Tag Archives: Cycling

ON THE CUSP OF AUTUMN, MORECAMBE BAY AGAIN.

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We are on the cusp, one day distinctly chilly the next balmy sunshine. I’m confused,  already having titled posts the ‘End of Summer’ and ‘Autumn Calling’. But Summer is putting up a good fight with Autumn this year. Today was certainly on the side of Summer.

The bike is in the back of the car so why not go up to the Lune Valley, yet again you may say, but I do discover a few more gems.

Halton old station. Alas, the tea van is no longer here, probably finished for the season, hopefully she will return next year with that life giving coffee. The slipway is busy with university oarsmen and women out on the river for morning training. The old Station is now the center for the boat crews from the University. P1090410

I pedal a short distance to the magnificent Lune Aqueduct carrying the Lancaster Canal over the river. A steep ramp takes me up to it, and immediately I’m in a different environment. Interpretation boards detail the history of the aqueduct. Find it on Google. There is a metal plaque commemorating the building of the aqueduct, designed in collaboration between Central Lancaster High School and the artist, Rachel Midgley which I hadn’t spotted before.  All the hustle and bustle below has disappeared, and I’m off along the towpath into quiet Lancashire countryside.   A few miles of riding to where I know there is a link to the Coastal Bay Way.P1090442

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I’ve not done this ride in this direction before despite scores in the opposite way. It all looks different, and it gives me different perspectives of the canal and then of the Bay. I should have looked behind me on previous trips. The views across the bay to the Midland Hotel and pier and the distant Lakeland Hills are always quality.P1090422

Bracing is the term for Morecambe promenade today. There are white horses in the bay. But the sun is shining and the wind, though fresh, not a great hindrance to cycling. Hardy souls, mostly elderly and well wrapped, are out with their dogs.

I take a trip down the old stone jetty with its Cormorant motifs, but decide against a coffee there as the café is in the shade. Fortuitously I have come at the right tide as the Tidal Bell is tolling its mournful note. I have not heard this before. See here for more information. P1090438P1090435

Past the Midland yet again without visiting! Heading inland I venture into the wonders of the covered Festival Market and amidst the varied stalls, full of cost of living bargains, I find a bakery – time for my favourite – a cheese and onion slice. This one was top class, hence I will give them a plug.P1090439

I pedalled back to Lancaster, not in the panic mode of last time when I feared I had lost my phone and money. Over the Millennium Bridge and back to Halton. A lone canoeist is braving his way through the centre of town.

P1090440To lengthen the ride and enjoy the weather I continued to the Crook of Lune where the river does a U turn spanned by the two bridges of the old railway. Here is the lovely view up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough, immortalised by Turner who painted the scene from higher up. 

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I’m home early in time for a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge whilst the sun was keeping the rock warm. An invigorating day amongst those of lassitude and hospital appointments.

Lastly here is one more statue installation on the Bay that took my eye, I’ve not noticed before, and I can’t find anything about it.P1090429

BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY?

P1090394I wouldn’t normally dream of coming to Blackpool on a Bank Holiday Monday. Perhaps Sir Hugh’s recent mouth watering post on ‘fish and chips’ has subliminally decided for me.

There is very little traffic on the motorway, and I am able to park easily at Lytham which means I can start my ride in the opposite direction compared to my choosing the more usual plentiful parking at Fleetwood. I don’t actually reach Fleetwood today, content to turn around at Cleveleys to give a round trip of 30 miles.

There is always a breeze on the coast, and today it was north-westerly, meaning I cycled into it for the first part. No matter how gentle the wind is if you are facing it on a bike you are slowed down. Maybe I should shave my legs and beard to reduce wind resistance. The advantage was on the return leg when I sailed along at a much faster pace.

I didn’t expect really to feast on fish and chips today as I knew the cafés would be closed along with everything else. The Golden Mile – no blaring pop music, no loud bingo calls, no flashing lights to entice you into some dive or other, no ‘Kiss me quick’ hats. No ice cream and definitely no fish and chips. Not a queue in sight. The promenade was virtually empty of people, making cycling a lot less hazardous. Although it is amazing how much space a couple with dogs on long leads can occupy on a wide shared way.  I remember a phrase my parents used if they came across an empty or quiet situation where bustle was normally expected.  “Someone must have died

Of course this Bank Holiday wasn’t on my calendar in the first place. Someone must have died.

As I returned to Lytham more people were promenading and visiting the beach (the tide has been out all day) Families enjoying the late summer sunshine. Even the occasional ice cream appeared. You can’t watch TV all day.

[I stop to pick some Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) stems, not to eat though all parts of the plant are edible, but to collect some seeds. I would dearly love to have this bright yellow late flowering plant popping up in my borders as others die away. Once or more likely if, I have germinated some they should self perpetuate. Easy gardening.]

Tomorrow all will be back to normal, and we can start worrying about the state of our Great Britain under a new King and Parliament.

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Iconic Lytham Windmill.

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Empty promenade.

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Silent tower.

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Black Combe across the water.

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Our own flypast.

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Oenothera biennis.

PEACEFUL EASY LANCASHIRE.

I’ve got this peaceful easy feeling.

It is that sort of day; no wind, sun shining, rural Lancashire, the bike cruising effortlessly, no traffic, virtually no sounds. What more could you want. I’m on a linear canal ride where time has stood still, almost a parallel universe. The canal takes you along without you realising where you are in relation to familiar roads and settlements. I could be in Rotterdam or anywhere  – sorry that is a link to a recent post. But I meet people, interesting people in this parallel universe.

At the start I chat to an elderly cyclist who is setting off on his electric bike admitting it is heavy, and you can’t pedal it if the battery dies on you. He suggests that if you are over eighty then this is for you – well I have a few years of proper pedalling ahead of me. He speeds off and I never catch up.

There was the lady by the swans, they are here every year she says, using the canal towpath as a route to and from her shops. How lucky she is and I think she knew. There were seven cygnets, all strengthening their wings ready for a first flight, enchanting.

I pass, incognito, through Lancaster City at times elevated above the streets and housing. I have a picture in my mind of what would happen if the banks broke. That must be linked to my childhood stories of the little Dutch guy with his thumb in the leaking dam. Lots of the converted canal warehouses are now student accommodations, how lucky are they. There are some iconic canal features along here where the horses could cross from one side of the towpath to the other side without unhitching. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Now in the countryside I chat to a houseboat owner, probably a former dropout but now elevated in my esteem to an interesting canal dweller. He may have the advantage over the rest of us in our current cost of living crisis. How the worm turns. Drifter.

