Ignoring the title of my last post I’m up here again, doing it the easy way from Cardwell House , on Jeffrey Hill. And definitely staying out of the trees this time.
All part of my irregular three-mile litter picking circuit. I have been a bit lax recently and not kept up to my original monthly round. But no matter, the plethora of the Covid lock-down years has passed. There is room to park, though there are few takers this misty damp afternoon. There are always good pickings in the first hundred yards or so. I ignore the underpants in the car park and concentrate on the dog poo bags, a record today of 13, 10 of them full. The only person I meet is a dog walker, hopefully a responsible one as I bite my tongue and don’t grumble about the mess. By the way green doggy bags are no more environmentally friendlier than black ones – take them home, please. Rant over.
I keep to my plan – up to the summit, good pickings here as usual, cross over and come back down alongside the wall to the road. Cola cans outnumber Lucozade, for a change. The odd glove or hat, a helium balloon, Cadbury’s chocolate the favourite. One glass beer bottle.
I hope that if the fell looks clean people will be less inclined to drop their rubbish. Is there any evidence for this? This is my bit of fell after all, not that I want you to think I’m over obsessive about its cleanliness. (can you be over obsessive?) Once on the short stretch of road there is more to contend with. Some I will leave for the ‘council’ to deal with. Was it part of an organised litter pickup to be collected later or more likely a deliberate drive out and dump mentality? I’d better just stick to the fell.
By the time I was back at the car my bag was overflowing and feeling decidedly heavy. Job done.
“What do you think of it so far?” was one of Eric Morecambe’s catchphrases – and the reply from somewhere offstage – RUBBISH.
Up on Longridge Fell we were doing OK until the guide, walk no 23 of Mark Sutcliffe’s book, said to take a jink right in the trees. We already had jinked right awhile back as the fallen trees from last year’s storm Eunice?, blocked our tracks. But others had come this way recently, in fact quite a path had developed. We bushwhacked on. For once, I wasn’t the leader, Phreerunner was running but not as phree as he thought.
When Martin (aka Phreerunner) had included in his Friday walks Longridge Fell I couldn’t refuse to accompany him. I secretly knew the problems ahead but didn’t want to spoil the fun, it’s not Cicerones fault. I thought it a good idea to bring JD into the mix for some local support.
We had left Hurst Green alongside the delightful Dean Brook with its bobbin making history. The stream bed was carved by the water into Daliesque shapes. Resisting the urge to take another photo of Greengore we move on and across fields I don’t usually travel. Lanes and then a boggy path brought us out onto the top ridge where a simple stroll led to the summit trig point, 350 m. The light on the Bowland Hills was flitting from one area to another, but the three peaks never put in a show. Time for coffee and snacks.
Shireburn Alms Houses.
The onward path disappears into a dark plantation, and already we start meeting obstructions. When I was up here early last year I found it impossible to make safe progress. It was slightly better today as Martin forged forward bent double to avoid the branches. We made it through to more open ground and then found with the use of our phones a path going in the right direction. It is fairly chaotic up here at present, a shame that the forestry workers can’t spare a day with a couple of chain saws to clear a way.
As we left Hurst Green earlier this morning we passed the Shireburn Alms Houses and I related as to how they were originally built higher up on the fell in the earlyC18th and subsequently moved stone by stone down into the village around 1946. Well now we were above their original site on the fell next to the ‘blue lagoon’ reservoir. It wasn’t blue today in the rather dull conditions. The foundations can still be seen if one looks around, we didn’t.
Across the road, over a wall and down some fields, the directions lacked clarity here. We ended up in someone’s garden with a couple of wild eyed dogs snapping at our heels. We escaped and found our way down a ravine, the correct stile now visible behind us. It always amazes me, and I’ve said it too many times, that landowners don’t put signage up through their property and maintain the stiles – it’s not asking too much. If you buy a country property you will be well aware of any rights of way coming through it. Time to start issuing fines, I know that will never happen.
We skirted around Stoneyhurst School, admiring the architecture and the long stately drive. I think this was all new for Martin, and I shall be interested in his write-up for the walk on his blog. Soup and rolls back at Chez BC completed an excellent ‘Friday Walk’ May meet up again when he moves his troops to Silverdale in a couple of weeks time, or should I make the effort and travel down to Cheshire for somewhere new?
I didn’t take many photos, it was all too familiar, or so I thought, and we were busy chatting. There is a better report here.
I came across this temporary CCTV installation on my walk across the fields this morning. Notice how blue the sky is.
Placed in a field next to tracks leading to isolated farms and a back way into Ferraris Country Hotel. Four solar-powered cameras pointing around the compass. Have there been recent burglaries or fly tipping? I am sure it’s not to watch the animals or ramblers. Further enquiries are needed.
I was out for a short brisk walk in the countryside behind my house, there had been overnight light snow which always gives a different atmosphere to the familiar, making the fells look higher and more majestic. There was a satisfying crunch underfoot, mine were the only footprints. Though there were prints of rabbits, hare, deer, and the odd bird who had passed by earlier. The snow was rapidly melting in the fields but compacting to an icy danger on the lanes.
