Tag Archives: Longridge Fell

THE HODDER FROM BOTH SIDES.

                                                                       LOWER HODDER BRIDGE.

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

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

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

 

Bathing Huts, Early C20.

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

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

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

The Hodder upstream.

                                                            HIGHER HODDER BRIDGE.

*****

A STONYHURST CROSSES WALK.

FOUR NINE CROSSES AND A  STONE.

I have read of four old crosses at different locations around the Stonyhurst estate and have come across them on local walks. Apparently, pupils from the school used to visit each cross in an annual pilgrimage on Palm Sunday. I was keen to know more and maybe link the crosses myself. I phoned a recently retired Stonyhurst schoolmaster who was interested in the history of the school but he knew nothing of the four crosses’ pilgrimage. As it is now the summer holidays there is nobody at the school to ask further.

Internet searching gave me this –  “In the countryside around Stonyhurst, 4 crosses are situated, and on 16th March 2008 (Palm Sunday), a pilgrimage was made from the College to all of them.  This entailed a 5-mile walk that completely encircled the College, and showed off the wonderful countryside in a dramatic way.  It is hoped to repeat the same next year, and even make it an annual event. Fr John Twist, Stonyhurst College Chaplain, led the group on an attractive circular walk,”

The Pinfold Cross is a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells. It was erected in 1834 at Stockbridge after he died in a quarry accident. On the front is inscribed the legend, ‘WATCH FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’ Above this is written, ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’. On the left is ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’ and on the right, ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834′.

Cross Gills Farm Cross is thought to have come from a church. An old wives’ tale records how a farmer had to replace the cross when his cattle died after he had thrown the original into the river.

Stonyhurst Park Cross stands above the River Hodder in the woods close to the former Jesuit preparatory school, Hodder Place. A new cross was fixed to the ancient base in 1910, and was blessed on 12 June 1910 by the Jesuit provincial, Father Sykes; the origin of the base is unknown.

Saint Paulinus Cross stands at Kemple End on Longridge Fell and is a listed monument believed to date from Anglo-Saxon times. It may well mark a spot at which Saint Paulinus of York preached.

 

Left to my own devices I started to plot a route but I came up with four more crosses on the 1:25,000 map.

One in a plantation high on the Stonyhurst estate  I can find no information except it first appeared on maps in 1910. I went to look for it in early June.

Another on the village green In Hurst Green itself is Grade II listed – ‘The cross was possibly restored in the 19th century. It is in sandstone and has a base of three square steps. On the cross head is a roughly punched trefoil shape.’  Also on the village green are two more modern crosses, one for the Boer War and the other WW I & II.

*****

This last Saturday was set fair and I was free in the afternoon to walk around the Stonyhurst estate visiting the now eight crosses. Parking during Covid19 has been difficult in popular walking areas and when I arrived Hurst Green was just about full. My start was delayed talking to a local resident about all things viral and the latest village gossip.

First stop was the village green where there the two obvious large modern crosses stand. The WW one on a roundabout and the Boer War memorial, Celtic design, on the green.   But I could find no sign of the Grade II listed one on the west side of the green I even investigated the rockery stones of an adjacent garden.    So that was a bad start, two out of three.

WW Memorial. Three-sided – Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley.

Commemorates the services of Frederick Sleigh, first Earl Roberts KVCO, and his companions in arms, the Soldiers and Sailors of the Empire, who fought in South Africa 1899-1902

.

I crossed the road by the Shireburn Alms to locate a field path dropping down to the River Ribble and there at the gate was yet another ‘slate poem’ this time a simple one.

Green fields led down to the Ribble close to where an aqueduct crosses over. There were several groups of walkers coming along the banks almost at the end of their Tolkien Trail.

I was heading upstream to find a path branching up towards a conical hill with a cross clearly seen on its top. This is the Cross Gills Cross. Unfortunately, the field it was in was surrounded by an electrified fence with the public right of way on the wrong side. A bit of crawling had me through. [I’m sure if you ask permission at Cross Gills Farm up the lane they would allow you access] The carved base of the cross looks much older than the rest which corresponds to its history. There were great views of Pendle from up here. Having crossed the main road tracks wound into the immaculate cricket ground of the college with its C19th brick pavilion. I skirt the college by Hall Barn, Gardener’s Cottage and Woodfields to enter open countryside.

The path enters the Over Hacking Woods and descends steep steps to the River Hodder. Near here are the ruins of bathing sheds used by the boys when swimming in the river in days gone by.

By the little stone bridge over a side stream I notice the base of a cross close to the river, this is not the Park Cross I was expecting. It is not marked on the modern 1:25,000 map but I later find is shown on the 1894 edition. So I now have a 9th cross of unknown origin.

The path climbs again and at the top of the steps, I see the Park Cross.

Onwards through the woods with occasional glimpses of the Hodder. I have to pay attention as I’m looking for a side path leading up to Rydding’s Farm, it is not marked but I climb the hillside to a stile on the skyline. A good place to rest with a drink and snack. Whilst perched up here in the field below a man is training his black retriever to fetch. He has some sort of gun that goes off with a loud bang and shoots out a plastic ‘ball’ a considerable distance. The dog had no difficulty retrieving with a few whistle prompts from his master. All this no doubt trying to simulate a shot pheasant.

I now have to climb further towards Kemple End for the next cross. The footpath near the top enters an enclosure but fortunately  I can go round the end of the wall into the field where the Paulinus Cross is found. It is a strange shaped weathered cross sitting in a large base. Legend says that St, Paulinus preached here during his Christian mission to Northern England around 619 – 633 AD. It is certainly a commanding situation with views over the Ribble Valley and further afield.

I was soon on the Old Clitheroe Road which with virtually no traffic was pleasant to walk along on the side of Longridge Fell passing some interesting properties on the way.

On a previous recce to the next cross, I’d ended up in the replanted forest which was extremely difficult to walk through. I’d spotted a short cut across a field avoiding the worst. Tonight the field was full of cows with their calves, I hesitated at the gate but reckoned I could go round the herd without disturbing them. It was only when I was halfway across I spotted the bull in amongst his ladies. I was quickly over the wall into the woods and only 100 yds to the hidden cross on its hillock. I wouldn’t think anybody has been here since my last visit. Somebody must know something of its history.

My escape track from last time was virtually obliterated by tall bracken and if I hadn’t known it was there I would have had problems. The track appeared and took me out – as far as the ford over the stream, last time I hopped across dry footed but today it was in flood. I spotted a nearby log bridge but that took some nerve and concentration to commit to its slippery surface.

I emerged back onto the bridleway near the distinctive Greengore, a previous hunting lodge.

The little footpath into the woods is easy to miss. The path drops down to that stream again but this time there is a sturdy bridge.

The way now goes past Higher Deer House another reminder of Stonyhursts past, today there were only cattle in the park. Notice the evening light.