A dog walker talks of his previous life as a travelling rep. No more motorway hold-ups for him.

The towpath takes me through shady cuttings and open fields. I don’t look at my phone to see where I am, preferring to let things happen. I can’t get lost. A southerner recently moved to these parts is interested in my route, but I have the feeling he won’t be tackling anything more than a gentle walk to the pub. How judgemental is that?

It seems to take an age on rather overgrown and awkward paths, I’m not as agile on the bike as before, talking decades here, and I’m very wary of skidding off the path head first into the canal. I walk some of the way. Picking ripe sweet blackberries was a joy. I was in no rush.

Eventually I reach the junction with the Glasson canal built to link the port of Glasson with Lancaster. And then the railway came. More of that later.

I’m still in that peaceful easy feeling as I continue without meeting a soul through fields towards the coast. It was along here that I witnessed a heron trying to swallow a wriggly eel earlier this year.

Glasson is as busy as ever with motorcyclists and tourists of a certain age, so I head across the bridge to the little shop where I’m in time for one of their freshly baked cheese and onion slices. Sat in the sunshine with a coffee – perfect. It must be high tide as the lock gates to the ocean are open.

I’ve taken a long time to cycle 12 miles to Glasson, what with all the stops and awkward sections, but now it is head down on the old railway, which superceded the canal I’ve just been following. Back into Lancaster and on to Halton Station. That has set me up for autumn and thoughts of trans Pennine trails.

I switch the radio on when I’m in my car, but this time there is no déjà vu link to the Eagles from way back then. Here it is nonetheless.  I may have played this before in other contexts, but it is a favourite of mine and perfectly reflected this sunny day’s ride. California dreaming.

I highly recommend this 20 mile off-road circuit, after a short ascent to reach the Lancaster Canal on the period Aqueduct it is flat all the way even if a little rough towards Galgate. The section to Glasson is totally rural and as peaceful as you could wish.

CaptureGlasson.

IS CYCLING DANGEROUS?

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I had an uneventful trip around the Guild Wheel yesterday. I can cycle 20 miles or so without any problem to my knee but can’t walk 4 miles, all to do with weight-bearing. So here I am back at my start, Red Scar, for another muscle strengthening ride. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the motorway system at present, so I’m staying local. The Wheel here takes you along the access road to Preston Crematorium which brings back many sad thoughts of departed friends. I’ve only gone a few hundred yards when ahead of me is a cluster of police cars and ambulances. How can this be on this dead end quiet lane?

A father and daughter were out for a gentle safe ride along the wheel. A stressed inattentive car driver travelling at speed on the wrong side of the road. Result one seriously injured cyclist and one very scared daughter. The dent in the car windscreen said it all. I hope the cyclist is OK.

I turn around and cycle back home.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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                                                                          A misty Morecambe Bay.

I know this man walking along the prom, even from the back, it is Peter out with his Thursday walkers. The bad weather has driven them out of the Lakes for a more gentle low level coastal walk from Morecambe to Hest Bank. He is as surprised to see me as I of him. I cycle alongside chatting until we catch up with his mates. He suggests I call and see his wife and him before they go off to Rotterdam next week. The song Rotterdam immediately comes into my head, it is still there. My attempt to sing it is derided, but one of his friends remembers it – The Beautiful South from the 90’s. I ride on to ‘Rotterdam or anywhere’  leaving them to their casual strolling. 

I’m on a mission. You may remember my last cycle outing was aborted and ended up with a rapid return to find my phone with credit card lying on the roof of my car, absent-mindedly left there earlier in the day. Today I’m hoping to reach Over Kellet and visit friends. 

The girl in the tea van wishes me well and gently reminds me to look after my possessions. It is raining and at the back of my mind is the thought of thunderstorms later in the day which wouldn’t be fun on a bike – I can always abort once more. The thin cycling waterproof (more of a windproof) won’t keep the rain out for long, and I’m already damp as I arrive onto the prom at Morecambe. Where is that famous view across the bay?  Hidden in the mist. So head down I cycle on, pausing for the brief encounter mentioned above, and onto the Lancaster Canal at Hest Bank. This was the point of decision, cycle back to Lancaster if the weather was still dubious or head north to Carnforth and the Kellets. I thought I detected some brightness so north it was. This is a grand stretch of canal high above the coastal strip. It was farther to Carnforth than I remembered. The last time I waked along here incidentally was with aforementioned Peter and JD, 2018.

Eventually I leave the canal onto roads and cycle steadily uphill into Over Kellet. I reach my friends’ house just as the next downpour starts – of course they are not in, so I take shelter under their garden umbrella. That is where they find me when they return from the shops and take pity on me with cups of tea and cake, and a good drying round their Aga. I’ve shared many exciting climbing escapades with John in the past until injuries prevented him climbing – but not before he had led the difficult Kipling Groove on Gimmer on his 65th birthday, he only seconded it on his 70th. Two hours later I set forth on delightful undulating lanes in the Limestone country surrounding the Kellets. At one point the road is blocked to cars by a large hedge cutting tractor. I can get by but then spend an anxious time hoping I don’t puncture on all the hawthorn cuttings. Fortunately I escape that fate and drop into Halton to cross the narrow recycled Greyhound Bridge, Penny Bridge to the south bank of the Lune. As is becoming usual mine is the last car in the car park at Halton station. 

The day is not over. When I start the engine and switch on the radio the song that is playing is unbelievably Rotterdam. Yes the one I’d tried to sing to Peter earlier in the day. What is the chance of that one song coming up as soon as I listen in? I sit there transfixed with the tune, the lyrics are more pithy than I remember.

The Beautiful South – Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) (LYRICS) – YouTube  Skip the dreaded adverts.

Still astonished by the coincidence I take to the motorway but feel I have to divert to visit Peter and his wife to tell them of the spooky Rotterdam connection and wish them a good holiday there. More cups of tea and cake follow. They are very generous with their abundant garden vegetables and I come away with a bunch of fresh produce and more importantly home laid Quail eggs for my breakfast the next day. A ratio of four quails (all yoke) to one hen gives a good scrambled mixture.20220909_111152

Not bad for a day of only 20 miles cycled. I enclose a map to show the delightful lanes around the Kellets. The elevation profile is interesting, a day of two halves.

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CaptureKellletts.

THE END OF SUMMER?

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As I start to write this the rain has finally arrived, but not the thundery downpours forecast, which we badly need. Or at least my garden does, although ‘up north’ we are not as dessicated as ‘down south’.

Trying to make the best of the possibly last good weather I’ve had two contrasting outings at the beginning of September.

