Tag Archives: Longridge

A QUIET SUNDAY.

Sunday  17th January.    7.5 miles.     Goosnargh.

   Bear with me, if anything interesting happens on one of these local walks from home I will let you know. Today was a grey day and I left Longridge at noon to wander some lanes and footpaths between here and Goosnargh.

  I met a lady who was incensed that a dog had scratched her piece of lawn on the roadside, it looked innocuous to me. I suspect she would not be a good neighbour. A cyclist passed me on Ashley Lane. I left the road at Stump Cross and walked through the egg factory of Field Foot Farm and then on through boggy fields towards the church in Goosnargh.

Another quiet lane with horse riders led on to Broadeth Lane and then Ford Lane. I dread to think what this would be like if it was up to the 6-foot level. New House Farm is possibly one of the oldest in the district. The Cottage restaurant is a throw back to the 50s, prawn cocktails, chicken in a basket and sherry trifle. I diverted to have a look at Hill Chapel, another RC established from the C18th and run for many years by Franciscan and then Benedictine monks. There is some history at – http://www.stfrancisgoosnargh.org.uk/  Walking around the graveyard I came across the recent grave of a friend of mine, a sad reminder of his vivid personality.

Next I walked through the grounds of the  fishing lakes owned by Horns Dam. The dam was originally the water source for Goosnargh Cotton Mill which I had passed earlier in the day. I knew the next stretch through fields that have been divided up with electric fences for the nearby  horse stables would annoy me. And it did. I have complained to the authorities about the loss of public rights of way in this location but nothing seems to have been done.

I was home for an early tea.

Eggs galore.

The church at Goosnargh.

Garden ornaments.

 

1733

Afternoon tea?

Hill Chapel.

Public right of way.

AN ICY ELMRIDGE.

Friday 15th January.     6.75 miles.    Longridge.

 At the risk of becoming repetitive…

Again I set off from home on familiar paths to Gill Bridge where I skated up the icy road before I took the path along Elmridge. Elmridge is a small eminence in the Vale of Chipping between the Bleasdale Fells and Longridge Fell, its position giving  it good views of the area. These views are better on the road across the top rather than on my footpath along the southern side, but I’d not walked this way for several years. A friend has moved into a little house along here, so I was able to have a few words in passing. The family have adopted lots of stray kittens and have some fine fowl. The next farm along, again owned by a friend who has recently died is surrounded by woodlands that he planted over the years, a fitting memorial.

It wasn’t the clearest of days but Longridge Fell was always there.

In Hesketh Lane I passed the site of an old mill now strangely used as a depot for a local coach firm. The mill stream is clearly visible and a notice tells of recently installed fish ladders to allow fish and eels access higher up the stream. The Dog and Partridge is sadly closed, like several other old inns of the area. Notice the cheese press stone, a common sight in this area of Lancashire. I took the curiously named Judd Holmes Lane through frozen fields leading me back to the Knott Farm where I was the other day.. This time I made the detour to visit the little church at Lee House.  Be sure to have a look at – https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Chipping/stwilliam/index.html for some interesting history.

I then joined the crowds walking along the pavements to Longridge. We should all be a lot fitter after this pandemic is over.

                                                                                     Bleasdale Fells.

*****

THORNLEY-WITH-WHEATLEY.

                                                                                       Thornley School.

Tuesday. 12th January.    7.5miles.     Longridge

The main road from Longridge to Chipping, which is busier than ever, passes through the small parish of Thornley with Wheatley which you won’t have heard of. It is not a village but merely a scattering of houses and farms. Today’s walk came this way. I’m resigned to those local footpaths that I walked to death in last Spring’s lockdown, but I’m looking for variations. Yesterday it rained continuously, and I didn’t get out of my dressing gown such is the tedium of Covid-19 lockdown that brings inertia on me one or two days a week. But today the sun shone and I had roughly plotted this route the night before which gives a degree of impetus to get up and go.

