Tag Archives: Longridge

TIME IS PASSING BY.

It is probably a week since I last walked any of my regular local routes. The weather was perfect today so I even got going before lunchtime. In the strange days we are living in, time has become warped and I have almost arrived at the position of ignoring it. That’s not all that different from my usual lifestyle. I’ve been setting a bi-weekly quiz for some friends during the lockdown and one of them commented today that if it wasn’t for the regular Thursday and Sunday questions he wouldn’t know which day of the week it was.

Since I was last out the countryside has subtly changed. The lambs have grown fatter, the grass has grown longer and the flowers have moved into another cycle. Gone are the bluebells, sorrel and primroses and more colour is now evident in the hedgerows with stitchwort, buttercups, vetch,  ragged robin and blue speedwells.

Comfrey and Cow Parsley.

Ragged Robin.

Buttercup.

Stitchwort, chickweed.

 

Speedwell.

The hawthorn has flowered replacing the blackthorn and what is noticeable is the sweet aroma from it. Its blossoming marks the point at which spring turns into summer, and the old saying ‘Cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’ almost certainly refers to the opening of hawthorn flowers rather than the end of the month.

Hawthorn.

The small amounts of road I have to walk on are a nightmare with some of the worst driving I’ve witnessed for a while. I read that the police are out to catch speeding drivers this weekend at the worst hotspots.

With the weather being so good I joined several of my local field paths together and ended up doing about 6 miles without noticing the time. There is no end to lockdown, as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll probably write up the same walk next week and wonder where the time has gone. But nature marches on and there will be changes underfoot to remind me of the passing year, a year I’ve all but written off for getting away.

*****

VE DAY 75 CELEBRATIONS.

 

Lest we forget – I nearly did.

I decided to go out on my bike again today, partially to avoid people and secondly to explore further afield. Not that I don’t know ‘further afield’ in intimate detail. I pedalled off into the east and found myself coming into Chipping in the early afternoon. There was bunting everywhere and there seemed to be a street party underway, all well distanced. Only then did the realisation that it was the 75th anniversary of VE Day enter my all too isolated brain. I didn’t stop for an illicit drink but I wished everyone well as I cycled past. What a good turnout. Up at the church was a classic jeep and other period vehicles had been brought out to give some atmosphere. I felt a chump for not realising the day and forgetting the two minutes silence this morning at 11am.

I was huffing and puffing on some of the hills out of Chipping and I stopped at a gateway to take a photo down the valley. Along came a couple of cyclists, my friends Kevin and Shelagh. I last saw them just before the lockdown when I called at their house on a walk over the Chipping Fells. Today they were taking their exercise and hoping to buy some cheese at one of the local dairies. After pleasantries, they cycled off with S engaging electric mode. I continued more sedately enjoying the views and fresh air.

I arrived home within the hour pleased with my modest socially distanced circuit, my belated  VE Day observances and determined to go further tomorrow.

I’m praying the government doesn’t in the next few days unravel our attempts to slow the virus and protect our NHS.

 

*****

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 GARDEN SNAPSHOT.

I’m forever extolling the fortunate privilege of having a garden to relax in during this Covid-19 lockdown.  The last month has seen record sunshine and being outside without risk of encountering the virus has been a bonus, despite the extra work I’ve found for myself.

As the weather is changing I’ll probably be busy inside the house so here are a few pictures as I wander around the garden. In 2017  I posted a month by month view of my garden but as you can see April is one of the most colourful and promising months of the year. Award yourself a prize if you can correctly identify them all…

and I can’t resist a couple of good sunsets…

All that without leaving the house, I’m so lucky compared to many..

MY NECESSARILY LOCAL SPRINGTIME.

The pandemic rolls on. I have no intention of debating the government’s problems in this post  I’m just here to enjoy the local countryside.

I have well and truly isolated myself with basically no access to the outside world. I’ve not been into the village for shopping. I’ve a mask, from my toolbox in the garage, to wear if I have to, in order not to spread the virus without realising it.

But I have however started to venture out of an evening for some exercise finding there is virtually nobody about as they are probably having supper. Inglewhite Road, scene of the recent  ‘hedgerow massacre’,   leaves the village in an NW direction and in less than half a mile I’m able to leave it for paths and quieter lanes. I have a choice of routes all between 3 and 4 miles which fits in with the recommended local exercise.

I was surprised to hear that some people are going for walks of 8 to 10 miles and will obviously be out for much longer though they will probably not get close to any other people.  They are more likely to catch something in the local supermarket where I hear social distancing is not always respected. Anyhow, I’ll stick with my moderate exercise regime though the guidelines are becoming blurred.

None of my evening walks is worthy of individual description but all are pleasant enough through fields with the Bowland Fells tantalisingly in the background. The panorama takes in Beacon Fell, The Fairsnape group, Waddington Fell and back round to Longridge Fell. [This panorama was the idea behind my  Longridge Skyline Walk which I devised many years ago as a 60K route and have completed as a two-day expedition several times.]

Bowland Fells.

Longridge Fell.

The swallows and martins have returned, the hedges are alive with bird song, the lambs are doing what lambs do and there is a good show of spring flowers and blossoms. So my leisurely strolls are full of interest. Once off the road I never meet anyone but there is evidence of increased usage of the paths.