This little chap needed a helping hand to escape the grid –

The farm lane brought me onto the road close to my next cross, the prominent Pinfold Cross with its thoughtful inscriptions.

I was on the home leg now, down the lane to Stonyhurst College lakes and up the long drag to the Virgin Mary Statue. At the top I noticed, I think for the first time, Cromwell’s Stone. According to tradition, Cromwell, on the way to the Battle of Preston in 1648 stood on this stone and described the mansion ahead of him as “the finest half-house in England” as at that time the building was incomplete. For more legends and history of Stonyhurst, this site is worth a read –  https://lancashirepast.com/2018/03/11/stonyhurst-hall-and-college/

Cromwell’s Stone.

Hurst Green had returned to its peaceful self when I arrived back at my car about 7pm. I’d had a good 9-mile walk in grand Lancashire countryside, visited 8 crosses and a stone but it was still niggling me that I couldn’t find the listed cross on the green. As I drove away I spotted a lady tidying her rockery adjoining the green. An opportunity I couldn’t miss. Parked up I enquired of her about the cross. She was a little reticent at first but once I’d explained my pilgrimage she volunteered the fact that the cross was inside her neighbour’s garden and no they didn’t want people wandering in. We passed the time of day and as I was about to go she kindly said I could just about see it from her garden. And there was the Grade II Listed Cross hidden behind an Acer, a short cross on a large base.    Can you see it?

 

*****

*****

OS GRID REFERENCES.

WWI/II Memorial.                      SD 6853 3792

Boer War Memorial.                  SD 6851 3793

Listed Cross.                                SD 6843 3791

Cross Gills Cross.                        SD 6955 3785

Cross base by the Hodder.        SD 6998 3999

Park Cross.                                   SD 6988 3998

Paulinus Cross.                            SD 6864 4044

Hidden Cross.                              SD 6717 3986

Pinfold Cross.                              SD 6825 3980

Cromwell’s Stone.                       SD 6834 3854

 

…IT’S EXERCISE AFTER ALL.

When I pulled my curtains open this morning at about 7am people were already taking their daily exercise. They were the wise ones as the forecast was for the hottest day of the year by this afternoon. I considered, indeed almost succumbed to a quick breakfast and away. But no my daily sloth had me back in bed with the first coffee of the morning. I seem to be getting through vast amounts of ground coffee, there is another delivery expected tomorrow morning.

A second coffee followed as I sorted through my emails etc. A friend living in France has been in severe lockdown but now because of their diligence is allowed out to live more or less normally. He sent me a recent picture of his 3-month scruffy beard.

My enthusiasm for exercise fluctuates with the day, At the weekend I did a couple of decent walks. Yesterday I could not even summon the effort to drive across to East Lancs to climb with my friends – I’m still not convinced about keeping to 2m social isolation on such escapades.

Today would have been lovely up on Parlick and Fairsnape but I haven’t yet got my head around the risk factors of high moorland walking. Last week a group of people I know, local fell runners, had a simple run up Beacon Fell which ended up with a helicopter rescue of one of them. I know I’m becoming paranoid. All the excitement and hullabaloo of opening shops and pubs passes me by. Note that the medical establishment, which the politicians are casting aside, have issued warnings of progressing out of lockdown too rapidly. So I’ll be keeping to my relative shielding and the 2 metres distancing for a few more weeks until I can see we may have turned a corner.

So where do I go today?

Yes, you have guessed it – Longridge Fell. I opt for a simple circuit around the lanes up and down from Longridge onto the western half of the fell.

My enthusiasm increases with every few hundred feet of climbing. I take a keen interest in the flora on the verges. There is virtually no traffic to disturb me. I watch butterflies flitting over the flowers and marvel at the dedication some photographers must have to produce even the simplest of shots. See https://beatingthebounds.wordpress.com/ for an idea of what can be achieved locally.

At the point where the road went left, I decided to carry on and pick up tracks leading to the trig point. By now I was walking freely and could have continued for miles to the east with no way of getting home. As I climbed higher the heather which a week ago was nondescript was beginning to flower. I suspect this summer with all the moisture and now the heat we should have a good display on the fells. There is nothing finer than a purple hillside. Oh and I noticed a few small bilberries beginning to appear – get out the pie-dish.

Ir was only when I was on the summit ridge that I met anybody. A man with two young girls who had been collecting sheep’s wool, the oldest, about 5, suggested her mother could make a sheep out of it which seemed perfectly reasonable. A young man looking for a different way off the fell, no he didn’t have a map. I sent him on his way with precise directions but I had doubts as to his navigational skills. A young couple, new to the area, taking selfies on the edge of the escarpment with Chipping Vale below and the Bowland Fells in the background.

Reaching the car park I was admiring a modern smart fourth-generation Mazda MX 5, [I have a 15-year-old Second Generation convertible.] It turned out to belong to the young couple so we had an extended conversation on a wide variety of topics before they sped off down to Chipping with the wind in their hair.

I was now on my homeward stretch down past the golf course with hazy Longridge ahead. I reached the little reservoir at the top of Longridge where I was on the lookout for grebes which often nest here. Some youngsters had climbed over the wall and were settling into a picnic above the water’s edge, all strictly private water board land. I jokingly admonished them for trespassing and said they didn’t want to be caught there when the water bailiff came around. I’d only walked about 50 yards when round the corner came the Waterboard van which stopped and gave a severe telling off to the youths who slinked away looking rather crestfallen.

By the time I reached home, it was far too hot to contemplate gardening.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be away with the larks.

*****

 

 

 

SOMETIMES.

I found this slate poem tonight, the latest one I’ve come across on Longridge Fell during this Covid pandemic.

Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh.

Sometimes things don’t go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

 

I was at the far end of the fell, once more seeking solitude. Dark clouds were gathering and I set off up a sidetrack more in hope than optimism. I was not very optimistic about staying dry but I hoped I would.  One can be pessimistic but hopeful at the same time. The above poem, by Sheenagh Pugh, expresses similar ideas I think.

It was only a short walk to clear my head, there were some large drops of rain for a short time but I was back at the car before the forecast storm.  A triumph of hope over optimism.

*****

The slow progress out of this pandemic is of concern to me especially as lockdown is being lifted quickly without good medical evidence. There are still a significant number of daily deaths and the magic R number is struggling to stay under 1.  Boris wants us all to go shopping next week, that shows where his priorities lie – certainly not with the vulnerable in our society.

My optimism for a successful outcome is dwindling – I will just have to hope from now on.

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – UP AND OVER.