The Bowland Fells.
Soon I was heading up an icy Mile Lane back into the village for a bit of shopping.
The remaining snow had a rosy glow in tonight’s Turneresque sunset.
Woke up, fell out of bed Dragged a comb across my head Found my way downstairs and drank a cup And looking up, I noticed I was late Found my coat and grabbed my hat Made the bus in seconds flat.
Lennon and McCartney. 1967.
Fast-forward 56 years and I almost missed the bus today and the chance of a walk above Chipping. I was lounging in bed with my second coffee of the day, struggling with The Times Crossword. A little hungover from our family’s delayed Xmas/New Year celebrations taken yesterday. My prize present was a bottle of malt.
The forecast was for showers off and on all day. Why do we listen to these updated seaweed predictions? I see out of the corner of my bloodshot eye, from the injury not the whisky, blue skies over all my new neighbours’ new houses. Looking closer all seems good out there.
Made the bus in seconds flat. The stop is handily placed on the corner of my road, and I was soon in Chipping. All part of my intent to make more use of public transport this year.
The walk I quickly improvised is on good surfaces but virtually traffic free and takes you in a circle to the base of the Bowland Hills and back. I’ve described it most recently here and there in more detail.
The sky was blue, there was no wind and the views seemed clearer than usual. Into the grounds of Legram Hall I was on a private road threading its way past farms and sheep country to the open fells, although I wouldn’t be tackling them today. Too early for the snowdrop display I strolled onwards with frequent looks back across the ancient deer park to the dark side of Longridge Fell and the sunnier Pendle. I’d put some loose change into my pocket so that I could purchase free-range eggs from the honesty box of Saddle End Farm – alas there were none left. We are in the middle of Avian Flu and there seems to be a shortage of eggs everywhere. Are the hens on strike with the rest of the country?
Skipping on, down the lane past mills and old foundries. This was an industrial landscape not so long ago. Now there is a Lancashire cheese factory and the remainder of Kirk Mill.
My ‘find of the day’ was some steps in front of the Chair Work’s cottages. I’ve never noticed them before, but they lead down directly into Chipping Brook, which had powered the mills. For what purpose? Washing place for the cottagers, connected with the cotton era for cleansing the fabrics – I’ve no idea, please help.
I had time for a coffee in the wonderful Cobbled Corner Cafe before catching the 2.30 bus home.
Is it the 5th or 6th of January, Epiphany Eve or Epiphany Day? The celebration of baby Jesus as God incarnate with his visit from the Magi Kings and his revelation to the world. I’m stopping there before I get bogged down in a subject I know little of and which may be solely symbolic after all.
We were always taught as children that it was unlucky to take down the Christmas decorations, mostly Pagan in origin, before the 12th night and even worse to leave them after that. It depends on where you start counting the twelve days from. I’m playing it safe and going for today the 5th of January.
Anyhow, I hope you have all enjoyed the festivities and are looking forward to a bright New Year. Things haven’t gone to plan in my family, but more of that later.
I’m off up the fell to retrieve my Angel added to the Xmas decorated tree up there, in line with the twelfth night. It’s not the best of days. mirky and damp. Gone are the sparkling conditions of that arctic period before Xmas – welcome back to the glorious mud. Somebody else , presumably the tree’s original decorator, keeping to tradition, has cleared the baubles and tinsel I’m pleased to see. The Angel has flown.
I might as well go up to the trig point whilst I am here, another kind of celebration, this time the lure of hill tops. Not being overly obsessive about every hillock and rocky lump in our land I will happily bypass a top if the going is easier around it. But my nearest and dearest trig point is only a few minutes walk away.
An otherwise phantom fell pony is present in the flesh today, I don’t know where they go to at other times. Sometimes there are four or five milling around the summit and then none seen for days. This beast is kicking up quite a fuss, maybe because he has strayed to the wrong side of the wall. The last stile before the summit has taken a severe mauling in recent days. The culprit is unapologetic. This sets me thinking about The Hungry Horse chain of cheap family eateries, you know the thing “Kids eat for a pound” whilst the parents get p*****. Some of their meat is tougher than the woodwork of the stile. I hope I’m not opening myself to libel here – it’s a joke honest.
At the summit I meet a friendly couple, with dogs at heel of course. We pass the time of day with shared experiences of walking our treasured local landscape. At some stage in the conversation I have to apologise for the state of my face. This is the first time I’ve been out in nearly a week since I knocked myself unconscious in a fall outside my back door. I have no recollection of what happened, maybe I was going out to feed the birds or visit the dustbin. I woke up on the concrete, I’d missed the stars if there were any. Did I slip or did I have a ‘dizzy spell’? I’ve no idea, there was no alcohol involved as it was well before teatime. Dragging myself indoors I tentatively assessed the damage – a very sore right side of my skull and face, I’d obviously hit the concrete hard. It was only when I tried to pour a coffee that I realised I had lost my binocular vision. I had a shock looking in the mirror at the state of my right eye, Mike Tyson came to mind. No casualty visit for me thank you, I will do my own head injury monitoring. Not exactly the best policy but I suspect that they might have kept me in the hospital if they had been able to find me a bed. Third World health care demands some self-reliance. By today there are only purple patches on my cheek and a blood shot eye, but enough to frighten the children.
