive home I had a phone call to say my friend with dementia and motor-neurone disease had suffered a turn for the worse. Was I glad I had not taken the motorway, it was jam packed. My liitle car sped through the by lanes and I arrived along with the paramedics. There was little they could do except offer sincere empathy, likewise the oncall doctor who came shortly afterwards. Thankfully she could be nursed, unconscious, at home. Two days later she passed away peacefully. I’ve lost two of my best friends this year.

 

A week later I have loaded my photos but am unable to give a  commentary.

Baines Crag carpark.

Artle Beck.

Crossgill Farm, 1681, typical of the area.

The former St. Anne;s Chapel. 1752.

Littledale Free Church, 1849, now a store.

Littledale Hall and buildings, C19 gothic style. Now a ‘therapy centre’.

Sir Hugh entering upper Littledale.

Leafy Littledale.

Over to Roeburndale – another day.

Littledale – there and back.

I want one of these when the time comes.

Littledale Hall again.

Caton Moor wind turbines.

Slopes of Clougha with the infant River Condor.

Looking back towards distant Ward’s Stone Fell.

Baines Crag.

 

 

A steep end to the day.

*****

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR.

Following on from a post by Sir Hugh [ http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-first-night-of-proms.html ]  this is why I pay my TV license. 

I’ve just watched/listened to a brilliant display of sitar playing by Anoushka Shankar, daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar on BBC Four, part of their Proms season. There was no audience this year because of  Covid 19.

The first session was with an electronic mixer Gold Panda twiddling the nobs. Mind blowing, you just have to listen to it.

The second session was with a strings orchestra and Manu Delago playing the Hang drum, which looks like a wok. Inspirational.

I hope it will be still visible on catch up TV  – if you have paid your license.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/erfz3d

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000m7gz/bbc-proms-2020-anoushka-shankar-and-gold-panda

 

THE OTHER END OF THE FELL.

                               Longridge Fell from the south, Kemple End is the steep bit at the right.

The fell in question is Longridge Fell, may I remind you it is the most southerly named ‘fell’. It rises to all of 350m and is a 6 miles long escarpment with a steep northern side and a gentler southern slope. The town of Longridge sits at its western end. My recent, infrequent, walks have been at the western end so today I explore the eastern end above Hurst Green where it drops steeply to the River Hodder. I have a particular path I want to explore.

I start in Hurst Green near the Shireburn Almshouses, they were first built in a commanding position on Longridge Fell itself in 1906 but were moved and rebuilt in Hurst Green in 1946 for Stonyhurst College workers.

Hurst Green Almshouses.

I set off on one of my favourite paths that goes alongside Dean Brook which has found its way down from the fell and here is in a little gorge where it was harnessed to provide bobbin mills with power. Today, after last night’s rain it was flowing energetically through its twists and turns. Alongside is Sand Rock an old quarry which I diverted to see. I have climbed here in the past but it tends to be damp and green. There is a good view of the bridge from up here.

The lane leads on past Greengore … … an old hunting lodge, and heads gently up towards Longridge Fell which on this slope is covered extensively with forestation. At the road I go left to pick up the forest track going higher onto the fell. It was near here that a fire broke out recently due to those dangerous disposable barbeques and their idiotic owners.

A sidetrack leads up onto the ridge where you pass through a wall stile to sudden extensive views; Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells, Beacon Fell and the Fylde coast leading to Morecambe Bay and distant Black Coombe. A short boggy walk by the wall brings you to the summit Trig point, Spire Hill. There are usually a few people wandering around up here. Now out northeast are the three Yorkshire Peaks.

Heading eastwards I soon enter the dark forests where paths remain wet throughout the year. Further, on Hare Hill, is an area of older Scots pines I call the enchanted forest, where paths seem to disappear amongst the shapely trees draped in moss. I’ve bivied up in this spot several times, magic evenings with owls hooting and deer wandering by.

I emerge onto a forest track which leads to an open area with views this time into the heart of the Trough of Bowland whilst way down below are scattered farmsteads. There are some logs to rest awhile.

In the sunshine butterflies, mainly Red Admirals, flit about the purple heather which is just coming to its prime.

Onwards is a much smaller path in the trees on the edge of the steep northern scarp, the land just drops away from you. When I first explored these forests 50 years ago there were no paths at all, but over time this one has become established and now appears as a dotted line on the 1:25,000. In recent years with the advent of mountain bikes, a lot of tracks have become badly eroded – my feet are certainly wet by now.