Eddie Waring commentated in his thick Yorkshire accent on Rugby League games in the ’60s and ’70s, one of his utterings “it’s an up and under” became almost a catchphrase. Planning this evening’s walk I wanted to push myself a little to see if my breathing had improved. For about a month or so I became breathless with the slightest of exertions which was rather disturbing, a persistent cough did not fill me with confidence either. I had a feeling I was on the mend so I needed some uphill walking. I had Eddie’s phrase at the back of my mind when I decided on an up and over walk across Longridge Fell. I’ve survived about 1000ft of ascent without too much stopping so I consider it a success.

The start of the up was on the south side of the fell, the over took me down the north side which left me with another up and over to complete the evening. The evening turned out sunny and calm with clear views in all directions, perfect walking conditions.

Although I’m trying my best to isolate myself from humanity and the lurking virus a few chance encounters enlivened the walk.

A few hundred yards through the rapidly growing plantation brings one to a little beck, Brownslow Brook. This is a favourite place of mine where the water tumbles out of the trees under a couple of wooden bridges before disappearing once again to emerge at the road to head down to Hurst Green as Dean Brook. I crossed it several times on my last outing. I often brought my boys here for dam building practice and have continued the ritual with my grandchildren. Tonight a couple were throwing sticks into the water for their Spaniel to retrieve, they were trying to wash off the dirt he had gathered from falling into a peat bog earlier. All three of them seemed to be enjoying the game.

Steeper climbing followed passing my favourite Beech tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above the path winds upwards through recently felled land and someone has been at work creating a mountain bike track with curves and jumps incorporated, it looked great fun.

On cresting the ridge you enter thicker mature woodland where in the past I have enjoyed several nights wild camping. I was aiming for the path going off the fell when I heard thumping noises just below. I ventured into the trees to investigate and found three pleasant young lads creating a steep downhill MB track. They were hard at work with spades and rakes. What a contrast to the youths inundating and despoiling our other beauty spots on recent weekends. I wished them well and will check on their progress next time I’m passing.

I found my own less steep rake going down the north side of the fell. It was an utter delight with the Vale of Chipping spread out below and the Bowland Hills in the background. [Header photo] Easy walking took me past Rakefoot Farm and out onto the Chaigley Road. I only had to walk a couple of hundred yards before a footpath sign pointed the way for my next up and over. This path had not been walked very often and degenerated into an assault course through nettles and brambles. Just when I thought I’d overcome the worst it turned into more of a stream than a path. My attention wandered to the flora beneath my feet and I was impressed by some of the smallest flowers I’ve seen. Minute water forget-me-nots and an unidentified even tinier chickweed type flower.  Trying to photo them with my phone was another matter.

At last, I was back on the open fell and climbing a definite rake without undue breathlessness. Once again there were minute flowers beneath my feet, one of the Bedstraws. As I had had enough ascent I did not feel the need to divert the short distance to the trig point. I did have time for one last backward view of Chipping Vale Bathed in the evening light. I then crossed the ridge and headed back into the forest for the downhill bit. The forest seemed empty and I made good progress on familiar tracks.

That was until I was further down and I came across the aftermath of last week’s forest fire. I was uncertain as to its whereabouts until now. Fire breaks had been created to prevent the fire from spreading. What a valiant effort from the firefighters otherwise the whole of the forest could have been lost. I chatted to a local who was also investigating the scene, we are not sure that the cause has been identified yet.

MEN Media

*****

On the way home I came across another of those inspiring poems inscribed on a slate that someone has been leaving around the fell.

“This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.”

John O’Donohue.

 

At the end of the walk I felt I’d found my feet and the air was kind.

*****

PENDLE TONIGHT.

The Lancashire countryside looks so clean with Pendle in the background.

I’ve been out for a short walk this beautiful evening. Can’t reveal where. Whilst we are in lockdown is an ideal time to go trespassing to local places I’ve always been intrigued by.

but I’ve still not found what I’m looking for…

THE HIDDEN CROSS.

When I was out the other evening I discussed the Stonyhurst Crosses and mentioned I’d spotted another one nearby marked on the map.

The cross was not marked precisely and appeared to be in the middle of a plantation with no obvious access. Aerial views didn’t show it.   I could find no reference to it in Stonyhurst’s history.

As it is just a short ride up the hill and they have opened the roads after the plantation fires I went for a quick look this afternoon. I was able to hop over the wall near the water catchment plant on Brownslow Brook. Two more walls and I was in the plantation. There has been recent felling and replanting so the going was difficult. I made for the highest point and there amongst some mature trees was the cross. An old-looking base supporting a well carved more modern stone cross. There were no inscriptions.

Close by there was evidence of previous game bird breeding, enclosures and feeding stations, but no other sign of human passage. I fought my way through the plantation to make my escape. It is going to be difficult to incorporate this unnamed cross into my planned walk around the “Stonyhurst Crosses”

DISTRACTED IN THE WOODS.

                                                       The River Hodder from the Higher Bridge.

The roads at this end of  Longridge Fell were still closed as they damped down the forest fires so I drove to the far end and parked near Higher Hodder Bridge. My plan was a short evening walk up to Kemple End quarry for a bit of bouldering.

I always enjoy the path through the trees above the Hodder. The spring foliage on the trees cut out some of the river views. Normally I spot herons, kingfishers and dippers on this stretch but not tonight.  But I was enjoying the way so much that I ignored the intended path that would have taken me up the fell and I continued along the river.

A mother and her two children were engrossed in the river.

The path at one point climbs away from the river and I knew of the cross in the woods on this stretch, Stonyhurst Park Cross stands above the River Hodder close to the former preparatory school, Hodder Place [now apartments]. A new cross was fixed to the ancient base in 1910, and was blessed on 12 June 1910 by the Jesuit provincial, Father Sykes; the origin of the earlier monument is unknown.

[This set me thinking – I had passed the Pinfold Cross near Stockbridge yesterday and I knew of two more crosses possibly related to Stonyhurst. Saint Paulinus’ Cross near Kemple End and Cross Gills Farm Cross near the Ribble. There is some evidence that pupils of Stonyhurst would walk between the four crosses on Palm Sunday. That seemed a ready-made walk for me to follow. But looking at the map I found another unnamed cross in the woods near SD672398 and there is a cross of uncertain age in Hurst Green. Watch this space.]

Today I noticed a faint path leading up into the woods behind the cross which I followed to some steep old steps. I climbed up these higher into the trees where I found another little path heading onwards. I imagined I would be able to cut across directly to Kemple End but at the edge of the woods were barbed wire fences and ahead unknown fields with what looked like one of those glamping developments. I did have a good view of Pendle from up here above the trees before I retreated all the way back down to the cross.

I knew the accepted footpath out of the woods up lots of steps and into fields leading to Stonyhurst, this is part of the now popular Tolkien Trail.

So I found myself on the lane around the college. It was a beautiful sunny evening and I wandered on. I became a little lost again in the fields but found my way up to Kemple End, it had taken me longer than I thought to reach here. There were the usual good views, particularly to Whalley Viaduct prominent below the Nab and the Hameldon Hills in the background.