This all comes in the midst of that burst pipe incident I may have mentioned in my last post, the cancellation of our family Christmas due to members’ covid infections, a disruption to my gas supply due to a failure of the ‘smart’ meter and an obvious cancellation of any New Year’s get together. I couldn’t see out of my eye for three days. All is well now apart from the head aches and an inability to chew due to the jaw pain.
The gas problem took some sorting. We all, of a certain age, grumble about modern technology and the convoluted call centres. I spent five hours phoning British Gas on Monday to try and report the problem, I was not in the best of spirits due to the head injury. ‘The current queuing time is 75 minutes‘ was the initial response. Then that person put me through to another department – ‘The current queuing time is 45 minutes, we suggest you use our internet chat room‘ And so on, all accompanied by some weird electronic music. If they played Bob Dylan I would be happy to hang on along with my valued custom, but that would be being too selective. Thinking about it nowadays with all the clever Apps, Logarithms and stored personal data they should be able to come up with Duquesne Whistle just to keep me sweet. After several trips around India I arrived back where I started just as they were closing for the day. My head ached a lot more than it had done a few hours earlier.
The next morning, after a cold miserable night, I dreaded staring again. But maybe the latest phone number was more direct and within 10 minutes I was through to a girl from Essex, suffering from a bad cold, who cottoned on to my problem straight away, OK I did mention I was a vulnerable old man alone in a cold house with no hot water or heating. An emergency appointment with a gas engineer was arranged for that morning, and she phoned back later to see if all had gone well. Perfect customer care. No more jokes about Essex girls please. Why couldn’t it have been that simple the day before, let’s get used to the Third World.
I’ve now a new meter, hot water and heating – all is cosy and rosy for the New Year. until maybe something else creeps up on me unexpectedly.
I ended up doing my usual three-mile figure of eight loop.
But best of all I think the fresh air has cleared my head.
The sun didn’t play ball with me and wouldn’t set at the end of my forest tunnel. Nonetheless, I have been rewarded in this quest with a few brief but exhilarating walks up Longridge Fell which I might have otherwise missed in the general lethargy that comes to me in these short days.
I’ve just heard the sad news that the Terry Hall has died. For those not in the know, he was a founder member, lead singer, of the Specials, that Coventry group known for its early success with social conscience, equality and anti-racial credentials as well as their brilliant energetic two-tone music.
Shy of this commercial success, he moved on to the more minimalistic but progressive yet short-lived Fun Boy Three and other related outfits. (For an idea of what they were doing look up – Fun Boy Three – live at Regal Theatre in Hitchin 1983 – YouTube, ‘Going Home’ should have a resonance to our present all deporting Home Minister )
Coming back to touring with the reformed Specials after problems with his mental health, he achieved cult status, possibly unwanted. He had, I believe, remained true to his convictions. A brilliant talent – A sad day.
I woke today to find water coming out from under my garage door. We have had a week of freezing temperatures and I feared for the water pipes to the sink and washing machine in there. I had added some extra insulation, but it was too little too late. The garage was awash and a fountain of water was escaping from a pipe in the cupboard. I failed to turn the stiff valve, it was cramped in there and I endured a soaking.
Back into the house to turn off the main valve to stem the flow but leaving me without water or heating. Back into the garage cupboard with a head torch I could see a split in the pipe. What chance of getting a plumber on a Sunday when they will all be busy with burst pipes. I didn’t even try. Self-help first aid was needed. A rubber patch held on with Gaffer Tape and Jubilee clips might be the answer for a temporary repair. But access was difficult with all the other pipes under there. Most of these were dismantled to give me a better working space. Now I was able to squirt some WD40 onto that stuck valve.
A coffee and a warm-up back in the house, and I was ready to try again. Now using an adjustable gripper I could cautiously try and tighten that valve. Much to my relief it moved a little. Back inside to turn the main valve back on only to see water still escaping. Another turn, wary of breaking the thing all together, and it looked as though the flow was stopped. The emergency is over, I had water and heat in the house, and I can sort a plumber out tomorrow.
All this is a prelude to why an hour later I was parked on the fell road hoping to de-stress and blow the cobwebs away with a brisk walk. The above view from my car windscreen says it all. Freezing rain and no visibility. I didn’t even get out of the car.
In the middle of this sudden cold snap I hesitate on driving the lanes up onto the Fell, they can be icily treacherous. I can hardly get out of my road which being closed for the gas pipeline has not been gritted – it’s like the proverbial ice rink. But the weather is so good I can’t contain myself any longer. I needn’t have worried the road I take is clear of ice. Parked up I kick myself for not venturing forth the last couple of days. Well I don’t actually kick myself as I’ve strapped on my trusty Grivel Spider 10 point micro spikes. I have used these on Alpine treks (not climbs) and they give me confidence on icy surfaces which can crop up anywhere at altitude or in winter. Today is not the day for a slip or fall. the nurses are on strike for the first time, so casualty will be probably more chaotic than of recent months – if that is possible. I don’t intend to rant about the state of our health service, or any other service for that matter. It’s the season of good will, isn’t it?