As this narrow track, now hemmed in by young spruce trees, starts to drop down the fell end I’m on the lookout for that public footpath I want to explore. It drops down back NWesterly on an old rake. At one time this was through mature trees but these were felled a few years ago, I’ve not used it since. There is little sign of it amongst the new growth and I have to take a GPS reading to determine where it starts, there are vague traces of it so I build a stone cairn to mark the spot.

SD687408

As I go downhill the now reedy rake becomes more discernable but difficult to walk on. It needs more traffic but most don’t know of its existence so I’ll report it in the hope of some maintenance by the forestry people, they should have reinstated it soon after their felling operations.

Coming down to the forest edge a stile allows me to walk along an old sunken, and boggy, track. There is a bench here remembering a Liverpool hiker. I stop for a snack looking out over the peaceful Chaigley countryside with old friends Waddington Fell and Pendle in the haze. I imagine how the man must have enjoyed his trips to this part of the country escaping the urbanity of his home city.

Sir Hugh will be pleased to read that my next destination after Turner Fold was Kemple End. Here I wander past the cottages to reach a path going down the fell. This path follows the line of an old sledge way used for taking stone down from the quarries here to Hurst Green for the construction of the Shireburn family’s great hall which became Stonyhurst College. On a whim I decide to take an unknown, to me, footpath leading more directly down the fields. I come out by a delightful farmhouse, Throstle Nest, tucked away from society. The owner is strimming his verges, I stop for a chat and to compliment him on his residence. I’m the first person he’s seen on the path for months. He laughs that last weekend he travelled to the Dales to climb Great Whernside but the car parks were packed and the Covid hordes all over the hills. He won’t be leaving his Lancashire haven again during the viral pandemic. Of course, we then get to pontificating on when and how it will end so I forget to take a picture of his house but his view is good.

The public footpath goes through an unusual squeeze wall and straight across the front of the Stonyhurst College giving up-close views of the architecture and a vista of the ponds and straight drive in the reverse direction.

By the church which is unfortunately closed, I have my next ‘virus’ conversation with a mother and daughter. The daughter is reading philosophy and French at Oxford and is due to start her year abroad in Nantes. The uncertainty of the pandemic is giving her a few extra worries.As there was nobody around I took the opportunity to have a look at the old mill restoration. It dates back to 1840 when it was powered by water from the ponds for flour milling. Later in the C19th a steam engine was installed. Last time I passed it was falling into disrepair but has since been fully restored to function as a retreat centre. Apparently there are remains of a fives court which I missed.

The field paths back to Hurst Green are busy as I’m now on part of the Tolkien Trail. It is conveniently thought that J R R Tolkien, whilst staying at the college where his son was a pupil, may have used the local countryside as inspiration for his popular Lord of the Rings. You enter into the village past some pretty cottages,

I have enjoyed this splendid outing showing some of the best scenery in this part of Lancashire and have gone into more detail than usual in the hope that some of you will be tempted to visit but maybe keeping to the well worn tracks.

Another version of this walk in reverse and including a bit of the Hodder is here.

*****

 

 

 

 

 

IS THERE LIFE ON MARS?

Today or was it yesterday, accompanied by the appropriate fanfares, a space mission has been launched from Cape Canaveral due to reach Mars in February 2021. Onboard is the Perseverance Rover.

According to NASA, the Perseverance Rover has four objectives supporting the program’s science goals:

Looking for Habitability: Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life
Seeking Biosignatures: Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time
Caching Samples: Collect core rock and “soil” samples and store them on the Martian surface
Preparing for Humans: Test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere

That all sounds wonderful and I’m the first to support scientific research to help mankind into the next century and beyond. None of us knows where these experiments may lead.

However, we may not get the results until halfway through the present century. The cost is billions.

So let us not lose sight of the fact we are in the middle of a viral pandemic which may yet destroy our civilisation. Earth is, again let’s not forget, experiencing global climate changes threatening to destroy our civilisation. Where is the resolve and expediency to solve those two problems? Politically we have failed to heed the medical evidence for the former and internationally we have all but given up, despite the diminutive Greta Thunberg, on the latter. Depressing thoughts I know.

So today’s news of the Mars probe doesn’t fill me with joy as it should. I’m not certain how the possible advances in science in 40 to 50 years will bring us back from the present catastrophe of our own making.

*

 

This morning a hedgehog wandered across my lawn, the first I’ve seen this year. Apparently, they are in serious decline. If we can’t protect this wonderful creature what is the point of going to Mars. 

So I’d like to re-phrase that question.  Is there life on earth?

*

And obliviously I can’t resist the girl with mousy hair but maybe we will never know.