A short walk down the lane and  I was back in fields heading towards the river. Halfway down my phone rang and while I took the rather long call I found a nice grassy area in the sunshine to lie down on. Later a bit further on I was crossing the footbridge which replaced a stone clapper bridge and wanted to take a photo. I realised I’d lost my camera, probably while I’d been reclining. I  retraced my steps and then spent a good 15minutes combing the slope I’d been on before I spotted the camera.

 

The old clapper bridge.

I was soon back at Higher Hodder Bridge. I hadn’t really met anyone, perfect.

*****

 

LONGRIDGE FELL – THREE QUESTIONS ANSWERED.

Mr and Mrs Stonyhurst.

Another walk on the quiet side of the Longridge Fell.

As I write this there is a large fire blazing in a plantation somewhere up there possibly even on this route from the other day. I assure you I did not have any part in its genesis.

I  don’t have any questions on my mind as I stroll down the bridleway past Crowshaw House. The crowds have gone the other way up onto Longridge Fell on the forestry tracks so I have my paths to myself. I’m tempted to trespass and have a look at the hidden lake which is part of the Stonyhurst Estate, another time maybe. So on past buttresssed Greengore, an ancient shooting lodge which I’ve photographed many times. A little stile, which could easily be missed, on the left, leads to a faint path through the trees and down to cross Dean Brook by a footbridge. Up the other side, you come out into fields by Higher Deer House, another sign of the estate’s deer park from the past.

Stonyhurst College on the lower slopes of Longridge Fell has a long history first as a private estate of the Shireburn family and then as a Catholic College. The village of Hurst Green is an integral neighbour of the estate,

I follow the track out to the road and immediately come face to face with the Pinfold Cross with its ominous inscription – ‘WATCH FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’

I’ve often stopped to read this but have not noticed the other inscription above  ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’ and more importantly on the left ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’  and on the right ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834′ This extra information allowed me to track down the origins of the cross – a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells, who fell to his death in a quarry nearby. I never knew that so I have answered one of my outstanding questions already about Stonyhurst.

Down the lane before Stockbridge Cottages, properties of the college, I pick up a well-trodden path heading up the fell towards Kemple End quarries. This appears as a sunken track and I’ve heard possibly that it was a trackway used for bringing stone down from the quarries to Hurst Green for the construction of parts of Stonyhurst. Today the local farmer was out checking his fences and was keen to chat. So question two – what was the track for? Yes, he explained it was a sledge way pulled by horses from the quarry. The barn at the bottom which I had just passed was used for stabling the horses.

Another query I had was about the Almshouses in Hurst Green which were apparently built high on Longridge Fell and at some later date moved stone by stone and re-erected in the village. That was a known fact but I often wondered where they had been on the Fell originally. The farmer supplied his answer that they had been just above the road near Leeming quarry in an area known as the Blue Lagoon. That seems feasible.

Hurst Green Almshouses.

Original site.

The Blue Lagoon.

 

Once up at Kemple End I had a short drink’s break and contemplated which way to take back to my car, along the road or the slightly longer and higher forest tracks. Obviously, the latter was chosen. I was wandering slowly up the zigzags looking at the flora when a young man caught me up. Keeping to our regulation 2m social distancing we chatted for a while. He had set himself a challenge for his lockdown period, 50 hills within walking distance of Clitheroe. I enthused about his project and wished him well.

My favourite cottage at Kemple End.

A few more people were using these forest tracks but it was easy to keep clear of them, is this how paranoia starts? A friend came by on his mountain bike with his 3year old son riding high at the front, his wife followed on using an electric mountain bike.

I had enjoyed a leisurely 6mile stroll on a busy weekend avoiding most of humanity and discovered a few more pieces of local history.

 

 

*****

WHAT’S NEXT?

This evening’s Clitheroe under Pendle.

It’s all happening fast, maybe a little too fast.

The government’s [they now try to label it as the NHS’s for scientific kudos] Tell, Track and Trace scheme came into being yesterday although they forgot to tell most of the volunteer trackers. The pilot scheme of smartphone tracking, used by most other countries for accuracy, failed in the Isle of White and is nowhere near ready despite us being promised it would be underway mid-May.

So we are left with a ragtail plan for the good British public to have a test if they feel unwell with Covid19 symptoms and then tell a phone operator the names and addresses of all their contacts, as if they would know.. Those contacts will then have to voluntarily self-isolate almost without realising why.   It won’t work.

At the same time, despite there being a high incidence of viral infection still, we are being allowed to meet up with more family and friends. Social distancing of course in the garden and using the loo when you’ve had too much to drink. This for some reason starts on Monday, why tell us before a hot sunny weekend when half the population will take it into their own hands and interpretations tonight.

How long before the second peak? We are already leading most of the world in deaths per capita.

With that background, I drove cautiously up the fell this evening when it had cooled down. I expected I would have the little quarry up on Kemple End to myself for some safe low-level bouldering. And so I brought my brain into action with climbing moves I’ve not executed for months. The very act of climbing concentrates the mind to the exclusion of most other incidental thoughts. The trees on the quarry floor have grown and leafed up. There was bird song everywhere, though I couldn’t identify any. I was isolated from the rest of the world and its troubles for a short spell.

After my short-lived exertions, I climbed back up and viewed the Ribble Valley with Clitheroe and Pendle Hill prominent. My photo of this tranquil scene heads the post.

I then drove back to reality.

As I write this the sounds and smells of barbeques drift through my window.

I know where I’ll be as lockdown is lifted.

*****

Breaking news…So all’s OK.

 

OUT WITH THE LARK.

He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake,                                                                                                     George Meredith.

It was that sort of morning. I wasn’t exactly up with the lark but they were singing on high as I set off up the fell. The sky hanging above the heather was blue with a few wisps of white cloud, a lark sky if ever I saw one.

I strolled up the slope, my breathing has been laboured recently. My mood lifted with every step. The Vale of Chipping has taken on a new life as fields are cut and the patchwork of colours intensifies. It is good to see the progress of agriculture down there from up here.

The trig point is reached with little effort. How many times have I been up here? How many times have I photographed the pillar against the background of the Bowland Fells? The Yorkshire three peaks are in haze.

I wander on and dive into the dark forest on a track I know brings me out above the Ribble Valley. The warm scent of the new pine needles is intoxicating. Memories of Alpine days drift by.

I forget to look at Pendle as my gaze is down to the little reservoir where I saw the Canada Goose chicks the other day. The same cuckoo is calling somewhere in the trees and the same Stonechat singing on his wall perch.

Is this next bird a Meadow Pipit or a Skylark?  [no obvious crest] I’m back at the car after a magic hour and a half. I used to run that stretch in about 20minutes. Today I was happy to take in the skies and the larks.