There is a spring in my step as I follow the wall up the Fell. A satisfying crunch into the icy surface. Although the temperature is still below zero I’m well wrapped up and able to enjoy the bright sunshine. The familiar Fell Xmas tree winks at me from a distance. On closer acquaintance I see that the angel on top has flown, or some spoil sport has taken it. The season of good will.
At the trig point on Spire Hill, to give it its proper title, I’m joined by an energetic dog walker and then a couple recently moved to the area. We share our enthusiasm for all things Bowland. Across the way the snow is disappearing on the south facing slopes of the Fairsnape/Totridge group. I make a mental note to get up there soon.
Leaving my new-found friends to take a different way off the fell through the trees. I’m on a mission here. There is a straight avenue of trees deep in the forest, probably discovered by mountain bikers, which leads through a tunnel towards the light. At the end of that light I have been trying to capture a spectacular sun setting on the horizon in the gap. It didn’t pan out today at 3.20, still too far in the northern arc. Another couple of days or so and I may be in luck. We are heading to the winter solstice, December 21st this year. Wouldn’t it be great if my line of sight in those trees fell on that day. I’ll be back to try again.
I crunched my way back down the increasingly icy path with the setting sun in my eyes, past those familiar pines.
Over to the east Pendle faded into the distance.
Not bad for a short wintry walk. We need more of these.
I’ve struggled to access my WP account in recent days, so I hope this hits the airwaves. Sorry if I have not commented on your latest posts.
Our lane is being dug up for a new gas main. They started last Saturday and will be around for 7 – 10 weeks. By the Sunday my gas gave out, there was no note pushed through the door in way of explanation and there were no workmen in the road. With dread, I phoned the help line of Cadent. Remarkably I was speaking to a helpful human within minutes. He saw no reason for my gas to be disconnected. After the usual details were verified he sent me off to the meter cupboard, I grabbed a torch on the way.
“Press button A – what does it say?” “Account”
“Press button B – what does it say?” “No”
“Press both buttons – what does it say?” “OK”
After a few more sequences like this, I don’t have a button C, he instructed to hold button A for 6 seconds.
“What does it say?” “On”
“Go and try your gas hobs” And yes there was a flow of gas, magic. He thought my smart meter had developed a fault possibly with a short interruption to the gas flow on the Saturday, not so smart after all. As customer care services go that was one of the better ones, thank you Cadent.
The week passed as they came and went gradually digging most of the road up. It’s great because there is no longer any through traffic, we have unfortunately become a bit of a rat run in recent years – hasn’t everywhere?. All peace and quiet now except when they star drilling at 7.30 am.
A note was pushed through my door saying they would need access to the property this Saturday whilst they connected me to the new main. That was unfortunate as today was the sunniest day of the week, the high pressure mist having eventually lifted. My gas disappeared in the morning as a gang of workmen descended on the hole outside my house.
I lit my wood burner for the first time this winter, more for Seth my cat than myself, and settled in with a new book. Eventually a couple of likely lads in muddy boots knocked to check my meter. I didn’t like the look of the monkey wrench with which they attacked my fragile looking connecting pipe. Then there was some muttered discussion about the age and state of the stop lever. Every step of their work was duly photographed with a phone, uploaded immediately to head office. They then disappeared for half an hour or so to get some other equipment or inspiration. I was beginning to fear the worst. I pottered in the garden in the beautiful weather. Back they came and had another look without doing anything obvious, leaving me to await an ‘engineer’ in a couple of hours or so to reconnect me and check my appliances. As the afternoon dragged on I was itching to put my boots on and get up the fell to enjoy the brightest of days.
The ‘engineer’ arrived and poked about in the meter box. Mutterings about the wrong readings and he was on the phone to someone. ” I haven’t a F*****G idea what I’m doing” didn’t impress me. I kept looking at the disappearing sunlight, but he stuck to his slow laborious routine. All systems go eventually, and I thanked him for his work, he didn’t seem particularly enthused by it. Everything about my connection to the new gas main had worked well, and I complement Cadent for the operation, although I doubted its outcome at times. There will be a lot more houses to connect and more holes to dig and fill before the lane is open again, but now I’m OK Jack I’ll just relax and enjoy the traffic free few weeks.
I was up the road to Jeffrey Hill in no time for a short walk to the trig point and back. The low winter sunlight was enchanting. At the gate I came across a well-dressed man with a pod stick, tripod and microphone on his lapel. It transpires he has been producing a Vlog on the nearby Roman Road, his site is Roman Gazette if I remember correctly which I will check out later. We chat all things Roman as the shadows are lengthening. It’s now 3.30 as I set off again, everyone else is descending. Chipping Vale takes on some beautiful colours as the sun prepares to set. Up at the wall another decorated Xmas tree has appeared, smaller than the one higher up but with the tinsel glittering in the low sun. It’s a quick turnaround at the trig point, no ponies today. I come back down virtually blinded by the disappearing sun creating an almost Turner like landscape. I add a couple of baubles to the higher tree in passing.