An amalgamation of recent walks…

I return home refreshed and ready to devise a menu from my boxes of fruit and vegetables. Tonight was cauliflower cheese. These little details seem to take on an increased significance in the otherwise mundane routine days of lockdown.

I reiterate my privilege of living on the edge of this lovely countryside, enjoying a garden in the sunshine and having none of the monetary or employment worries of some people. I’ve now completed 5 weeks of virtual isolation apart from these recent walks, even then I have no direct contact with other people. I don’t see any problem with continuing for the duration, however long that may be.

*****

My map shows the amalgamation of my local lockdown walks.

 

A BITTER TASTE IN MY MOUTH.

I’ve been avoiding human and potential coronaviral contact for four weeks now. I’m quite good at it. Jobs are getting done slowly [there will be plenty of time] and as my fruit and veg are being delivered there is no need to go to the shops. The weather has been warm enough to sit and relax in the garden.

But it was time to venture out on some short walks. There is a selection of paths to the north of where I live and by taking my ‘permitted exercise’ around six pm I meet virtually no one. More of those later.

It was on my way home this evening that I passed the site earmarked for six more houses on Inglewhite Road. I thought at one-time ribbon development into the countryside [there is no longer a green belt] was to be avoided but now anything goes under this government’s wretched housing policy, or rather lack of policy in our village.

This was the original view walking out of Longridge…

The field in question is behind the hedge and trees on the right.

What had been a field with hedgerows and trees the last time I was out [photo above] was now stripped bare.  They had already stripped back the topsoil a couple of days ago.  Now every vestige of hedging gone. Why do they have to do this? One would have thought that some mature hedging on the borders of the new properties would have been an asset. And as for cutting down mature trees!

The next three pictures are taken looking towards Longridge…

Start of the clearing – trees and hedges hanging on.

 

No trees or hedges.

Barren environment.

I haven’t had time yet to look up the relevant planning permission details but I suspect that some of this vandalism violates their stipulations. No doubt when the houses are finished a ‘hedge’ of that awful Laurel will be planted where the original hedge had been. Or perhaps a large wall will be built around the plot of exclusive houses, no affordable housing here, and a gate put across their entrance. I’m becoming irritated.

*****

I may have related this episode before but it is relevant…                                                                        Idly looking out of my bedroom window the other morning I was aware of a sudden flash across my vision as a Sparrow Hawk swooped into the hedge opposite. From that apparently empty hedge about 20 or more small birds, minus the one captured by the hawk, flew to safety in all directions. This evidence of so many birds using that stretch of hedge environment brings home the importance, as if you didn’t realise, of our traditional and varied roadside hedges.

You can understand why on a beautiful evening I’ve returned home with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Another spectacular sunset  – so I’m hoping I’ll feel better tomorrow.

 

CLIMBING THE WALLS.

A lot of people are ‘climbing the walls’  with all these Covid19 isolation rules. I feel particular sympathy for those families living in cramped accommodation with maybe no open space to relax in. Having a garden is a great advantage, I’m blessed with mine.

Following my successful backpacking trip at Easter, I thought it was time for a bit of climbing particularly as the weather has been so good the rock will be in excellent condition. I’m lucky in having Craig Y Longridge just up the road and normally go bouldering there most days when I’m fit. It is a unique venue with over 300ft of overhanging rock in the main up to about 15 – 20 ft high.  There are over a hundred problems and many more variations to play on until your strength gives out. As everywhere else, due to the coronavirus, climbing is banned for the foreseeable future.  Social distancing is difficult and any accident there would place even more burden on our emergency services.

Craig Y Longridge on a rather poor day but you get the idea of how steep it is.

Better weather – struggling climber. Oct 2018.

Not to be deterred I’ve some walls at home. The walls of my stone-built house offer edges which replicate the holds found on natural gritstone. Most of the walls now have plants and shrubs close or growing up them. However, the sidewall adjacent to my drive is free to explore after a little trimming of the honeysuckle on the corner.

So out comes the bouldering mat and I catch the morning sun. There are several variations up this bit of wall and one can make it as easy or hard as necessary. To be honest I’ve done so much gardening these last weeks that my dodgy shoulder is playing up so I have to go careful. Still, it is good fun and gives me some exercise every morning. Note the right foot on the window ledge is cheating.

The bouldering mat below me should ensure that I don’t twist an ankle or worse and end up in casualty, I’m not actually getting far off the ground as you can see. I do get some funny looks from passers-by.

 

After a few weeks I should have worked out lots of ways up this bit of wall and may have to start on the other side of the house but that would require some extensive ‘gardening’ to remove the shrubs.

So yet more simple diversions to help pass the days and keep fit at the same time bringing some normality into my life.

*****

PS. The news today is that Joe Brown the famous working-class Manchester climber has died, aged 89. He was a climbing legend and many of you will have heard of him.

Joe was a true pioneer of rock climbing particularly active in the 1950s and 1960s when he pushed standards. His ascents were as varied in style as they were in location and ranged from the gritstone outcrops of the Peak District, the mountains of Britain to 8000m peaks in the Himalaya. He achieved TV fame with live outside broadcasts and earned the nickname ‘the human fly‘.  The personality and talent he possessed only come along every few generations or so.