STOCKS RESERVOIR – THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

Last week my planned trip to Stocks was aborted by a last-minute decision to walk up Croasdale. I was back today though and parked at a remote spot on the hill road from Slaidburn to Bentham just short of the Cross of Greet bridge over the River Hodder, yes I renew my acquaintance with this lovely river. The Hodder Valley up here was dammed in the 1920s to create Stocks Reservoir.  For an informative history, http://www.dalehead.org/ is worth consulting.

As is usual with my walks at the present I don’t set off till lunchtime when the weather is hopefully on the mend. Where I park, avoiding the busy honeypots, gives me easy access to the waymarked circular walk around the Reservoir. Incidentally, my last visit here with Sir Hugh and JD was last July almost to the day. That was a bright sunny day whereas today was dull and windy and I decided to walk anticlockwise for a change.

Immediately I was inserted into a procession of walkers who were already halfway round. It’s a busy Sunday. Behind me, a commotion erupted as a couple with a dog off the lead, despite all the notices, were frantically calling its name, Max, as it charged off after the sheep. They charged off after the dog and all ended up in a heap on the hillside, I had no sympathy and walked on.

The route I was walking was originally a rail track from a quarry providing stone for the dam. It took me past the fishermen’s cafe and centre, where I couldn’t resist a coffee, served with all the Covid precautions we are having to get used to.

Onwards past the stately mansion built by the waterboard.

From the dam I watched fishermen stood in the water or more sensibly sat in a boat, not a fish was landed.

After that were open meadows with views up the water. I would think it was fifty-fifty as to the number of walkers going my way and those completing the circuit clockwise. I’ve often debated on how we choose the way around a circular walk – prevailing weather conditions, the best views, ease of ascents, the guidebook description etc. I wonder if left-handers have a different mindset? Whatever my circuit today gave different aspects to previous visits.

At the road, I met all the mountain bikers spilling out of Gisburn Forest and all the cars parked in and out of the car park. The lockdown has highlighted selfish and illegal parking.

Once past the parking I had the trail to myself once again giving me time to nibble away at the abundant wild raspberries. United Utilities have done an excellent job of keeping us walkers off the road on a permissive path that has a good feel as it winds through the bushes.

Occasional walls remind one of the previous village that occupied this valley. I popped into one of the bird hides along here but not much was happening, cormorants were drying their wings on a promontory on the far side of the water and a kestrel was hunting closer by.

A steady pull up a lane brought me to the site of New House farm of which there is only a barn still standing, the web site I mentioned has photos of the old farms. Great views back down from up here over Stocks with Pendle in the distance.

I’m almost full circle but first, have to drop down to cross the footbridge over the River Hodder and climb up on a flagged path past more ruins to where I am parked.

Here I bizarrely meet a young lady with a baby in a pram and a couple of working dogs. , “He was teething so I’ve come out to settle him”,   She lives just up the lane in one of the most remote farmhouses in Lancashire, it was Yorkshire once. She bemoans the fact that the area is becoming more accessible and well known. there are even boy racers on the road.

*****

 

 

 

 

THE HODDER FROM BOTH SIDES.

                                                                       LOWER HODDER BRIDGE.

Back in time, the River Hodder was a boundary between Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire in these parts. The Upper and Lower Hodder bridges are inscribed accordingly and tonight I tread both sides.

My evening stroll starts from the Higher Hodder Bridge and follows the woods on the south side of the river. To be honest you don’t get good views of the river when the trees are in full leaf. I do however spot a fly fisherman wading in on the opposite side.

My path goes up and down to eventually arrive at the Stonyhurst Park Cross and on down to another cross which has been decapitated. Here a side stream is crossed by an ornate bridge and down below on the river banks are the remains of bathing huts used by pupils of Stonyhurst and the preparatory Hodder Place in past times. The river here has several natural weirs creating suitable bathing pools. It looked tempting today but I think a special trip is called for with support from like-minded friends.

 

Bathing Huts, Early C20.

There is a steep little climb away from the river towards Hodder Place [now residential apartments] but I didn’t think it was that steep…

A mile of easy walking alongside the Hodder brings one to the Lower Hodder Bridge and of course its historic companion ‘Cromwell’s Bridge’.  He is said to have marched his army over on the way to Stonyhurst and on to fight the Battle of Preston in 1648.  I do have to admire its shapely three arches. Across the bridge, a stile leads me into fields on what would have been the Yorkshire side. You climb high above the river which is not visible at this time of year through the trees. All is peaceful. This is all lovely walking country, green fields, grazing sheep and Lancashire hills. A contrast to the woods I’d walked through on the other side. The medieval Mitton Church could be seen across the way, that’s where I walked a couple of weeks ago by the River Ribble. The rivers meet less than a mile away.