I have just enough time to take a couple of shots of the windblown tree, one of my favourites up here. That reminds me that I should venture along the Hodder and check out that other old favourite – ‘The Winkley Oak’ in case it suffered any damage in last winter’s storms. Quite a few ancient oaks blew down in the Beast from the East.
By the time I hit the road all is dark, and the cars have their headlamps on. Strangely when I arrive in the car park there are still half a dozen cars, are people camping on the fell or just misjudged how quickly it becomes almost pitch dark?
An hour walk snatched from the end of a glorious day.
I’m happy to switch on my gas central heating and find everything in good order, it could have gone horribly wrong as in this little ditty from the past. How many of you member it?
One never knows when there could be a cloud inversion up on the fell. Last year I experienced a couple of almost perfect days up there.
The gloom down here is all-pervading. I struggle to do the daily Wordle, drinking coffee in bed. The morning is slipping away. My lane is closed to traffic at the moment for a new gas pipeline. So all peace and quiet until the gas people start drilling away outside my house. One can’t switch off easily to pneumatic drilling, so I have to get up, the rest of the week I hadn’t bothered. High pressures at this time of year gives dry and windless days but once the cloud is down it stays that way forever.
I should have taken my bike to Halton and cycled the usual way through Morecambe along the bay. But somehow I hadn’t the motivation. Taking the easy way out I decided to head up the fell. The short drive up there in mist didn’t bode well for views. I must avoid as much as possible long drives for walks next year, for the planet and my purse. It’s always next year. Parked up I was surprised by the number of cars already there.
My short walk to the summit and back was punctuated by several conversations with fellow walkers.
There were the dog walkers, lots of them, with energetic spaniels. Hardly stopping for a sniff at me, the dogs I mean, but all enthusiastic to be out whatever the weather. All very friendly. The weather was actually better than expected, no wind and almost a decent cloud inversion over Chipping Vale. Not good enough for photos.
A couple were steaming up behind me, they recognised me, I struggled to place them initially. Friends from my lad’s school days, played in my garden and remembered me climbing up my house walls. It was great to catch up and how lovely to see how mature and pleasant people are, we are a friendly lot in Longridge, but all is changing. That gas pipe is for the hundreds of houses being built in our once tight-knit community.
The next encounter was with the fell ponies which sometimes appear. Sturdy equines milling around the trig point.
The fairy or is it an angel has appeared on the fell Christmas tree, it needs a few more baubles.
I stop once again for a conversation with an ascending hiker “I’m only 85 he declares” The fell is for everybody as he disappears into the mist. Let’s hope I’m still coming up here in the next decade and the younger walkers will stop and encourage me onwards.
It’s time I did my irregular litter pick up here, there were lots of doggy poo bags and discarded tissues to remove. Maybe tomorrow if this depressing cloud persists. it must be better than the world football on TV.
A rather sad reminder of how we all did lock down. Or is it an omen for our fractured society?
It is still foggy down in Longridge, and they are still digging up the road. I drag my rusty exercise bike from the garage to the kitchen though I doubt it will be my salvation.
With the trees almost bare of leaves we saw extra detail today on our stroll out of Hurst Green. Mike had phoned me the night before thinking it could be a dry day, at least in the morning. My knee was painful from Saturday’s walk around the Silverdale area, but I didn’t like to put him off – I have done so several times recently. I picked him up as his car was looking worse for wear after a close encounter with an HGV. He is slowly working his way through the maze of insurance reports.
Parking up opposite the Bayley Arms which is sadly once more deserted and neglected. It is a difficult time for the hospitality trade, but it would appear that it was being poorly managed according to the ubiquitous Tripadvisor. Hurst Green is in the civil parish of Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley. I’m mentioning this because Mike spotted the pub’s alternative name spelling at odds with the ‘official’. The parish is stuffed with listed buildings many associated with Stonyhurst College and estate. The diverse architecture of the area does make it an ideal rambling venue for anyone with a historical interest. I restrain myself from photographing most of the gems passed today, well only a couple. The rest are hidden in my previous posts.
We suspect the Tolkien Trail will be very muddy, and it is becoming overused. So we head in the other direction dropping down to Dean Brook with its remnants of the water powered industries of previous centuries. Bobbin and spindle workings were common hereabouts supplying the flourishing Lancashire cotton mills. Mill races, previous ponds and evidence of damming seem more obvious today in the sunshine. The water is very lively after heavy rain. I used to bring my children and subsequently grandchildren along here, it was a favourite spot for ‘pooh sticks’ launched from the bridge and then followed downstream as far as possible. Today you would not have able to keep pace.