*****

POETIC LICENSE – The Road Not Taken.

Yesterday my plan was to wait until early evening before venturing out. It’s a nice time of day and there should be fewer people about. Now that I’ve been out once in the car to reach Longridge Fell for a walk I hoped to go further.

Every parking place on the southern side of the fell was packed, with cars alongside the roads.

I lost heart and drove home.

But before I threw in the towel I discovered another three ‘slate poems’ propped up at the popular spots.  They seem to keep appearing as if by magic and each one has a beautifully written verse reflecting our environment and possibly our predicament.

Thank you whoever you are.

Tonight’s three –

Katrina Porteous.

What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it whatever you want, it is
happiness,

Mary Oliver.

BROADENED HORIZONS.

Covid-19 Bank holiday beach Bournemouth.

My horizon for the last two months has been the fields at the back of my house with the Bowland  Fells in the background. I stayed in completely for the first four weeks or so and then only ventured out at quiet times on circumscribed local footpaths and lanes. The advice on lockdown changed for all of us, not just Dominic Cummings, a week or so ago. Hence the rush to the tourist hotspots and what looked to me like civil disorder. I was in no rush to follow.

Today I had a little job to do on the edge of the village, pin up a notice from the BMC relating to Covid19 risks on the gate leading into Craig Y Longridge, the local bouldering crag. So out came the car for the first time in weeks for a trip up there. The notice was in place but I for one won’t be going there to climb for some time as it is just like an indoor climbing wall with social distancing difficult and repeated use of the same holds by one and all.

Anyhow as I was out I thought I would drive further up the fell to a quiet parking spot, away from the bank holiday crowds, for a short walk with a change of scenery.

I parked by the temporarily closed New Drop Inn and for awhile watched the house martins flying back and forth to their nests under the eaves. I’m not sure whether I managed a photo or not with my snap and shoot camera.

The best I could do.

A little way down the road a footpath sign pointed into a field. From the map, the path crosses the field diagonally but the grass was very long and nobody had ventured across. I decided instead to follow the top boundary where there had been a tractor. All went well and gates gave access to more fields until I was stopped by barbed wire which was easily circumvented to put me onto the right of way.  This was no clearer but I kept finding broken stiles and gates leading to the industrial/agricultural buildings of Hougher Fall Farm, now restyled romantically as Bowland Forest Eggs. I made my escape to the Old Clitheroe Road. it had taken me over half an hour to walk half a mile but I’d enjoyed the exploration.

No obvious path.

Make your own way.

Back on track?

 

Escape.

I remembered a track going off left from near here past an old reservoir. The gate was just down the road and propped up next to it a slate with a lovely handwritten poem by a Kathleen Jamie which I rather liked.

Through the gate and just off the track is the little reservoir where I watched a pair of Canada Geese paddling across the water with their six chicks.  I was watching them when a female pheasant walked by with a couple of chicks.

Across rough ground were some grassed over quarries, marked on the map as Gannow Quarry. I imagined I’d spotted a climbable rock face but when I’d walked up to investigate it was only six feet high. I assume these small quarries were opened up for the reservoir construction.

Lennox Farm is being knocked about and extended. I’d reached the lane going up to the kennels and onto Longridge Fell, I was feeling breathless, hayfever?  and I almost aborted the walk by turning downhill back to the road. Something made me turn left and carry on up onto the fell, puffing all the way. It was worth it for the hazy views over the Ribble Valley and the mature pines.

I met the first people of the day on the edge of the forest. Three mountain bikers up from Preston who seemed totally oblivious to the present crisis – “nothing  to worry about mate”

Walking down by the fell wall I stopped to listen to my first cuckoo of the year and a finch? landed on the wall in front of me.

Back at the Newdrop I came across another poem slate this time a poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Are there more about?  There seems to be an environmental theme possibly related to our present viral problems. I will keep my eyes open for them.

A strange walk really, I just followed my nose and pottered along taking in whatever came by and more came along than expected.  Yet another Covid-19 local walk of exploration and enlightenment.

*****

 

 

 

MIXED BLESSINGS.

I realised today I’d not been out on a walk for some time. What day is it anyhow?

Last week seemed fragile topsy turvy and the last couple of days I’ve been head down in the garden. I’ve finished painting the pebble dash on my garage and have cut down a Mountain Ash that looked decidedly unhealthy last year and has shown no sign of budding this spring. By tea time I was knackered so I set off on a walk.

I had two objectives. One was to explore a little further up onto the slopes of Longridge Fell putting some ascent into my walks and secondly to gather some wild garlic leaves and flowers for cooking.

The local cricket field was immaculate for ghost players.

It was a mistake to head out on the Chipping Road and go up Mile Lane. Half the population of Longridge were using this route and I was constantly being closely passed by heavy breathing joggers. I felt quite uncomfortable as up to now I’ve been more or less completely self-isolated.

With relief, I entered field paths near the top of the lane, Old Rhodes,  where I could relax and take in the views. I don’t think the pheasant jogging past posed any risk.

I wandered down a rough lane to pass through Little Town Farm. This is a mainly dairy herd farm producing thousands of gallons of milk from their automated milking parlours. A few years ago they diversified by making yoghurt and opened a farm shop, cafe and small garden centre. It has become a popular destination for the locals to lunch out and buy fresh products. Due to the Covid19 restrictions, the cafe and garden centre are closed although there is limited access to the farm shop. Thankfully they are able to distribute most of their milk to the local cheesemakers while you hear of other farmers having to pour excess milk away.

Across the road and I was heading down to Ferrari’s Country Hotel and Restaurant, another place affected by the virus lockdown, they are doing takeaways to tick over. This is where I was able to pick the garlic and also get a glance of flowering bluebells which I’d missed so far this year

.

The evening sun was delightful as I followed familiar paths home through lush green fields with the Bowland Fells in the background.  For supper, I enjoyed a poached egg on a bed of garlic leaves with new potatoes.

In future, I will avoid the lanes close to the village, why don’t I get it right in the first place?. The spring sunshine was a tonic but I was really unhappy about the number of people moving about.

Back into the garden tomorrow…

*****

Unfortunately, I’ve just watched the news on TV. I fluctuate between crying for the loss of life and the personal tales from care homes who are taking the brunt of deaths at the moment and screaming at the TV politicians attempting a positive spin on testing whilst the death toll has yet again increased. I’m ashamed we are probably the worst in Europe. I fear the process of coming out of lockdown given the previous ineptitude of our government.

What value human life?  Can Manchester United et al start playing football soon?

*****

A GLOOMY LONGRIDGE FELL.