I leave Longridge along a rather boggy Clay Lane, the snow has gone and the frost is dispersing. Back in the last century there were tile works hereabouts. I was soon across the fields to Gill Bridge over the infant River Loud, today running fast with melt water. I traversed the estate of Blackmoss owned by the Lord Derby family since the C18th. The Derby Arms in is just up the road as is Thornley Hall. Vague paths which I know well crossed over to The Knott farm which is lying empty since the farmer died last year. He was seeped in the land and always seen in his tweed jacket and wellington’s, you could always tell if he was in the local supermarket by a distinct manure odour. He would turn up at my house occasionally with either a tray of 36 eggs or a basket of field mushrooms if they were in season. His sort will be sadly missed.

The empty Knott Farm

I recrossed the Loud and took the little lanes past Wheatley Farm house, 1774, at the base of Longridge Fell. Down the road is Lee House RC church and the old Thornley School which I didn’t visit and wished I had.

Lane to Wheatley.

Wheatley Farm.

Eventually I had to commit to the climb past Dale House and into the woods before coming out onto the golf course above. I was then back on that road leading back to Longridge which I’ve used regularly the last few weeks.

Dale House farm.

Parlick and Fairsnape from the golf course.

Old gate post to Longridge Golf Course established with Preston Cycling Club.

A short diversion was taken to see if I could get a photo of that highland cow with its calf. I managed a better picture of the mother but the infant kept its backside to me. A friend was climbing at Craig y Longridge our local bouldering venue and others were out running up the fell, everyone taking advantage of the sunny weather. An extract from The Lancashire Village Book gives more history here  – http://www.visitoruk.com/Blackburn/thornley-with-wheatley-C592-V28146.html

*****

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

THE RIVER RIBBLE AT ALSTON.

Friday 8th January.     8.5 miles.      Alston.

I last did this walk in November 2018,a day in late Autumn.  There is probably not a lot more to say about it, but here goes.

In a chance comment a couple of days ago on walking locally I mentioned that I was missing having water close by. No sooner said, than I had the map out to find a circular from home incorporating a stretch along the River Ribble. It is still freezing hard but the overnight snow never appeared.

I strolled along slippery lanes and farm tracks to reach open country.  The fields were badly rutted from bovine hooves, one second frozen the next and my foot was deep in mud. At least the beasts were in their winter quarters, I’ve had a few scary moments with excitable charging cows this year. The footpath steepened into a little valley and then onto a lane at the bottom. I met a few dog walkers I knew but otherwise I didn’t see anybody for most of the day.

The walk changes character here as it comes alongside the River Ribble to follow it full circle around the flat peninsular flood plain. There were a few ducks and I saw a cormorant take off and fly overhead but otherwise all was silent. Even the river flowed quietly and slowly by, looking black and ominous. I reached the shallow weir, possibly an old ford, where the water quickened its pace and danced along out of sight. This is where my waterside walk ended, and I took to the roads for the way back to Longridge.

The day had been rather grey and overcast with no distant views, but I thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery.

*****

IN SEARCH OF GRIMSARGH WETLANDS.

Sunday 3rd January. 2021.        8 miles.        Grimsargh.

Last year I had a chance meeting with an old acquaintance from many years ago. He has always been a  keen amateur naturalist. I have on a wall in my study a collection of Mountain Butterflies he gave me 40 years ago, when it was still acceptable to stick pins through insects. When I met him last he told me about work he had been doing on some redundant reservoirs in neighbouring Grimsargh. They were being converted into nature wetlands, and he encouraged me to visit. So that was my plan today. I was halfway out of Longridge when I realised, too late, I’d forgotten my pocket binoculars!

There used to be a railway from Longridge to Preston calling at Grimsargh. It served the stone quarries in Longridge from1840 but also provided a passenger service [closed 1930] and a goods service for the cotton mills until 1967. I should write a post one day on what remains of the line in the area.  From Stone Bridge I followed close to the line of the railway down into the Shay Lane Industrial Estate, a fine way to start a country walk. There is a surprising variety of businesses along here hidden away from the rest of the village. Cheeses, timbers, metal shelving, builders’ merchant, fruit and veg supplier, JCB, as well as many smaller units.

There’s more than one way to decorate a tree.

At the end is Shay Lane Farm, always neat and tidy. From there I took to the fields alongside Savick Brook, they were sufficiently frozen to avoid wet feet. The contrast from Industrial to rural was sudden.