A short stretch of road and I’m back in fields heading down to the Hodder again under Kemple End the eastern limit of Longridge Fell. The Higher Hodder bridge brings me back to my start point – I could almost walk it again.

The Hodder upstream.

                                                            HIGHER HODDER BRIDGE.

*****

COVID FREE CROASDALE – PURE NOSTALGIA.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be”  Douglas Adams.

After a late breakfast Sunday, I set off to Slaidburn for a gentle walk around Stocks Reservoir. I was enjoying the drive over with the roof down listening to the West Indians scoring too freely in the Test match. As I came over the rise on the road up from Cow Ark there in front of me were the Three Peaks of Yorkshire, a view I always thrill to. Out of the corner of my eye were the Bowland Fells, vying for attention. I was aware of the half-hidden valley of Croasdale and realised I hadn’t visited it for a year or so. A quick change of objective and I found myself parked up in that little pull off at the very top of Woodhouse Lane. I pondered on how many times I’ve parked there over the years especially in the early years of this century when we were developing the bouldering potential of the Bull Stones higher up the valley. We would race up the track to climb all-day and then most nights come down in the dark, we knew every twist of the route.

Of course, we were not the first to come this way. The Romans forged a road over the fells, probably adopting ancient ways, linking Ribchester with Carlisle. Some of the culverts on this The Hornby Road date back to the Romans. Later there was trade between the Monasteries of Yorkshire and the coast, wool one way and salt the other, hence the other name for this route, Salter Fell Track. A metal marker on the track commemorates the 400th year anniversary of the Lancashire Witches being dragged this way to their trial and execution in Lancaster.

It was a Lancashire Witches Walk waymark on the fell gate that reminded me of probably my last visit here whilst undertaking that excellent way. At the time a group of workmen were repairing a section of road just past the bridge. A gully was undermining the road and an expensive shoring up exercise was underway. That has been completed and the repairs extended up what was a very rough section of road by resurfacing with limestone chippings which look out of place in this gritstone environment. No doubt this has all been done using taxpayers funds and yet the only people to benefit from it are the shooting fraternity who have a lodge further up the track.

Few people walk up this valley and today the only people I see are motorcyclists who are able to travel right through from Slaidburn to Hornby a classic moorland journey. The man himself, A Wainwright described it as the best moorland walk in England although I’m not sure what he would have had to say regarding the motorcycles.

My more modest aim today is just to reach the gate near the summit and then traverse back along the hillside visiting the Bull Stones. I’ve brought my binoculars along as this area used to be a good place to see Hen Harriers, but alas no more due to persecution from ‘hands unknown’.  Many of you will know the story of Bowland Beth. So I don’t see harriers but I do spot a pair of kestrels, some stonechats and more excitedly two ring ouzels.

I sit under a favourite boulder and eat some lunch whilst gazing down the valley with Pendle in the far distance, there is not a soul in sight. The only sounds are the occasional bleating of sheep and the cries of seagulls which come inland here.

I continue along the edge of the rocks, past the spring of sparkling water where I know I can refresh myself even in the middle of summer. Around the corner, the continuation of the rocks is at a higher level and I make my way slowly up to them. I’m aiming for one particular group where there is a 50-degree slabby rock which we called ‘super slab’ on our first visit, I’m inclined to overdramatize but it is super. Perfect clean steep rock, rippled slightly with the odd pebble for a finger hold. 

Somebody produced a video featuring this slab so you can see what I’m going on about –

After lovingly fingering the start of the climb, I don’t have my rock shoes with me, I make my way to the end of the rocks, the Calf Stones.

Down below is that massive stone trough carved from an in-situ boulder. Time for another sit and contemplative look down the valley towards Pendle. I have time to examine the minutiae of the lichen growing into the gritstone.   I then head down to pick up a hidden sheep trod in the bracken that I know will take me across the rough hillside to join an estate track down to the ford. It had been at the back of my mind all afternoon as to whether I would be able to safely cross the stream here. One winter it was impossible and we had to make quite a detour to find a way across. Today, despite the recent rainfall and the stream flowing quickly, I seemed to just hop across.

Just follow the path.

Back on the main track, I had time to reminisce on times staying in the barn visible down below. It has been overhauled by United Utilities partly to preserve the unique sheepfolds that surround it.  Once with my eldest grandson, we had two nights there and were treated to hen harrier flypasts both evenings as we sat by a campfire eating baked beans and sausages, magic.

From up here, I could see in the distance a small section of Stocks reservoir where I could well have been. Another time.

*****

CHIPPING HIGH LANES.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her grave is situated near the old entrance – 

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

Sorry, I became rather distracted there.