With all this wet weather I’ve become obsessive about keeping my feet dry and out of the mud so today I walk up Longridge Fell on forest tracks and return on the road. I’m still restricted to a few hours in the day so It suits me to do another short walk whilst the weather is dry. I’m following a popular dog walking trail, I can tell that from all those black plastic bags by the track but I don’t want to spoil my walk by becoming angry so I ignore them. Every time you come up here there has been more tree felling changing the nature of the walks. They seem to plant new saplings amongst the debris of the felling without worrying about the remaining stumps.

There is evidence of the strength of the recent storms with trees casually uprooted. Onwards and upwards I go, I have no intention of getting my trainers dirty by going to the summit, I’m content getting some exercise on the tracks. I detour to a viewpoint towards the Bowland Fells which I always enjoy. These are size 12s if you need any.

Back on the main track, it starts to descend in sweeping curves, would be great on a mountain bike, towards Kemple End with Pendle In the distance. On reaching the road all I have to do is turn right and follow it back to my car less than two miles away. I normally avoid roads when there are alternative paths but this quiet highway turns out to be pleasantly undulating with views to the south. It certainly serves the purpose of keeping my shoes clean and dry. Halfway along is a small stream, Brownslow Brook,  coming off Longridge Fell which appears to be culverted into a water collecting plant, I’ve never noticed it when driving this road and I can find no clue to its function. I’m back home for lunch thinking it was probably me rather than the fell that was gloomy.

*****

OUT OF LONGRIDGE.

I wake to bright sunshine but take some time and coffee to get going. The health of two of my best friends is deteriorating; one with heart and kidney failure, the other with cruel dementia. I was talking to them both yesterday and it struck me that it doesn’t seem long since we were out climbing and walking together. So you have caught me in a pensive mood, not at all that  ‘happy new year’ feeling. I should have arranged a walk with one of my other friends for today – to ‘get me out of it’ but now it’s too late, I’ll just have to go myself which is not good for those introspective thoughts but I usually find the combination of sunshine and exercise clears my mind.

I’ve had enough of muddy fields recently so I’m happy to walk on roads for some much-needed exercise after the season’s excesses. Living where I do I’m lucky to be able to walk out my door and ascend a fell, in fact, the most southerly named fell in Britain, Longridge Fell. I’ve done it hundreds of times before. No matter there is always something new or worthwhile.  To start I spot a half dozen partridges running across the road in front of me, is it a covey or a bevy? And then a buzzard on the telegraph wires. After that, I seem to run out of wildlife sitings. Longridge is surrounded by water in the form of reservoirs and I pass the smallest one on my way out of town. Then I walk below the golf course which looks in fine fettle for winter but it must be a struggle in the wind, it is so exposed to the elements.

The road, the old Clitheroe road which kept to high ground, goes up and down towards the New Drop Inn. Few cars pass me. Turning the corner here I am walking in the footsteps of the Romans, this was their way from Ribchester to Carlisle.  The highest point on the road is reached near Cardwell House and looking back Pendle Hill looks as proud as ever. I bump into an old friend taking his dog for some exercise up the fell, we chat about all things local. This is his favourite hill and he’ll have his ashes scattered nearby. Coincidentally this is also one of my favourite viewpoints and my ashes will be here too, I told you I was in a morbid mood.  Years ago I asked a local artist, A Lord, to paint me the view from here over Chipping Vale with the Fairsnape/Totridge ridge in the background.

This painting is one of my prized possessions with its links to a past friend and to this great viewpoint. In the painting are the white iron railings that were a common sight on road corners around here to improve visibility for the motorist. They are slowly disappearing, I’ve always thought they should be listed as unique structures.

The weather was changing, dark rain clouds circling around the hills with the occasional rainbow over Chipping. Soon it was all downhill back to Longridge. Five miles with five hundred feet of ascent in one and a half hours. That’s how you clear your mind. Oh, and I found three good golf balls to boot.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 3. LONGRIDGE FELL TO DUNSOP BRIDGE.

Across Chipping Vale.

Here I am back at the trig point on Longridge Fell, it is a beautiful, cold but sunny Autumn day. Sir Hugh has joined the fun and we’ve taken one car to Dunsop Bridge and driven back to park below the fell. I’m sorry we are not keeping to AW’s use of public transport.

A warm-up walk and a catch-up chat soon sees us on the ridge with the compulsory visit to the summit trig. A few people are wandering about up here not wanting to miss the good weather. After a photo session and orientation of distant hills, mainly the Fairsnape ridge, Bowland and the Three Peaks, we find the steep rake dropping down into the Vale of Chipping, spread out below us. Our distant destination of Dunsop Bridge visible in the folds of the fells. This brings us to the road next to the Bradley Hall complex of buildings. WW says to go through the complex but our more modern map says go round the diversion to the left. This is the start of troublesome field navigation for the next mile or so. The waymarks run out, the paths run out, the stiles disappear, the fields get boggier and we are left to our own devices, no fences were damaged, no wires cut when we finally stumbled down a ladder stile onto the road next to Doeford Bridge. I think it took us longer than we realised.

A sign tells us we are entering the Queen’s land which we enjoy for the rest of today

.

This beautiful sandstone bridge spans the Hodder just downstream from where the River Loud joins having come out of Chipping Vale. The bridge is sketched in AW’s Bowland book.

Doeford Bridge. 1981. A Wainwright

There was a good volume of water today after several days of heavy rain. Having crossed another field we dropped down to the Hodder which had looped round a different way.  I wanted to have a look at the stepping stones next to Stakes farm so we made the short diversion, there was no way you could have crossed the river here today. Luckily we found a bench overlooking the river and stopped for lunch.

AW?

Behind us was Stakes Farm an early C17th house with mullioned windows and a plaque in Latin, translation please. Amazingly a brick extension has been built into the angle between the two wings.

We follow fields just above the river. The area between Longridge Fell and the Bowland fells is beautiful and unknown countryside, especially in today’s sunny weather, backed by the dark hills. Across the river used to be a ‘Wild boar park’ but it has closed recently. We cross the road into more fields running above the Whiewell Gorge where the river runs deep in the woods. [It is on the opposite bank that you can find the Fairy Hole caves.] Views into the Bowland Fells surrounding Dunsop Bridge keep us going.

I think we are following one of the aqueducts taking water out of the to industrial Lancashire, the distinctive Waterboard gates accompany us. We drop down past a graveyard and pop out onto the road next to the famous Inn at Whitewell. There is time to have a look into the adjacent Church of St. Michael with its striking stained glass window.  We resisted calling at the inn as time was drifting on and I think once seated it would have been difficult to get going again. A permissive path close to The Hodder leads deeper into Bowland with the next feature sketched by AW – Burholme Bridge.

Above us on the right was the distinctive Birkett Fell scene of one of our recent struggles. Our pace was slowing and instead of the familiar track by the river to Thorneyholme we crossed the pipe bridge, erected by Blackburn Borough Waterboard in 1882. with its unusual turnstile gates at either end. The way along the river was convoluted as we bypassed Root Farm famous for Kettledrum, a Derby winner bred hereabouts. Our arrival into Dunsop Bridge was unfortunately too late to have tea at Puddleducks Cafe.