The day after my trip around the Guild Wheel the first didn’t go to plan. The plan being to park up at my usual spot by the old Halton station on the Lune; cycle via Lancaster to Morecambe, on to Carnforth, up to visit friends in Over Kellet and follow the lanes back to the bridge at Halton which has just reopened after some refurbishments. The lovely lady at the mobile tea van was telling me about children stealing her drinks and probably terrifying her. She had photos which she handed to the police, but it is doubtful that any resolution has been achieved. How often do we here that the police have their hands tied when dealing with juvenile crimes. Which is the party of law and order? Years of Tory austerity has decimated the police force. I digress.

I unload my cycle whilst drinking my coffee, checked I had everything, give her a cheery wave, and I’m off along the old railway. There are not so many people about, so I make good progress into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and on to Morecambe. I stop at a seat on the promenade to take in those expansive views across the Bay to the Lakes, the tide is well out exposing endless stretches of sand. Why not go down the Stone Jetty and have a drink at the café there, which I have not previously visited. (I’ve still not visited the upmarket art deco Midland.)

But where is my phone with my credit card. I frantically search my bike bag, tipping it out on a table. My version of panic sets in , more disbelief than anything – it’s not life or death after all. I summon up some logic. Did I leave it at that first bench on the prom? Did I leave it in the car park? Could it be still be in the car? Thoughts of continuing my planned jaunt are quickly squashed as I imagine someone happily spending money on my credit card and accessing information on the phone, we are very vulnerable these days. 

So back to the bench where a family are now seated. No they didn’t see anything, would I like them to phone my number? On balance, I thought not as it could alert some undesirable to find it. Time for that later in the search. Let’s get back to Halton and hope for the best, it may have been handed into the tea van lady. I cycle the seven miles much faster than usual, OK there is some panic, and soon arrive at the car park. No it’s not anywhere inside the car. Moving to the other side I spot it sitting quite proudly on the roof!  What luck? Wow, what a relief.

Time for another coffee and a relaxing sit down. The tea van lady is surprised to see me back so soon. I call it a day and drive home where I am hopefully safe from my stupidity. Not what I had planned.

The next day I arrange to meet up with M at our secret new crag which we are slowly exploring and developing. It could not have gone better, M leading two classy new routes and me cleaning a soaring crack line for next time. I would like to tell you more, but I’m sworn to secrecy. 

There are no photos of the Morecambe trip because I’d lost my phone and I can only give you a shady glimpse of the climbing.

I’ve just seen the updated forecast and next week is mainly dry, giving a little more of Summer. Time to conclude my aborted cycle ride and maybe later get out with M on the rock.

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For next time?

A SMALL STRETCH OF COAST.

P1090292I’ve just cycled a 16mile stretch of the Fylde coast, Fleetwood to St. Annes and then back again. As I’m putting my bike back in the car I spot a heavily laden touring cyclist.

“Have you come far?” I ask.

“Yes I’m cycling around the coast of Britain”

“Gosh – For charity?” I ask seeing the Multiple Sclerosis logos on her T-shirt.

It turns out that Lis has been diagnosed with MS in 2013 but is determined to complete this 6000mile challenge to raise funds for the MS Trust as well as benefiting her own health. She is amazing, full of enthusiasm after three and a half months pedalling. We swap a few stories, I donate to her charity, and she cycles on towards Blackpool and then Preston.  The balloons on her bike celebrating her 50th birthday today. I’m well and truly humbled with my small stretch of coast.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LisvanLyndenP1090282

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My day started when my clandestine climbing partner phoned to say he might have caught Covid on his recent trip to Montenegro and didn’t think he should go climbing. Neither did I.

The bike was already in the back of the car, and soon I was on the M55 heading to the Fylde. The traffic was heavy, I wondered about the possible bank holiday crowds on the promenade in Blackpool. However, parking at Fleetwood sea front is always easy. I pedalled down the coast, had a snack at St. Annes and pedalled back against the wind. The only busy spots were between the tower and the pleasure beach. ‘Kiss me quick’  hats de rigueur.

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Empty prom north of Blackpool.

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Crowds thinning out on St. Annes beach.

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Heading back to Fleetwood.

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‘Steampacket’ to Ireland passing Black Combe and Barrow.

Job done – well not quite. In the week I had listened on Radio Lancashire about the unveiling of a memorial to a lost trawler boat, the Goth.

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                                                                                 GOTH.

The trawler, the Goth, failed to return in December 1948, 21 men were lost in a fierce storm off Iceland. Then 50 years later the funnel of this vessel was trawled up in the net of an Icelandic boat, Helga. The Goth’s last resting place is now known. The funnel had eventually been brought back to Fleetwood – to become a lasting memorial. It survives as a reminder of the Fleetwood fishing community and a way of life of courage, comradeship, generosity and good humour.

Fleetwood at one time was a major port, the third largest in Britain, for the trawler industry, no longer alas. On the seafront where I park are several reminders of the hardships and losses of these seagoing boats and crews.

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Welcome Home. Anita Lafford

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Past this place, the fishermen of Fleetwood have sailed for generations while their families watched from the shore. Their courage and comradeship under hardship is a living legend. This memorial, depicting equipment from a trawler, was placed here in recognition of the great contribution which the men and women of the fishing community have made to the life of Fleetwood.

The plaque lists 39 trawlers lost in 50 years with an awful loss of lives which can be seen if you click and enlarge this photo  —P1090287

But there was no sign of Goth’s funnel along the seafront with the other tributes, I have to ask a local where the memorial funnel is located. He somewhat ashamedly tells me it is on an inland roundabout next to Asda! I drive there and park up. A grotty path around the side of the supermarket takes me to the edge of the busy roundabout. And yes here is the memorial funnel squeezed ingloriously into the roadside.

P1090234P1090231P1090235 I can only assume that the cooperative cash of Asda has paid for this location. But how on earth has it been approved – nobody can see it. I challenge Wyre Council to come up with a decent reason. How much better if it had been located on the sea front or at the Mount park for all to appreciate. Lunacy.

One day I will find time to visit the Museum housed in one of the oldest houses of Fleetwood.

PROMENADING.

20220821_123316I’ve cycled this route several times in the last few years but there seemed to be a lot more happening today.

After all the talk of electric bikes on my last post the first person I met today was trying out an electric folding Brompton Bike, one of those iconic designs with small wheels.£3000+ worth. I don’t think small wheels would cope with some of the terrain I cover, more of an urban machine, but I complimented him on his purchase. I’m still undecided.