I divert from the path to show Mike the abandoned Sand Quarry which provided the building blocks for much of Hurst Green. I had forgotten how extensive it had been, again everything looked clearer with the bare trees. Years ago Simon and I climbed an exciting route up the middle of the largest rock face using many of the features left by the quarrymen – shot holes and incut slots. It all looked overgrown today – nature slowly taking over.
Onwards we went up the old cart track from the bridge. How many times have I photographed Greengore, an old hunting lodge, but today I found a different angle which highlighted its impressive southern frontage.
Once on the top road we just ambled along catching up on the news, there were few cars to disturb us. Down the lane back to Stonyhurst we passed the well known Pinfold Cross commemorating a worker’s untimely death. Cometh the hour.
And on past what had been the stables for the horse-drawn sledges pulling stone down from Kemple End Quarry, better quality than Sand Rock, to build the college and its houses. You can still follow the line of the sunken track up the fellside. The tumble down barn has been recently restored and upgraded to an upmarket holiday cottage.
We debated which route to take back to the village – go right and stay on the road all the way or continue down and follow a way through Stonyhurst College. We went for the more interesting latter knowing that it would entail a muddy section towards the end.
The college forefront was busy with coaches ferrying pupils around. The main building is under wraps for some restoration but the elaborate finials and roofline of St. Peter’s Church was just waiting to be photographed against the autumn sky. Here is my modest result – only to be approached by ‘security’ to say no photography. Why? Children’s dormitories. What in the church? I hope I don’t offend anybody with my picture.
The muddy stretch has been improved by a short section of tarmacked track on the hill heading into Hurst Green. We entered in by the old smithy and the Almshouses and it started raining as we drove home over the fell Cometh the hour.
I have not pulled my boots on for a month or so. Today was too windy for cycling, so a short local walk was in order. Do you remember those days of lockdown when only short excursions were allowed – I stuck to the rules. I walked through the fields to Gill Bridge, on through Ferraris country hotel (doing takeaways only) and back along the almost empty road. I repeated the same walk or variations many times, using hand sanitiser after every gate latch or stile. Others had the same idea and the footpaths became well trodden and easy to follow.
We are two years on from there, most of us have had Covid and thankfully survived and life is moving on. We are however faced with another batch of problems, but let’s not dwell on those today. It’s time for some fresh air and exercise.
I repeat that same four mile route from my house. It does not look as though many others are walking the paths. They are overgrown and unloved. No need for hand sanitiser any more, did it ever do any good? The views have not changed, and I’m surrounded by the Bowland Fells and Longridge Fell. The clouds blow through in the blustery winds with odd bursts of sunshine.
I find chestnuts, ‘conkers’, where I hadn’t realised there were chestnut trees. A handful go into my pocket for planting later and while I’m at it collect some oak nuts, acorns. Beech nuts are in profusion along the roadside. Unidentified fungi are seen in the fields. Hawthorn berries add a touch of rouge to the hedgerows.
Into the outdoors.
Autumn’s fruitfulness is our bonus for this splendid short rural walk on my doorstep. My spirits are lifted, and our other problems put in their place.
I mustn’t leave it so long before I next tread these paths, they don’t deserve to be forgotten.
It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.
I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?
An uncertain start.
Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.
Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.
I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.
The Written Stone.
This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.
Up to Jeffrey Hill.
The Ribble Valley and Pendle.
No time for stragglers.
I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.
That view from Jeffrey Hill.
Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.
Remains of the sculpture installation.
Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.
Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.
The listed C18th Thornley Hall.
A promising start to the bridleway…
…soon becomes this…
…and then unexpectedly this.
Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.
Wheatley Farm, 1774.
One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.
Parlick and Fairsnape.
There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.
There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.
Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.
Longridge Fell looking across the green Chipping Vale towards the Trough of Bowland.
At the risk of raising the blood pressure of my, environmentally sensitive, readers – read on.
Following on from my brush with Covid I have not kept up with the walks featured in the Lancashire Cicerone Guide book. I hope to resume them shortly. Today I needed a gentle leg stretcher – Longridge Fell always has something to offer. I’ve not done a ‘litter pick’ up there for several weeks so that became the object of the morning’s stroll.
Parking up I was immediately confronted with discarded pizza boxes and drink bottles , also strangely two plastic motor oil containers. There is a litter bin 10 metres away, though admittedly it is usually full to overflowing. Not a good start to the day.
I set off on my walk intending to clear this mess up when I return, it won’t all go in my bag. Longridge Fell was bone dry making for easy walking though the threats of moorland fires must be high. I noticed the bilberries were very small perhaps a reflection of our lack of rainfall this June and July. The other thing that struck me was that the heather was already blooming – I seem to have missed some seasons this year.
A sad finding on the ridge was a recently dead Kestrel. I could see no signs of it being shot, but I did wonder afterwards about possible poisoning. Should I have picked it up and sent to the RSPB or police for toxicology tests?
Up to the trig point and back in a circle I half filled my bag with the usual doggy poo bags, drinks cartons and food wrappers. The short stretch on the road at the end provided an equal amount of rubbish dumped out of passing cars. All I had to do was pick up the rest of that rubbish in the car park.