I came into Grimsargh at Dixon’s Farm where a branch railway line heading to Whittingham Hospital could be clearly identified. In 1889, a private branch line was opened northwards from Grimsargh to Whittingham Asylum two miles  away. As well as supplies, hospital staff and visitors were carried free of charge in converted goods brake vans. The line continued in use until 1957 connecting with bus services after the main line was closed to passengers.

The Whittingham  Hospital branch line.

J D 1736

The map below shows the railway lines as well as the Reservoirs.

1930map.                                                                                                                                    National Library of Scotland.

 

While I was at Grimsargh Green I visited the large garden of a friend to wish her a distant Happy New Year, strange times. I then took a footpath following the line of the railway towards the reservoirs, but they were securely surrounded by metal fencing and I ended up going a long way round to gain the path through them.

Line to Longridge.

There was no public access to the wetlands themselves and of course today there was no wet – just ice. The smallest reservoir has been developed as a reed bed. I now realise there is a viewing point over the two lakes from a different access point, next time. Not a bird insight except for a curious robin.

I was soon out onto the main road and Elston Lane. My footpath onwards was blocked by new development with a closure notice lasting until Feb 2021, but it looks as though this situation will continue for much longer, I hope the locals insist on the footpath being reinstated once the building work is completed.

Looking at the map I found other paths to circumvent the problem and was soon walking back to Alston and fields over to Longridge.

Next year?

I need to return to spend more time at the wetlands if we are allowed out. I’m hoping Boris will swiftly follow the sensible proactive steps of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies to keep on top of this Covid-19 crisis, and we must all do our part and act responsibly.

*****

THE FIRST STEP.

千里之行,始於足下

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”    so the Chinese saying of LaoTzu goes, seems fitting for a New Year’s Day.

A chance reading of a fellow  blogger last night about her 1000-mile challenge from last year had me totting up my own rough mileage for the year – it was just over 700. Given that it was a strange year, staying local and not completing my usual half dozen long distance walks, that wasn’t too bad a total. So I decided and have now proclaimed to you my desire to cover the thousand this year. No fancy app counting steps around the house or going to the shops, just ‘proper’ walks that I would normally write up in my diary. I may get distracted into cycling or if the weather is good into bouldering and climbing which could limit my progress.

This afternoon, January 1st, I did five miles from home – a good start. We are in Covid-19 Tier 4 lockdown at present, so I won’t be travelling far by car for some time, but I can reach the countryside easily from my doorstep.

I’ll share some of my walks here until I become bored with the same old ones around Longridge, I’ll need to be creative to cover the mileage with interest rather than just for the exercise.

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow.  I’m now  able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.

Thornley Horse Trough.

Wheatley Farm. 1774.

People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.

Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.

*****

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.

Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.

In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….

… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases  nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/

There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.

That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed  metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.

I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.

*****

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****

 

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ROMANS, AND OTHER CURIOSITIES.

Monday 23rd November.   5 miles.  Longridge.

There have been debates on the route of the Roman road from Ribchester to Lancaster and where it crosses Longridge Fell.  LIDAR technology has been used to reveal archaeological features. Using Lidar, experts now think it went on a slant past Longridge to Inglewhite and on to Catterall before heading due north.  http://www.romanroads.org/gazetteer/rib-catt.htm

You learn something new every day.

I wanted to have a look at the section coming up to Longridge, Mike was happy to join me on this simple exploration which should give us a ‘good’ short walk.

We started off at the top of Longridge above the reservoirs, walked through one of the old stone quarries and down a lane, which would have rattled with clogs in the C19th, The new housing estate on the right has probably been built on the line of the Roman road. Along here next to the reservoirs is The Corporation Arms, said to be the only pub owned by a council waterboard. Fortunately there is a pavement alongside the busy road until we could turn off and head towards a farm called Stonelands, probably parallel with the Roman Road. In a field is the Roman milestone pinpointed by  the grid ref. SD 62307/37134   [red dot on my map below spot height 111].  Its setting is not ideal next to a children’s play structure and alongside more modern carved stone gateposts. These have an inscription of PG 07, query sculptor and date?