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This was all whilst enjoying a good coffee from the friendly mobile kiosk at Halton Station on the old Morecambe to Wennington line. I’ve just come across this bit of history – The original timber station was destroyed by fire on 3 April 1907. A spark from the engine of a passing Heysham–St Pancras boat train set fire to a wagon of oil drums by the goods shed. The fire brigade were unable to cross the narrow bridge, and it was left to a special trainload of railway workers from Lancaster to pass buckets of water from the river. The station was rebuilt in brick and timber and the building survives to this day, used as storage by Lancaster University Rowing Club, with a public car park occupying the former track bed.

There was a running event on and hundreds of runners kept appearing from the Caton end and disappearing towards Lancaster. I recognised many of the local athletic club vests as I watched them go by. I unloaded my bike, gave the tyres a quick pump, and set off in pursuit. Turned out there was both a 10-mile and a 20-mile event on. The track became a little congested with runners, cyclists, dog walkers and pram pushers but everyone was in good humour. The 20mile run crossed the Millennium Bridge towards Morecambe, which was my chosen route for today having gone to Glasson Dock last week. At some stage things became more congested as the quicker runners after a turn around were now heading towards me for the finish at a quick pace.

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Passing Halton Station and tea van.

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The Millennium Bridge over the Lune.

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Heading back towards the 20mile finish.

When I arrived at Morecambe sea front the tide was the furthest out I’d seen it, acres of clean sand. The Midland Hotel looked busy with diners, I promised myself a visit to this iconic Art Deco building when I’m passing midweek later in the year. Would it be a full lunch or just the equally full afternoon tea?

Interestingly I mentioned on my recent visit to the Maritime Museum the in-depth history of the area including Morecambe’s ups and downs. The 1920/30’s super lido, which brought in the tourists, closed in 1975 and then demolished, was adjacent to the Midland Hotel roughly on the site of the proposed Eden Project – “what goes around comes around”. My heading photo shows the spot.

I’d never been to the far end of the  ‘stone pier’  so off I pedalled, past the old station and lighthouse, now a cafe, to the very end which as the tide was at its lowest stuck out into the sands. A few fishermen had set up their positions waiting for the tide to return. They, a friendly trio from Middlesborough, hoped to catch ‘gummy sharks’ so named , thank God for those paddling in the bay, because they have no teeth. They showed me photos of previously landed 20lb specimens. I forgot to ask them what they did with any fish they caught, throw back or take home for supper?

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For a sunny holiday Sunday I expected the promenade to be far busier than it was. To be fair there were long queues at the fish and chip cafes, and it was busy as ever around Eric’s statue. Otherwise, my cycle up the prom to Happy Mount Park and beyond was a delight with those far-reaching views across the bay to the Lakeland hills. I stopped briefly on the canal for a snack and soon found myself crossing the atmospheric aqueduct high above the River Lune, and then back to my car.

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Promenading.

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The Lune Aqueduct.

The day was not yet over. A quick phone call confirmed Sir Hugh was at home and willing to receive visitors. Back onto the motorway via that tricky junction 34 up to Milnthorpe and Arnside. On my arrival my friend was up a non too secure ladder trimming his high hedge, he didn’t need a lot of persuading to come down and serve a grand cup of tea. We caught up on our recent none adventures, we have both simultaneously come to a virtual halt.

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The reluctant gardener.

But the highlight of the day was to come. Over the last few years he has taken to plastic modelling; planes, boats and cars but as yet no trains. I have gently cast sarcastic doubts over this clandestine activity. But on a recent comment to his blog I mentioned my almost ‘classic’ car and true to form he presented me with a scale model of my Mazda MX5, spayed in the identical blue. That’s what friends are for. Thanks very much.20220821_143635

LANCASTER MARITIME MUSEUM BY DEFAULT.

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My bike has lain in the back of my estate car since early June when the day after a ride in Morecambe Covid eventually caught up with me, but that’s another story. Today was my first ride since then. I was pleased with my progress to Glasson Dock along the Lancaster Cycleway on the old railway track. A cheese and onion slice at the wonderful village shop went down a treat. Forget the touristy snack bar on the marina. I watched the children ( and their Dads) catching crabs from the dockside. All I had to do was cycle back the 10 miles to Halton.

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Lunch at the village shop.

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Quayside fishing,

 

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Crabs galore.

 

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The motor cyclists hang out.

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Down a side street – do you remember these?

The only excitement along the way was a lady cyclist who came past me remarkably quickly. Of course, she was on an electric bike and disappeared into the distance. That set me thinking. 

  1. Would it be worth buying one, how long does the battery last, how heavy are they? For me, one would only be useful for that extra push up the hills that I find increasingly difficult.
  2. How legal are they on cycleways shared by pedestrians? One would not be allowed a motorcycle on a cycle/pedestrian route. Apparently in cities they are becoming the transport of choice for muggers snatching valuables – silent assassins.

I pedalled sedately along into Lancaster. How many times have I been past the Maritime Museum and never visited it? I was in no rush so decided there and then to rectify that omission. They kindly allowed me to take my bike inside as I didn’t have a lock. £2 admission fee seemed very reasonable, if I had carried my Art Fund Card with me, it would have been cheaper.

One and a half hours later I emerged from the museum well satisfied. It is based in the original Lancaster Docks C18th Custom House and an enjoining warehouse overlooking the Lune on St. George’s Quay. (header photo)

Before Lancaster Port and Glasson Dock were established Sunderland Point was the main port on the Lune.

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The harbour front Sunderland Point.

 

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Unloading cargo at Sunderland Point, c1890

There were extensive and informative displays on the history of the port of Lancaster, focused on the transatlantic trade which made the city prosperous. This obviously involved the slave trade picking up Africans cheaply and transporting them inhumanly to the West Indies for profit and then the goods that then came back to Britain – sugar, rum, cotton, timber, tobacco. Ship building became a significant industry in the area and a furniture making firm Gillow’s established itself in the C18th. Felt hats were manufactured in Lancaster which I didn’t know. All these facets of life in Lancaster were thoroughly explained with a great selection of artefacts and photographs.

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The price of a slave.

 

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Cotton and rum in the warehouse.

There was detailed information on the history of the local fishing industries. Salmon from the Lune, Shrimps, cockles and mussels from Morecambe Bay.

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Cockling, Morecambe Bay.

 

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Salmon fishing in the Lune with haaf nets.

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A fisherman’s cottage.

 

The perilous sands of Morecambe Bay were explored with mentions of the ancient crossing routes, still possible today with a local guide. The many deaths though were highlighted.