This is a local beauty spot with a fine view of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills so there are always cars parked here. In lock-down it was a free for all with all the verges taken over, things are back to normal now. Today I noticed two artists busy painting the scene. I wandered over to have a chat and admire their work. One was using watercolours and the other acrylic, they both complained about the high temperature affecting their paints. What a talent to be able to capture that view with a few brushstrokes. I wish I had asked them to email me a copy of their finished paintings. That reminds me, I have on my study wall a watercolour of the very same scene done for me by a Mr. A Long, an artist who lived in Longridge 40 odd years ago.
Mr Long’s painting.
What a contrast from two gents fully appreciating their environment to the louts who drive up here with their takeaways and don’t take them away.
When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called myself ‘bowlandclimber’. My first post incidentally was information on the climbing at Kemple End Quarry on Longridge Fell. I was out climbing most days, either in the mountains of Wales or the Lake District, the edges of the Peak District or Yorkshire, the Lancashire quarries or the bouldering in Bowland. What great friendships shared. As somebody said – “we had it all”
Time moves on, life evolves I’ve lost a great many friends in those years, that is the worst thing. My climbing unfortunately has taken a back seat for all sorts of reasons – OK I’m getting old and the joints aren’t what they used to be. But I’m not giving up that easily.
Today I find myself hanging from an abseil rope doing a spot of ‘cleaning’ in Kemple End. I love it up here. Those views over the Ribble Valley, the deer hiding in the quarry floor, the fresh green growth of bracken, the barn owl roosting across the other side, the thrill if anybody else is climbing here, the first chalked up handhold and the familiar movement across the rough rock, brushing off any loose dust.
Someone has reported, on a climbing forum, concerns about a hanging flake on one of the climbs – Birdy Brow for those familiar. I’ve soloed up and down this route, perhaps recklessly, for many years enjoying the positive layback moves on the flake’s edge. It has never moved.
I went back up there a few days ago and all seemed well but when you examined the flake carefully it was only balanced there by a bit of soil. There was no direct attachment to the quarry face. I felt a pang of conscience – what if someone was injured or worse, killed on this route. I was responsible for finding the route and publishing it to the climbing network. There it was in print in the Lancashire guide book, it even has a star.
Here’s a great photo of Phil Gillespie soloing it – (?copyright UK Climbing)
I’m back today intending to remove the flake which must weigh a ton. Hence, the abseil rope. I’ve brought a crow bar, but it only moves the flake a little, Maybe it is more secure than I thought, but once started I may have made the situation worse. Huffing and puffing I realise I don’t have the strength to prise it from its resting place. My car is only 50 m away and in the boot is the jack – never used in earnest before. Is this a job for the AA?
I return and carefully place the carjack between rock and flake, a few turns of the screw and I can see results. Slowly the gap is widening, and I have time to ensure my safety and recover the jack intact as all that rock crashes to the ground. With a touch of sadness I realise the flake is no more. But there is one hell of a mess of broken rock on the quarry floor and some revision due to the climbs here.
All looks well on Birdy Brow.
Well maybe not.
That’s a lot of rock to fall down on you.
Jack in place. Does this photo make you feel dizzy?
A new scar to climb.
As I said my first post ever was about climbing at Kemple End, so it was fitting that this, my 1000th post, was on the same locality. Unfortunately I managed to delete a past post into the ether yesterday, so technically this post no 999, but I’m not having that.
This is my 1000th post – maybe it is time to stop?
To mark the Easter visit of my family from Manchester a Chinese noodle lunch was enjoyed; and then whilst the physiotherapist was diagnosing my knee problem, resulting from that cycling incident last month, they exercised the dogs up on Longridge Fell. Back at home after coffee my three grandchildren were keen to do a little outside bouldering at the local unique Craig y Longridge. Where they live in Stretford is a bouldering gym, The Depot, which they regularly visit so a chance to get outside was eagerly anticipated. Despite the recent damp weather I was able to find dry rock to climb on and in my senior and injured role was happy to point them at the problems. Great to see them enjoying themselves.
By the time we got back the washing up had all been done. Perfect.
The weather this weekend has been dry and sunny, just the ticket to bring Craig Y Longridge into condition. I made a tentative step with my bouldering mat for the first time this year. A few others were doing the same, a good family venue, so there was the chance for some chat between the attempts to test our fitness. Mine is sadly lacking, not having climbed for 6 months, the others had been enjoying the delights of indoor walls over winter which makes a big difference. I played about for an hour or so, more putting some chalk on the holds rather than climbing them.
I made my retreat across the road for some bird watching on the small reservoir. Tufted Ducks and a Great Crested Grebe.
The last four days I’ve been up on Longridge Fell, four short walks. Today, the weather is too bad to contemplate going outdoors. Looking out of my window, I can now just see the lower slopes of the fell above the roofs of the ghastly building site. In the fields opposite, soon all will be brick.