Dunsop Bridge.   A Wainwright 1981.

We reflected on this wonderful crossing of Chipping Vale, Lancashire at its very best but wondered why 8 miles seemed so far. I was glad I’d divided this stage of WW into two enjoyable days, days to be savoured.

Here is an evening photo of the rake we descended from Longridge Fell early in the day.

Possibly Sir Hugh may have a different view of the day.   http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 2. WHALLEY TO LONGRIDGE FELL.

The Ribble at Dinckley.

A Ribble Valley walk of history, graveyards and conversations along the way.

As I wait for a bus to take me to Whalley a lady of a certain age enquires as to my journey, I’m in boots with a rucksack and attached walking poles.  When I tell her of crossing the Ribble at Dinckley Bridge she recollects a time when a ferryman would take you over for a penny. It was like that in AW’s early years when he explored the Ribble Valley north of his home in Blackburn.

My bus deposits me in the middle of busy Whalley at 12.30, I’m a late starter these days. Wainwright’s Way takes me past the ancient parish church, I make a mental note to revisit between 2 and 5 when it is open. I do however make the effort to seek out some of the Saxon crosses in the churchyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walk past the Abbey grounds which I visited last weekend.   The lane out of town actually goes through the oldest West Gate.  It has an impressive ceiling but is somewhat diminished by the road passing through it. Almost immediately you pass through another arch, that of the railway viaduct, the longest and largest in Lancashire. 48 arches of immaculate brickwork. A functional ‘Old Sol’s Bridge’ crosses the Calder River, built in 1993 to replace the 1909 one of Solomon Longworth, a local mill owner. Backstreets of Billington, old and new, take me out through horsey country to cross the A59 and into a more rural scene. I wander across fields which have the clearest signing and stiles  I’ve come across, an example for other farmers to follow.  Although I’m aiming for Longridge Fell in the distance the view of Pendle behind me is everpresent.

I recognise Old Langho Church, built using stones from Whalley Abbey after the dissolution. I take a picture to compare with AW’s Ribble Sketchbook.

A Wainwright. 1980.

I then make the effort to seek out, in a far graveyard, the memorial to 600 who died in the nearby Brockhall Hospital. The tablet is inscribed …

‘In an isolated institution located to the northeast of this stone there lived from 1904 to 1992 a large number of people who were thought to be too strange, too difficult or too challenging to be cared for in their own communities. The institution, in turn, was called Lancashire Inebriates Reformatory (1904) Brockhall Hospital for Mental Defectives (1915) Brockhall Hospital for the Mentally Subnormal (1959) Brockhall Hospital for Mentally Handicapped People (1974) and Brockhall Hospital for People with Learning Disabilities (1991). Although those who lived there carried heavier burdens than most they were part of our common family.

‘Brockhall Hospital closed its doors in 1992 and the land on which it stood was acquired by Gerald Shimon Hitman of Newcastle upon Tyne who raised this stone as a memorial to those who ended their days in the hospital and are buried here. God full of compassion grant perfect rest beneath the shelter of your presence to these your children who have gone to their eternal home. Master of mercy, cover them in the shelter of your wings forever and bind their souls into the gathering of life. It is the Lord who is their heritage. May they be at peace in their place of rest.’

Poignantly, Gerald Hitman, mentioned on the memorial is buried nearby.

I pop into the old Bull Inn for a pint but am dismayed at the internal  ‘improvements’ that have totally destroyed the place. What a shame, another pub ruined, I shan’t be returning.

The footpath now goes alongside a development of ‘luxury lodges’ extending into the open countryside. A lady occupant says that they are holiday lets but that quite a few are permanent homes. How to get around our flimsy planning regulations. Another field ruined.

A steep drop leads to a hidden footbridge over a lively Dinkley Brook. I’ve never been here before. Soon a lane is reached, the line of a Roman Road from Ribchester to Ilkley. At a farm along here, I watch as a golfer practises his drives across the fields, he has spent his life as a dairy farmer and only now has time for leisure pastimes. He too remembers, as a child, the ferry at Dinkley and much more.

At last, I’m on the lane dropping down to the Ribble, Longridge Fell is ahead.  Two local ladies on their daily walk are also keen to chat refreshingly about the area until they realise they have to rush for the school pickup.

Dinkley Hall is too far away to observe behind ‘new’ barn conversions but the new shiny bridge is glimpsed below replacing the suspension bridge damaged by floods. The river scenery here is stunning and timeless. [heading photo]

A Wainwright. 1980.

Over the bridge The Ribble Way is joined – an ill-fated long-distance path but with perhaps the best-designed logo The lane up to Hurst Green goes on forever but there is an inn at the top if required. From up here, there is a view back to Whalley NabI had a snack sat on a bench next to a war memorial cross which unusually refers to The Boer War. It is inscribed – This cross commemorates the services of Frederick Sleigh first Earl Roberts K.G.V.C.and his companions in arms the soldiers and sailors of the Empire who fought in the South Africa Campaign 1899-1902.

Opposite on a small roundabout is the WW1/WW2 memorial. Higher in the village are the Shireburn Almshouses, sketched by AW, but when he was wandering this area as a youngster were still up on Longridge Fell. Erected in 1706 but removed and rebuilt in 1946 in the village providing accommodation for Stoneyhrst employees. I’ve never discovered why they were high on the fell in the first place.

Hurst Green Almshouses.

A Wainwright. 1980.

Stoneyhurst College is intricately associated with the village and much has been written about it.  Up the road, circumventing the graveyard, The Our Lady Statue looking down the avenue to the College has been restored and is shining bright, I think I prefered it as before. It is not marble but steel painted white. That famous view is also timeless, that’s not me yomping up the road.

My accent of Longridge Fell continued by picking up an old bridleway, a favourite of mine, alongside lively Dean Brook with its old bobbin mills and then past buttressed Greengore, an ancient hunting lodge.

The day was passing and the forecast predicted rain by 5pm.  There has been a lot of change up here with storm and fungus damage to the trees so I used local knowledge to find my own familiar tracks to the summit. The Bowland Hills across the Vale of Chipping were darkening and rain was spreading across the Fylde towards me. I reached my previously stashed cycle and hurtled down to Longridge just in time. I shall regain Wainwright’s Way at the summit trig point when time and weather allow.  Bring on Bowland.

*****

 

 

 

 

KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Beacon Fell.

Beacon Fell, Brock Bottoms and Kemple End.

It’s the summer holidays and I’m entertaining my youngest grandson for a couple of days, that’s all he has in his busy diary. I think of some local walks that will keep him interested and not be overdemanding. When I was his age, 11years, I could cover 20 miles no problem across rough moorland, alone and while smoking a few Woodbines.  Maybe not, but I think the generations have softened the Human Spirit. While he stays with me there is an unplugged mentality regarding mobile devices, I try to explain that nothing will happen whilst he is off line. He is not convinced.