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From a gravestone in Ulverston.

Morecambe had its own history from a minor fishing port, to a passenger port for the Isle of Man and Ireland, a bustling early and mid C20th holiday resort (Bradford by the Sea) and the development of the port of Heysham not forgetting its nuclear power stations. All presented with excellent interpretation and original artefacts.20220817_151740

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The ‘super’ lido.

Aqua-Loonies

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Painting by Norman Wilkinson.

The coming of the canals and the railways was well documented. Included were the original plans for an Aqueduct over the Ribble at Preston to connect to the Leeds Liverpool Canal, this never was materialised, and instead the tram bridge was constructed. The latter is currently closed due to safety issues and one wonders whether there is the will or the finance to repair this historic structure. I was impressed with the ‘express’ passenger canal barge preserved in an upper room, these, with regularly changed horses, reduced the time of travel on the Lancaster Canal when coach travel on rutted roads was slow and uncomfortable.

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Inside an express canal barge.

A lot of the exhibits were to attract children with interactive features, but this didn’t distract from the amount of serious, learned and well presented history throughout.

In a room in the warehouse section I watched a video detailing the history of Lancaster since Roman times. Well worth the time. By then the café had closed, and they were ready to throw me out at 4pm closing time. Highly recommended, and you need a couple of hours in there to appreciate all the exhibits.20220817_153242

I was the last car at the Halton Station.

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe bay and beyond, continued.

Crawling out from under my rock I wonder where a week has gone. It went in a haze of Covid fever, headache, cough and abdominal pains which laid me lower than expected. I could hardly read others posts never mind complete my own. I’m not at my best.

***

June 14th. 2022.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Parking up at Halton Station in preparation for a cycle ride around Morecambe Bay. Post coffee I’m off, so good to be out again feeling free as a bird. Into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and out to Morecambe. I take a bit of detour past the football ground to arrive at the coast in the West End near the site of a former pier. The view out over the bay is clear, but everything seems at a great distance. I soon pass the Midland Hotel, one day I will call in for tea, and continue up the promenade without stopping at the various attractions.

West End Sculpture.

I’ve been this way so many times before, I even know the way from the end of the prom to reach the Lancaster Canal. Normally I turn south here but today to vary my route I head north alongside the canal. This is a delightful stretch with the canal elevated above the surrounding countryside. Below are Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, and father out are the treacherous sands of the 2004 cockling disaster when 21 illegal Chinese immigrants lost their lives. We still don’t know how to manage the flow of immigrants into our country.

I have to be careful to leave the towpath at the correct spot, not signed, to pick up the 700 cycle route which could eventually take me, if I wished, all the way around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston and Walney Island, Barrow. Today I only went as far as the River Keer and its eponymous bridge. Whenever I’m here I can’t help thinking of The Bridge on the River Kwai and start whistling Colonel Bogey. Obviously the name of the bridge and its wooden structure set my mind into action. So much so that I paused my writing here a couple of hours ago to watch the 1957 film starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins on Vimeo. I had forgotten how good it was, building up the tension and reflecting on the British character and psychology in times of war. Directed by David Lean, arguably his best film was a few years later – Lawrence of Arabia. We will shortly come across his name once more. It is worth your time to watch again and revaluate    https://ok.ru/video/2090020047523

The Bridge on the River Keer.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Coming alongside the diminutive River Keer into the railway town of Carnforth. The railway station is on the main west coast line with branches to the Cumbrian Coast and inland to Skipton, a busy junction. Most of the main line expresses cruise through at speeds unimaginable at the time of the fictional ‘Milford Junction’ just pre-WWII. It was here that David Lean directed much of the romance of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Carnforth has capitalised on the ongoing success of the film and a Heritage Centre has been created on the platform – all things railway and cinema. Here I go again – diverted to watching a tormented Celia Johnson and a rather wooden Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter on the computer. I’m now an emotional mess, must have been  the Rachmaninoff. I’ll never finish this post.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Enjoying a cup of tea at the famous waiting room. I had time to drift back in time as the pot of tea took an age to arrive. On my way again I now followed the 90 (Lancashire Cycleway) up to sleepy Nether Kellet now high in this range of unnamed low hills.  Views back to the Bay with the Lakeland Hills behind and ahead over Lancaster and the Bowland Hills. Whizzing down I missed my turn and ended up alongside a military training centre above the Lune. All barbed wire, locked gates and grey paint. Halton village had some old properties previously related to a now demolished Halton Hall, worth a more detailed visit. Back over the Lune I was the last car in the car park and drove home tired but contented not knowing what was ahead.

More variations and suggestions on cycling Morecambe Bay, very satisfying.

***

***

Further to some comments below on this post, here are a couple of phone photos taken by my son on the canal in Stretford. Bee Orchids.

***

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe Bay and beyond?

June 14th. 2022.

A couple of weeks go by with more minor injuries preventing walking far – so time to get back on the bike. The problem was where should I go – my easy routes are becoming repetitive. After a few days bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge I feel rather stiff and lethargic this morning. Before you ask, although walking is painful I am able to do low level bouldering as long as I don’t jump off or more likely fall off. Anyhow, I have survived and need a longer day’s exercise, the wind has dropped so out comes the cycle, or rather in goes the cycle, into the cavernous boot of my estate car. No need to dismantle anything which could later cause me problems of a mechanical nature. Every cycle ride I do my heart is in my mouth expecting some failure which my limited mechanical abilities could not solve, leading to a long walk. I’m surprised there isn’t a breakdown service available to cyclists.

I’ve spotted, on the cycling map, a Route 90 that will give me a circular ride after I’ve progressed up Morecambe Bay to Carnforth. As I said, feeling lethargic I didn’t get going until lunchtime but once more I’m in the parking at old Halton station. I grab a coffee from the convenient snack van ready for the off along the familiar lines through Lancaster to Morecambe…

***

I’ve not felt well for a couple of days, head cold, sore throat, chesty cough, dizziness,bowel and bladder irritation and as I commence to write up yesterday’s completed excursion here this morning I feel distinctly worse. Time for a Covid test.

I’m going to bed so will catch up with you later.

FLAG WAVING IN BLACKPOOL.

 

 

I was confused by the rash of Bank Holidays and Jubilee Festivities and found myself in the midst of Blackpool’s celebrational party, and they know how to party here. The crowds were too thick to cycle through safely, I was returning from Lytham to Fleetwood on the promenade. This was my first time out on the bike since my collision here which resulted in torn knee ligaments. I was being extra careful. 