Saturday, I was feeling stiff from our excursions on Crookrise the day before. But the afternoon was too good to miss, so I thought I would have another look at the tree damage on the ridge path through the forest. Nothing much has changed, and it is still difficult and awkward to follow. In one or two places, a chain saw, person unknown, has been in action to cut a way through.
I met a chap and his energetic Springer Spaniel walking far quicker than I over the fell, a quick hello was all I managed before he sped into the trees. On the return journey, a recognisable Springer appeared at my heals and yes, looking behind was his master rapidly gaining ground. To cut a long story short, after some pleasant conversation, with the chap not the dog, it turned out he’d suffered a heart attack several years ago and following bypass surgery in Blackpool made a good recovery. His daily heart physio was a brisk walk on the fell, I applauded him on his fitness and expect to bump into him again if I can keep up. A positive lesson to us all.
Sunday came and almost went before I roused myself and suggested to Mike an afternoon stroll around the Cowley Brook Plantation on the edge of the fell. We caught up on our goings-on and enjoyed the warmth of the weak sunshine. We used some firebreaks through the conifers to the lower water intake and then followed the lively stream back up the hill. All very pleasant in this United Utilities land recently opened up for public access.
Monday morning, after arriving back from shopping, JD was on the phone stating confidently that there was a two-hour break in the rain and proposing a walk on the fell. He is not usually that optimistic. A quick change and we were leaving his house for a well-used walk along the northern base of the fell. The fields were decidedly boggy, and we often seemed to go astray on occasions linking up the farms. In the past, we have had trouble through the pheasant shooting woods where fences seem to cut through the rights of way, today was no exception with the odd fallen tree also blocking our way.
But what was to follow was unbelievable. The path goes steeply up the hillside through the woods to reach the golf course. We found the majority of the trees snapped or uprooted, a scene of complete devastation. I was too shocked to take my camera out. We battled on to find even worse, with a new sign saying the way was closed due to the tree damage. It was too late to go back, so a wall and fence were carefully climbed and then the worst of the devastation avoided reaching the empty golf course closed due to waterlogging. Of course, where we exited was a notice saying the way was closed. Too true. By then, our two-hour slot was over, the rain followed us all the way back to town. We were thoroughly soaked by then, and I just wanted to get home for a hot bath.
Tuesday and the sun appeared again. My lunchtime walk up the fell was accompanied by the sounds of joyful skylarks, a sure sign of spring. I had the trig point on Spire Hill to myself, which is unusual these days. As well as the Bowland Fells across Chipping Vale, the more distant Yorkshire three peaks were hazily visible on the horizon. I framed a photo of the trig point for a new desktop background. My usual ‘secret’ path back through the forest was also disrupted by fallen trees, It will be years before many of the damaged trees up here will be cleared. The car park at Cardwell House was filling as I arrived back.
Counting Crookrise on the Friday, that’s five out of five. Not bad for this time of year. Today I’m content just to walk up to the supermarket.
My hatches are well and truly battened. Storm Dudley has come and gone, and Storm Eunice is all around me. I won’t be venturing far – I have seen at close hand what a falling tree can do to a car. On the subject of trees falling, sadly I had one in my back garden yesterday, so I have been busy with the chain saw.
On a lighter note I had my family come visit me this week, a rarity in the last two years. There must have been an alignment of the planets so that both sons could join forces. We are still doing lateral flow tests before meeting – are we paranoid? I appreciate their concern for their possibly vulnerable dad.
Along came my son from Preston and the partnership from Stretford with their two robust dogs. Seth, my cat, sensibly retreated upstairs for the rest of the day. After a healthy lunch I needed to get them out of the house and up the fell – referring to the dogs if not the adults.
I’ve mentioned before the plantation at Cowley Brook on Longridge Fell. This is where we headed for some exercise. The dogs made the most of it, charging through the undergrowth and jumping into any patch of water.
Phoebe watches on as Gizmo is all a blur.
Is nobody joining me?
Back home we relaxed whilst the dogs slept. To put it all into context I’ve watched the men’s and women’s teams make it through to the finals of the Olympic curling. Brilliant, as they say – ‘chess on ice’. And can anyone explain to me why Europe is on the verge of another world war?
I’ve just come back from a ‘litter pick’ on Longridge Fell. It was a misty day with nothing better to do. The bag was half full of dog poo bags. My last post involved a lovely walk with Poppy, an Airedale terrier, and her responsible owner. No litter of any sort, human or canine, was deposited. Most dog owners I meet and chat to are insistent that they always clear up and dispose of sensibly. (Shazza and Eunice included I’m sure)
So, who are responsible for all those poo bags scattered across the countryside. Certainly not the dogs themselves. I suspect the same people who blazingly walk around the supermarket unmasked, who throw rubbish out of car windows, who park illegally in disabled bays, who block the pavements with their SUVs, who cut you up at motorway junctions with a finger in the air. Correct me if I’m biased, I’m getting old and crusty.
Come on, you selfish dog owners, bag it and take it home with you. Have a bit of responsibility, think about the environment and not yourselves.