The milestone itself is thought to have been inverted at some time, the squarish top would be more normal as a base. Apparently there was an inscription dedicated to Emperor Maximian c. 300 AD, but we could make nothing out. PS. I have just found in an online journal, Britannia,  a picture of the milestone before it was ‘replanted’, it had been found used as a gate post.

Our onward public footpath follows the line of the Roman road as far as Pinfold and in the next field the line of the agger was clearly seen although  it doesn’t show up well in my photos looking towards Ribchester. The field between The Corporation Arms and Stonelands is supposed to also show the agger well but I couldn’t make it out, though it does seem to show up on satellite images.

The agger was the raised ground dug as a base for the road, usually ‘scoop’ ditches are then apparent on either side. It is these changes in ground level that are picked up by the LIDAR surveys. On we marched.

Our next objective was Buckley Hall, Mike had worked on the adjacent farm buildings 39 years ago creating an upmarket dwelling. The hall itself is C17th but has been rebuilt over the years. The date stone originally stated 1662, belonging to the Shireburn family.

Buckley Hall Farm.

Buckley Hall.

Our next objective was Dilworth Bottoms which we used to visit regularly when friends lived there. This area is delightful Lancashire countryside with undulating fields and deep gills, the site of many mills in the past. Our proposed way seemed to be blocked at a pair of footbridges, we didn’t descend to investigate but followed another path to the immaculate Cage Mill. Following Cowley Brook we came into Dilworth Bottoms. There is a cluster of houses down here linked by fords across the stream. At one time there were several mills, cotton and bobbin, associated weaving cottages and a Smithy, all dependent on the running water. The mills have gone but the other properties have been renovated for modern living. The next stretch of path was a disaster, it looked bad going down over a ditch and then climbing what turned out to be the skipping out pile from stables above. I’ve marked it on my map with a red cross, skull and crossbones would have been better. Nobody had been this way for  years but fortunately the owner we met at the top was of good humour and showed us a way out of his property passing a green looking outside pool. There were horses and ponies everywhere. All a bit surreal. I hardly have the enthusiasm to report this Public Right Of Way obstruction to the authorities but perhaps I should.

On we marched.

Up the lane was another blast from the past. I’ve written about the Written Stone several times before. https://cryofthesedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-written-stone-of-dilworth/

The bridleway brought us back up into the village by the caravan park and our last encounter of the day. A man was reconstructing a stone wall damaged by moles undermining it. We got talking about all things local until he launched into sermon of the Methodist Faith  with some dodgy references to race and sexuality.  On we marched.

Preston in the distance.

*****

WEATHER WINDOW ON A LONGRIDGE MISCELLANEA.

Sunday November 1st.  6.5miles.   Longridge.

Hurricane Zeta is chasing Storm Aiden across the British Isles this weekend. I get out this morning for a couple of hour’s exercise between the two.

My last post predicted or prayed for another lockdown, well Boris appeared on TV last night and announced one. I’m not getting into a debate about the why’s, when’s and how’s of our country’s attempt to deal with the virus. There will be plenty of time for that.

No, my walk today is probably going to be a regular one as we are told to stay home – but get exercise, no mention of distance travelled from home for said exercise, another fuzzy rule. So I walk from my doorstep. The diggers are having a Sunday rest on the latest building site coming to Longridge. Down past more new housing, then the cricket pitch and I’m in the countryside. Unusually ‘Mile Lane’ is empty of pedestrians, last lockdown it was busy most of the days with the good folk of Longridge taking their daily perambulation.

A delightful little lane along the track of the old quarry railway leads through bushes to the park. I have a painting of it on a sunny day by a local artist hanging upstairs.

The park is a magnet for dog walkers. There seems to have been an increase in canine ownership during the pandemic, unless I’m imagining it.

From Higher Road a track goes around the back of the old Quarryman’s Arms……and then through the quarries and down past the reservoirs, more new housing to the right, onto Lower Lane. Along here I spend time chatting, at a distance, to friends I haven’t seen for a while. I walk past one of my former homes, can’t believe it was so large. For the record…

Down by the church, a rather flooded Happy Alley, and round more reservoirs I come to Pinfold Lane. A pinfold was an enclosure for cattle or sheep that had strayed. The animals would be restrained in the pinfold until the owner redeemed them – normally by paying a small fine. Pinfolds were found in towns and villages from, at least, the Middle Ages onwards. I don’t know the site of this pinfold but it may have been at the end of the lane, here there is a benchmark and a substantial ancient cross base.