I had accomplished my mission to visit the Mussel Tank which I’ve passed so many times without realising it was there, thanks to Shazza for highlighting it. There is some purpose to blogging after all. The tanks, built in 1934, were used for cleaning the mussels harvested from the muddy Ribble Estuary. By the mid 1950s the beds closed down, mainly  because of changes in the Ribble channel affecting restocking. There were three tanks. A cleansing tank now the RNLI, a chlorination tank now the Ribble Cruising Club and the storage tank now the Mussel Tank which has been given a face lift as an open space for public enjoyment. There are interpretation plaques about the mussel trade, an art wall displaying ceramic tiles portraying local features produced by students at Lytham Sixth Form College. There’s also a large-scale mussel sculpture by a Martyn Bednarczuk which I thought resembled a smiling dolphin rather than a mussel.

 

One of the original tanks. Lytham St Annes Civic Society

I was glad to see that they had restored the sails on the iconic windmill.

Nearby was an installation by Tom Dagnall reflecting on the diversity of the SSSI Ribble Estuary.

It was time for an excellent coffee break in St. Annes.

There seemed to be an awful lot of people on the prom in the vicinity of the tower. I just assumed Jubilee celebrations but as I cycled on there were more and more camera clutching folk by the tram line.

I stopped to enquire and was informed of a parade of trams from the past. Nothing seemed to be happening, so I cycled on keeping to the higher way alongside the tramline. Eventually the parade arrived. A motley collection of Blackpool trams and an exquisite turn of the century Bolton tram. There was a lot of flag waving from the passengers, they must have thought me a misery. The photos may mean something to someone.

I made it back in one piece, quite pleased with the 30 odd miles I’d cycled.

THE FYLDE AGAIN.

I’m back again, this time on my cycle. There is a place I want to visit in Lytham, the historic mussel tanks, which were highlighted by shazza in a recent post. I knew nothing of them before. To make a day of it, I decided to park at Fleetwood and cycle down to Lytham and back along the promenades. Parking is easy in Fleetwood and the wind was coming from the south, so I would have it behind me on the return leg. Things didn’t go to plan.

I’ve not been on my bike for weeks due to problems too personal to mention.

I pedalled out of Fleetwood and immediately found the headwind stronger than I was expecting.  Never mind, head down and push harder.

The tide was going out and in these northern reaches I virtually had the promenade to myself. I’ve ridden this stretch several times, so I didn’t stop for photography, I only had my phone. (I have included a couple of the concrete murals at Cleveleys) One has to keep one’s wits about one as there are several layers of promenade and the drop-offs are not always obvious. Dog walkers are the major hazard with those long leads, but I share the space happily and patiently. Blackpool Tower came into view halfway to Lytham. The prom became busier with out-of-season visitors, although Blackpool looks even seedier in the winter months, when many businesses are boarded up. The fun starts at Easter.

Onwards past the Golden Mile and the Pleasure Beach’s empty rides. I cycled around the end of the tram terminus and found the way was discontinued. I was looking for a way through when I came into conversation with a lady resting on a bench. She warned me that the route into St. Annes was under major roadworks and the cycle way was closed. I could have found a way along the road, but she insisted it was unpleasant with heavy traffic. I didn’t need much persuading to turn around and have the wind behind me for a while.

What a difference, instead of struggling along trying to keep up 10mph, I was flying along effortlessly at 15+ mph. Maybe that was my downfall. As I approached South Pier, a large workers’ van was parked across the prom and as I swerved around it, I met at speed another cyclist swerving towards me. Next thing, I was over the handlebars, feeling shaken and a little foolish. His front wheel took the brunt of the collision and looked worse for wear. Introductions over, we sorted his bike, a ‘racing machine’ which was no match for my  ‘mountain bike’. All was well as we chatted about common causes, and then we pedalled off in opposite directions. Not the meeting I wanted.

I was soon back into Fleetwood and was glad to stop off at Dave’s Café  for toasted teacake and coffee. Then I was loading my bike back into the car for the return journey home. Mission unaccomplished, but a welcome diversion in the sunshine from all our present  problems.

LANCASTER, CANALS AND COAST.

I used the abandoned railways of Lancaster for several cycle rides last year, and today I wanted to include the Lancaster Canal in a more varied circuit. Down the Lancaster Canal towpath, along the Glasson Link, take the old railway along the Lune Estuary, old railway to Morecambe, sea front to Hest Bank and complete back on the Lancaster Canal to the aqueduct over the Lune. Almost a figure of eight. Perhaps the map will explain what I intended.

I park up, as usual, at old Halton station. The area is busy with university oarpersons. I have to ride a couple of miles to join the canal at the Lune Aqueduct. I notice for the first time some exclusive looking riverside houses on the far bank, foliage normally obstructs the view. The air is still, allowing various strong aromas to float across from the adjacent industrial units; a hoppy smell, acetone and rubber. These are the only clues as to what transpires behind closed doors. I wonder what finds its way into the river.

You may remember me writing last October about ‘a good Samaritan’ who came to my aid, or more correctly my bike’s. Well, there he is again, I don’t need assistance today but stop for a chat, like old friends, and a photo.

I don’t stop for many other photos after that, as I have documented the area well on other walks.1  2  3  4

There is a ramp leading up to the elevated canal right next to the Aqueduct. A well surfaced towpath leads me quickly through the centre of the city, passing the cathedral and warehouses on the way. I use a couple of crossover bridges which used to take the barge horses over without the need for uncoupling.

Soon I’m out into the countryside and the first people I meet are from my home village, walking the canal in stages, From here on I’m struggling. The towpath is very muddy and narrow. My tyres don’t grip and I slip and slide about, feeling in danger of a headlong dive into the canal. I walk the worst stretches.

Turning off onto the side canal to Glasson brings the same problems with the mud. There are six flights of locks on this stretch. I’m relieved and weary, arriving at Glasson Dock. I head straight over the bridge to my favourite café shop for a welcome rest, coffee and homemade pie, late breakfast/early lunch. I haven’t come far, but my average speed is well below 10mph.

Refreshed, I join the rail track alongside the estuary, the tide is out, for a much quicker ride back into the city. I pass right in front of the old warehouses, Harbour Master’s office and waterfront pubs of the renovated St. George’s Quay I need to explore this area of Lancaster more, the celebrated Maritime Museum is housed here. Ahead is the Millennium Bridge, which takes me across the Lune and onto the familiar rail track to Morecambe. St. George’s Quay is better viewed from this side.

Spot the shopping trolley.