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

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

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

Red Admiral.

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

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


*****

 

 

 

MY LIMESTONE NATURE RESERVE.

Not far away in Clitheroe are several nature reserves based on old limestone quarries. I have been jealous recently of the walks and discoveries of a fellow blogger in those reserves, especially the sight of a Bee Orchid!

Normally at this time of year I’m out in France at a friend’s house in the Lot area, The garden there and the surrounding countryside have provided me with lots of different orchids and other flora as well as interesting birdlife. Not to be this year.

I’ve not been driving far in lockdown and I keep on exploring places local to Longridge. Just down the road from me limestone comes to the surface in the Vale of Chipping and Whitewell area. Quite possibly the same series as over at Clitheroe when the whole area was under the sea, I’m no geologist. This set me thinking, plenty of time for that, why don’t I investigate further and see what I can discover. Of course, the weather has taken a turn for the worse but I manage a short initial visit to a nearby limestone quarry.

I have a little book Limekilns and Limeburning Around the Valleys of Hodder and Loud [a snazzy title]

Many farms burnt limestone, the lime being used to improve the land and in building mortar. So small limestone outcrops and kilns are commonplace. Later commercial activity developed [18 -19th century] and the book describes this at Arbour Quarry in Thornley. An early photograph shows a limekiln as a substantial structure within the quarry. Work probably stopped in the early 1900s.

I have vague memories of wandering through this quarry 30-40 years ago and there was a  limekiln in evidence. The book suggests there were two. Time to have another look.

The quarry is fenced off but a public footpath passes close by. I find a gate and walk in, a couple of roe deer disappear into the distance [a good start]. The quarry floor is a well-grassed over and there are mounds all around. At one end is a large pond with resident ducks. So where do I start? I can not see any obvious limekiln so I decide to wander about and look at the vegetation. Everywhere is very reedy and boggy, not like a limestone quarry at all. There are buttercups, hawkweeds, ragged robins and vetch in profusion and then I start to notice the orchids on the drier areas.

There are the, now obvious to me, Common Spotted Orchids but there are also some paler flowered ones with less distinctive markings. Take a picture and try and identify later. Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were everywhere.

Nothing else dramatic was obvious, my feet were getting wet, black clouds were zooming in – time to go. I had found some orchids but was no wiser as to the Limekilns. I need to do some research on the latter and return tomorrow.

Back home I look at some old OS maps –The limekiln appears to be in the NW corner of the quarry near the entrance. So this afternoon I  return to seek it out. I enter the quarry as before but now as I pass between mounds I look back up to the right and there is masonry. I scramble up and find a few rows of dressed stones which must have formed the top of the kiln as seen in the old picture. The top opening has been filled in.  I cannot find the apex stone depicted in the book, a lot of the stones will have been removed and used elsewhere. There are some remnants of a paved track going up the banking. What a shame this magnificent kiln wasn’t preserved.

I attempt to encircle the quarry looking for the kiln on the far side but end up in some very boggy ground and every mound is grassed over. Anyhow, I’m pleased to have found the main kiln.

I will come back on a dry, sunny day when it is less windy and the butterflies are on the wing. You never know I might find some other species of orchids.

 

CARR SIDE CATCHUP.

My last post looking at Carr Side Fishing Lakes left an unanswered question which some of you were concerned about. Does the public footpath continue past the lakes?

True to my word I was back there today to find out. Nobody had used the footpath down the field and with all the rain the little beck was overflowing, I managed to get my feet wet trying to jump it. I pushed through the gate as before and this time with jeans on battled through the nettles with indifference. The water’s edge seemed devoid of birds, perhaps they had heard me coming.

The map shows the FP going straight through the lakes, something I wasn’t prepared to do. So I followed the fishermen’s trail to the right past their little wooden hut. There was nobody about. I now came across a couple of green painted waymarks which I had missed before so I knew I was probably OK. Some rough ground was traversed above the first lake before dropping onto the trail around the second lake. Another waymark guided me to the exit gate through the boundary fence and out of the private property.

I was now in a small paddock which led to a conspicuous stile, another swollen stream was difficult to cross but then I could complete a short circular walk with no trouble. I passed the two Carr Side Farms and walked back along the road.

So I have to report there is no obstruction to the FP and in fact it is well waymarked and easy to follow. All the minor difficulties are in the adjoining fields where I ended up with wet feet!

Full marks to Carr Side Fishing Lakes.

 

Since I was last out the frothy heads of Meadowsweet seems to have come into bloom and there fragrance was noticeable in the hedgerows. I can still smell it now.