I stopped to put on my waterproofs as the first drops of rain were felt, but I was home before it became heavy. There was no temptation to save thousands buying a new house.

So in the coming lockdown weeks this little excursion, or variations on it, will probably be my go-to walk. Is ‘go-to’ an American expression? I don’t really like it and should have changed it to ‘regular’. I will no doubt come across other interesting Longridge titbits as time goes on.

*****

DEJA VU – LONGRIDGE IN LOCKDOWN?

Friday October 30th.  5.5 miles.  Longridge.

I’m stood at the entrance to Sainsbury’s giving my hands a good sanitising wash and wiping down the handles of my basket. Probably a half dozen other shoppers pass me going straight into the isles without even the most rudimentary hand sanitisation. The scientists say we have to go into stricter measures to combat the virus. The politicians vacillate. The public obviously can’t be bothered. Go back six months to April and I had stopped coming out to shop, home deliveries were the thing. People stepped aside to let you pass on the pavement. We clapped the NHS on a Thursday. What’s changed? The virus hasn’t, the scientific advice hasn’t – ‘way past the worst scenario’. Unfortunately the politicians have stopped daily updates, too much bad news – 274 deaths today. So the public have stopped listening.

I’m not sure I will be coming out to Sainsbury’s again, could it be classified as a superspreader?

*****

This afternoon as the sun came out I felt emboldened with my new boots to walk some sodden field paths around Longridge.  I used these in the height of lockdown for relatively safe exercise as one didn’t meet anyone. Time to resort to them once more as the local virus count escalates. We have been in the third tier restrictions for a while.

Back in Spring, remember that lovely weather when we were all frightened, these paths were well-used by locals getting their daily exercise. Today I feel I’m the only one.

I splodge on through the wet fields. I’m out in the open and free and get my fill of views to all the surrounding hills.

Longridge Fell.

Parlick and Fairsnape Fells.

One of the local pheasant/partridge shoots are relaxing at the inn, Ferraris Country House. Ironically another, The Dog and Partridge,  has closed under the stringent economic circumstances. Incidentally today DEFRA and the government have been dragged into some sort of legislation of Game Bird shooting. We do not know the effect of releasing millions of Pheasants and Partridges into local environments. And can you believe we are still allowing the use of lead shot?    https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2020/10/30/licensing-scheme-for-release-of-pheasants-red-legged-partridge-in-england-following-wild-justice-legal-challenge/

I calm down and cross the road into Little Town Dairy who have continued to keep their shop and café open during the present crisis. Notice the clever use of milky flowers on their sign. I meet up with the matriarch of the family business, and we talk about past times. Somehow I end up in her kitchen where all the family decisions are enacted.

By the time I get to Sainsbury’s the sun is setting.

Sorry but I won’t be calling in to my local pub. The country needs an efficient lockdown now.*****

LONGRIDGE SLATE POETRY – Dark clouds gathering?

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

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

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

The latest slates in no particular order…

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

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

RAPTOR ON THE LAWN.

Most days I see a Sparrow Hawk flying through my garden scattering the smaller birds and sometimes disappearing with a tit or sparrow. Yesterday as if on cue, it was Hen Harrier Day celebrating our raptors – https://www.henharrierday.uk/ I noticed out of the corner of my eye a pile of feathers on the lawn and a Sparrow Hawk devouring its prey. I hastily gathered my phone and took a few shots through the kitchen window and then it was away. The feathers, there was nothing else left, were possibly from one of the collared doves that frequent the garden.

Longridge is being built up with many green spaces, hedges and trees disappearing. This will have a marked effect upon the local wildlife. Within a couple of weeks, as well as the usual birdlife I’ve watched a hedgehog walking across the lawn and now a Sparrow Hawk. I wonder for how much longer will I witness these events?

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.

Red Campion.

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?

*****