The front at Morecambe is quiet, I have a quick ride down the stone pier before following the Bay around to Hest Bank. Side-streets take me back onto the Lancaster Canal and a much better towpath all the way to the balustraded Lune Aqueduct.

I’m pleased overall with this 28 mile circuit, level all the way with plenty of interest and of course those incomparable views across the bay. The second half of the ride has thankfully been far easier than those muddy canal paths to Glasson, for which I need to find an alternative before next time.

CYCLING AROUND FARLETON FELL.

I enjoy reading several blogs which have an affinity to my interests and location. I subscribe to a dozen or so and comment regularly, encouragement is always welcome. One such blog is beating the bounds where Mark writes about walking and nature with excellent wild life photography. He is often way behind with his reports and wrote recently of a cycle ride he almost completed, puncture problem, last August. It struck me as being an interesting ride on unfrequented lanes, and so today I parked up at Beetham Corn Mill for a similar journey.

The day was sunny with little wind, and the mist was just clearing from the valley bottoms as I set off. The garden centre was doing a roaring trade, judging by the number of parked cars. The lane was closed a little farther on, but I managed to squeeze past the tarmackers. Over the railway, motorway and canal, this is a major south north communication corridor, I turned onto a quiet lane through the dozen or so habitations that make up Farleton Village. As one proceeds up the motorway, the bulk of Farleton Fell is a landmark to the east.It rises steeply in bands of limestone with prominent scree slopes. There is climbing on the crags, but they were high on the skyline from my present viewpoint. I was going to loop around the northern nose of the fell.

A narrow gated road climbs and cuts across the northern slopes, one would be foolish to come this way in a family car. I did get off and push the steepest section, but then followed a lovely undulating ride through this elevated limestone land, passing the occasional remote farm. The Barbon and Casterton fells were in haze, and I could just make out Ingleborough in the distance. We are just on the edge of the Lake District here, but the high fells were hiding.

A high lane bisects the Farleton and Hutton Roof crags, one for another time. I continued into the hamlet of Hutton Roof. Stopping at the small St. John’s Church, built in 1880–81. The architects were the prolific Lancaster partnership of Paley and Austin whom I keep coming across throughout the NW. It replaced an earlier chapel from1757. The church was closed, but I had a look around the graveyard and came across a roughly hewn limestone memorial with the names of those from the Parish killed in World War One. The vicar of the church at that time was Rev Theodore Bayley Hardy. As chaplain to the British Army, Hardy was the most decorated non-combatant in the First World War, receiving the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross for the unselfish assistance he gave to the wounded. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Hardy is worth a read, without wishing to glorify war what a contrast of dedication and humanity compared to some of our present day leaders.

The village of Hutton Roof is one street of farmhouses and stone cottages. We used to park here before taking the steep track up through the bracken to reach the extensive bands of limestone craglets which were a joy to boulder on as the sun set in the west.

It was mainly all downhill now to Burton-in-Kendal, although I did take the little lane through sleepy Dalton en-route, which gave me views to the southwest side of Farleton Fell. Burton was a staging post on the road going north and has some fine C17 and C18th buildings. On the outskirts of town is one of those signposts dating from when this area was Westmorland.

Back across the motorway, canal and railway I cross the busy A6 onto leafy lanes heading to Beetham, but a navigational error brings me back out onto the A6 where fortunately a pavement sees me safely into the village.

By chance, I get into conversation with a local couple. She had been born in Hutton Roof and went to school alongside St. John’s church. They were bemoaning the fact that this whole area, once a backwater, is becoming a tourist hotspot. I felt the lanes I cycled today were a reminder of those ‘Backwater’ days. Highly recommended.

*****

MILES AND MILES.

It’s that time of year again when one reflects upon journeys undertaken.

Sometime and somewhere earlier I signed up * to walk 1000 miles in the year, well I didn’t actually sign up but having seen the challenge I decided to keep a personal  tally of my mileages. Most years I do far in access of a thousand, but we were living in strange times and travel was limited. Doing less than three miles each day seemed easy enough. I was just going to count actual walks, not going to the shops etc.

*  I think it was one of my fellow bloggers that mentioned it first. Just found the website concerned   http://www.walk1000miles.co.uk

I was well on target by the middle of August, 900+ miles, despite the lockdowns and the ban on travels abroad. But then disaster struck, that’s a little strong, when whilst bouldering I landed badly on my right heel. I rested what I thought was just a bad bruise, but it persisted to the extent I couldn’t walk comfortably at all. The pain and disability started to resemble Plantar Fasciitis (self diagnosis). My walking was curtailed and I started on rest, ice and stretching exercises. Despite visits to a physiotherapist and a podiatrist, I’m still not back to fitness.

As you have noticed from my posts, to keep some sort of exercise going, I dragged my bike out of the garage, gave it a quick oil and started cycling around the area, keeping off busy roads as much as possible. A daily walk comes natural to me, but getting the bike out, gearing up and perhaps driving to a suitable venue is not as spontaneous and thus often missed.

So, how is my walking mileage tally working out if I want to equate to my cycling exploits. Let’s say I walk at 2.5 miles per hour (4.02 km/h) and cycle at 10 miles per hour (16.09 km/h),  a leisurely pace.  Does that make a 30-mile bike ride the equivalent of a 7.5-mile walk.  If you agree with that premise, all I have to do is divide the cycling miles by 4 to obtain the equivalent walked miles. Job done.

But it doesn’t feel like that. When I’ve finished cycling 30 miles in just over 3 hours, I think I’m more tired than when having walked 7.5 miles over similar terrain. I know I’m trying to compare oranges with apples, and I’m not very efficient using a mountain bike on roads. I could get scientific and talk about calories burnt – 200 cals walking and 60 cals cycling a mile. But I don’t worry about calories when I’m enjoying exercise outdoors. What about steps, which I’ve never counted, –  10,000 steps for 5 miles walking whilst roughly 16 miles equivalent in cycling. Both these examples give an approximate  ratio of 3 to 1 instead of my original 4 to 1. Thus, 30 miles cycling would be 10 miles walking.

I’m as confused as you by now. Sticking a pin in it, I think I’ll use the more conservative 4:1 and be done with it. So since I started cycling in September, I’ve “walked” at least an extra 140 miles, so my modest target of 1000 has been reached.

‘So what’  you may say.

.

A RURAL RIDE TO FIND A WITCH.

It was cold on the hands today.