He arrives with his stepmother, both keen to explore the local countryside. I’ve devised a route up onto Beacon Fell that is interesting, short and easy. They seem happy with it as we arrive at the cafe in time for lunch. On the way we passed Barnsfold Reservoir where his great grandad used to fish and paint piscatorial images for the fellow fishermen. I’ve often wondered what happened to those skilled canvases.  We marvelled at the size of two Buzzards wheeling overhead and we wondered about unusual tree fungi, a white bracket on a beech tree which I’ve been unable to identify.

We walked past a farm where the family have diversified into a hair salon what was previously a cowshed, good on them.

We passed more fishing lakes this time part of a recreational complex with holiday chalets. The original farm, Wood Fold, is grade II listed but has been submerged by ancillary housing.  I never realised how much-hidden developments there were in the area.  There was only a minor footpath diversion through this development.

Onwards, with grandson navigating, we followed my route of the other day through Crombleholme Fold and up the fields and into the woods to the honey spot of Beacon Fell.

All smiles.

We were probably the only people that had walked here, all be it only a  couple of miles. A trio of elderly cyclists arrived and clattered into the cafe, they had come through the hills from Lancaster. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches. On our way back we had time for an attempt at climbing the new snake from tail to head and then we were out of the woods and back at the car. There were some new wood carvings of leafy Green men, a pre-Christian symbol. Incidentally, there is a Green Man Pub in nearby Inglewwhite.

I hope that a few navigational skills have been absorbed.

The afternoon was spent pruning bushes in my garden and the more exciting shredding of those branches which provided lots of laughs. A competitive game of boules anticipated our imminent family trip to France.

Refreshed by Thursday morning our next jaunt was to Brock Bottoms just below Beacon Fell. We were one of the first cars parked up in the popular picnic spot.  It is years since I’ve been along this stretch of the River Brock. Memories of early forages with my own young children keep coming back. The river is low, we see no kingfishers or dippers which I was hoping for.

The highlight of this walk was going to be Brock Mill but alas time has taken its toll on the ruins of the mill. Where there had been substantial buildings there were only stones with little evidence of the mill race, waterwheel or the mill itself.

Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers.  The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!

It took some imagination to see the ruins of the cottages.

Slightly disappointed we retraced our steps. Having given my grandson a lecture on watermills I drove back via Chipping where there is a water wheel attached to a house, a former corn mill and then converted to a restaurant with the wheel turning.

I cut the lawn whilst he caught up on ‘social media’, he hates it when I call it ‘antisocial media’

The weather remained sunny and dry and the plan for the afternoon was some bouldering up on Longridge Fell. Again keeping it low key I bypassed the tough Craig Y Longridge and settled for Kemple End. We dropped into the secluded heather bowl that is the old quarry. We were out of the sun and spent a couple of hours trying some of the easier problems. He realised that outdoor climbing is so different to the climbing walls he has been visiting. At the end of the session, I’m not convinced I’ve converted him into a proper climber. I was so busy spotting him that I didn’t take any photos – next time.

I don’t know who was most tired by the time his father came to take him home. See you in France.

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

 Last night after a bouldering session at Craig y Longridge I drove up the fell and took in the familiar view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. In front of me were the Fairsnape, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack and Totridge Fells. How many times have I photographed this scene?  I’ve not been on the easterly of these for several years so there and then I decided on a full traverse of the range today. For every 100 visitors to Fairsnape there is probably only one on Totridge.

I can’t explain why I sat in bed with a couple of coffees delaying my departure. Sloth had taken control and it was with a great deal of difficulty that I finally emerged and started the walk at 11am. By then I realised a full traverse and return of 13 miles or so was impractical and I opted for a shorter 9miles from Saddle End, missing out Fairsnape. The heat of the last few days was diminished by a westerly breeze. Old tracks rise up from Saddle End farm and soon the open moor is reached. A steady metronomic pace is tapped out by my walking poles as I gain ground. There is not a soul in sight.

Saddle End Farm and fell.

On the 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and
walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were caught in a blizzard which resulted in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so police and locals searched with BAC loaning a helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy two Mountain Rescue teams were formed in the area, the forerunners of Bowland Pennine MRT.

I mention the above because it is thought the boys may have sheltered in a small stone hut. I remember early walks on Saddle Fell in the 70’s the hut being by the track I’m on today, its roof was almost intact. Now it is a pile of stones but with a tragic history which I recollect every time I pass.
Reaching the wild top of Saddle Fell ignoring the track to Fairsnape I turned east at the watershed to follow the fence towards Totridge seen a couple of miles away. This stretch of fell is usually one of the boggiest in the area, I’ve been pulled out of the depths on one occasion,  deciding which side of the fence is the least hazardous often means crossing repeatedly without any real advantage. Today however the peaty ground was bone dry and I could just enjoy the scenery without any risk of sinking, the wooden poles placed to give buoyancy in wet conditions totally unneeded. [By the way the best ‘path’ is on the left of the fence.]

The views are far stretching over the Bowland area and all the hills and valleys I’ve been walking recently are identifiable. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are in the hazy background. Difficult to capture on camera.

Up here in this bleak wilderness one plant brightened up the peat bogs – the yellow starry flowered Bog Asphodel.

All I had to do was follow the fence, there is one pond to navigate found and a short section above Whitmore where you leave the fence at a tangent and take off into the peat to regain a wall in a short distance before rising onto Totridge and a final open track to the trig point at 496m. The trig pillar is looking decidedly unstable as the peat below it erodes, it will topple before long.

From the top a small path, not marked on the map, heads NE to drop steeply off the fell towards Mellor Knoll. If the correct line is taken zigzags descend quite pleasantly, not so pleasant ascending.  Halfway down today I found a place to sit, eat my sandwiches and contemplate the views over the Dunsop and Hodder valleys. In the distance over Mellor Knoll was a glimpse of Stocks Reservoir I walked around last week and closer at hand, above the Hodder, the tree capped Birkett Fell again climbed recently.

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

I dropped down to the fell wall and joined the bridleway coming from Hareden which goes into woods of beech and chestnut where I met the first people of the day, three gents enjoying the area.

My way back was on a series of bridleways and paths linking remote farms in the limestone country below the fells. Higher Fence Wood, Dinkling Green and Lickhurst. From the latter the track went further back up into the fells than I remember and I speeded up a little as bad weather was coming in.

Lickhurst Farm.

I used to cycle these ways when my children were getting into mountain biking, I don’t remember these stepping stones by a ford below Burnslack.

I arrived back at the car just as the rain did, my dilatory start almost catching me out.

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