Somewhere I have a book detailing interesting graves in Lancashire, Who Lies Beneath?  I can’t find it at the moment. But I remember visiting Woodplumpton a couple of years ago when I was taking my late friend with advanced Alzheimer Disease for a ride out and a lunch in the splendid Wheatsheaf Inn. After lunch of fish and chips, her favourite, we crossed the road to have a look at St. Anne’s Church. I always wanted to return to search for a curiosity in the graveyard. On a ride some weeks ago, the road to Woodplumpton was closed due to the substantial work on Preston’s Western Relief road. I intended to make amends today and cycle in from a different direction.

I’d come through Inglewhite, Bilsborrow and Cuddy Hill.  After the motorway and A6 it is all fairly flat with a maze of lanes, many seemingly going nowhere. A sort of no man’s land between the motorway and the Fylde. I crossed the Lancaster Canal a couple of times and passed the Plough At Eaves, a pub we used to visit when working in Preston, but that was years ago. The pub is one of the oldest in Lancashire, dating back to 1625. In former times it was variously known as the Plough at Cuddy Hill, the Cuddy Pub and more unusually the Cheadle Plough Inn. It has recently been refurbished, so I wonder what they have done to the cosy inside.

Once in the straggling village of Woodplumpton, I ignored The Wheatsheaf and headed straight to the Medieval church on the other side of the road. Outside the church’s Lychgate were the ancient stocks and mounting block. I found the squat sandstone church open, it was a Sunday, and was impressed with the stained-glass. Those well known Lancaster architects Austin and Paley were responsible for renovations at the beginning of the C20th.

But my main search was outside in the churchyard for the burial place of an alleged witch, a local 17th-century woman named Meg Shelton, also known as the Singleton Witch or the Fylde Hag.

According to legend, she was feared by the local community and tales grew up of her changing shape and form to steal food and create mischief. She died in 1705, crushed between a barrel and a wall. Apparently it was thought that she miraculously escaped from two graves and was then buried head first in a narrow slot, a boulder placed on top of her to prevent further escape. The disturbance of the first two graves could have been caused by vandalism towards her.

I soon found the boulder in the rows of conventional headstones. It was about a metre across and looked a hefty barrier even for a witch. A little brass plaque identified it and there were remains of some flowers placed alongside. I found it strange that she had been buried in consecrated ground, though there was a rumour that she was a mistress to the local lord, who might have arranged her burial.

She died a century after the infamous Pendle Witches, but her kind were still feared by the community. Did she practice the dark arts, using herbal remedies and so-called spells?  Thus earning herself a reputation and being blamed for calamities in the general run of life by the more suspicious locals. Had she been mentally ill, frightening others and becoming marginalised? Or was she just the area’s criminal?  It would be hoped that people’s illnesses or differences would not be victimised in the same manner four centuries later. Perhaps that bunch of flowers shows some understanding.

Whatever the truth in Woodplumpton, there was certainly a bewitching sunset back in Longridge.

A QUICK TRIP AROUND THE GUILD WHEEL.

Storm Arwen had passed through, but there was frost on the ground as I set off for a ride around Preston’s Guild Wheel this sunny morning. I wasn’t expecting to stop very often, but I did capture a few pictures.

In Red Scar Woods above Brockholes Nature Reserve, there was still plenty of Autumn colour.

The River Ribble was lower than I had seen it recently, with plenty of muddy banks on show.

The bridge taking the new Western Distributor road over the Ribble Link Canal is progressing fast.

At last, the Whistlestop Café, next to the canal on the University’s sports grounds, was open again, the first time for months when I’ve been passing. So I had to give them some custom and enjoy a quick morning coffee. That was about it really, I was home for an early lunch just as it started snowing.

FLANKING THE FELLS.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by accessible fells giving good local walking, but at the moment I’m restricted to cycling, so I’m making the best of any opportunity for exercise whilst the sun shines. Today’s ride took me around the Bleasdale lanes without much climbing up the fells.  However, I was surprised that when I plotted the route later, I’d climbed a thousand feet. It didn’t feel like that, there must have been lots of gradual ascents in low gear. Throughout the day I was treated to fine views of the Bleasdale Fells, Beacon Fell and on the run into home Longridge Fell.

Within four miles I was cycling through Inglewhite with its C17th market cross and then down across the River Brock into Claughton, a scattered parish by the motorway. Somewhere in the middle of it is Claughton Hall, but I only saw the western gate lodge. Up the lane was a medieval cross, at least its gritstone base.

On the map there was a lane taking me in the right direction, but it turned out to be trickier than I thought, and I ended up walking the last uphill half, all very pleasant though.

I was soon on familiar roads skirting the Bleasdale Estate, with the fells all around me.

The ‘back’ of Beacon Fell.


Fairsnape and Parlick.

I stopped for a break and was joined by a party of horse riders from a nearby trecking centre.  In the field to my left were dozens of dogs running about, some sort of canine day nursery. The staff didn’t seem very friendly when I stopped to look, perhaps they are wary of dog thefts at present.

Next it was mainly downhill on convoluted lanes with Longridge Fell ahead. I live at the base of the fell, so no further climbing was needed.

The sun was a cold November grey by the time I pulled into home. Another simple 20 miles through Lancashire’s countryside.

*****

CREEPING INTO CUMBRIA.

Is Arnside in Lancashire or Cumbria?

Do you remember those heady days of ‘lockdown’ when the rules of travel had us all baffled? This little peninsula on the edge of the Lake District always has me wondering which county I’m in  – I could at one stage travel to Silverdale but not to Arnside 3 miles away, Yealand Conyers but not Beetham up the road. Sir Hugh, my friend living in Arnside, had agonising decisions to make. Could he be fined for walking 3 miles south? Well, those days are over for now, so I’m happy to park up above Arnside for a cycle ride around the peninsula, one quarter of which is in Cumbria.

Of course until 1974 Arnside was in Westmorland, with parts of Lancashire across the water in the Lake District, but that’s another story…

Enough of the waffle, let’s get on the bike and go. Well, I don’t go far before stopping to explore a bit of Arnside. It has recently been featured on TV in a programme about coastal villages. The programme is worth a watch on iPlayer for the history it portrays and some fine drone footage. I pause on the front to gaze across the sands and imagine the dangerous tidal bore coming in.

As I write this, I hear of the death of Cedric Robinson, the Queen’s Guide to crossing treacherous Morecambe Bay for 56 years at a salary of £15 per year. I always regret that I haven’t done the crossing, I was booked in on a charity walk three years ago, but flooding made the channels dangerous, and my event was cancelled.

I come across some curiosities –

There is a water fountain dedicated to a young boy who died, aged 4, in 1903.

There is a clock tower dedicated to a Rev. Bamford and family, who lived and worked locally at Oakfield School, 1895-1935.