Tag Archives: Longridge

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?

*****

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.

A JOBSWORTH.

This has made me smile today.                                                                                                              

The road near my house was trenched recently to put in a new water main. They finished the work before the Covid-19 crisis began and tarmacked over their work, it all looked very neat and tidy. There is very little traffic during the lockdown and I hadn’t noticed before that where their strip passed through a SLOW sign they had obviously been expected to make good with the lettering. This was the result…

They had only painted the lettering on their tarmacked strip with the obvious bizarre result.

I can imagine the worker in charge of the painting machine asking his supervisor how much to print and being told  “just our bit, it’s more than my jobsworth to touch the rest

The expression ‘jobsworth’ has come to mean someone who sticks to the rules of their job even when it would be more sensible to do otherwise.   ‘It’s more than my job’s worth’  suggesting I might lose my job if I did the other.

We are all familiar with this attitude in the workplace  –  the opposite ofJob’s a good’un’

 

GHOST TOWN.

 
Last evening I took my first walk, my permitted local exercise, for nearly a fortnight.  It was a warm sunny evening and I just strolled around Longridge to see what was happening.  Precisely nothing as there was hardly a car on the roads and I only passed maybe half a dozen people.
The rather boring photos below show empty streets but note the large proportion of stone houses for which the village was renowned before all the new developments which bear no connection architecturally to our heritage.
 
 
Not quite as bleak as the one depicted by The Specials which was in my ear as I walked around.
 
 

 

 

The road to Chipping.

Inglewhite Road.

Halfpenny Lane.

 

Whittingham Rd heading to Stonebridge roundabout.

Abandoned Housing Development.

Stone Bridge Roundabout, a local bottleneck.

Kestor Lane.

Market Place with Palace Cinema – will it survive?

Market Place with our local cobbler.

When will this Sale end?

Empty Pub – The Dog.

Higher Road going up onto the fell.

Berry Lane, the main shopping street.

Our local hardware shop.

Derby Road.

Abandoned road works.   

This won’t be my regular walk as it is all urban and crossing the road to avoid oncoming pedestrians is awkward. People of my generation are extra careful but I find a minority of youngsters pay little heed to distance, I personally am not convinced that 2 metres are sufficient. Social distancing isn’t working as one can see from the steadily rising coronavirus infection figures. The wearing of face masks by all early on would have cut down on transmission but the politicians couldn’t say that as there weren’t sufficient reserves. Next time I’ll head into the countryside or should I just stay safe in my garden, I’m privileged to have one and feel sympathy for all flat dwellers.

 
*****
 

FEEDING MYSELF IN ISOLATION.

I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered some fruit and vegetables to be delivered to me.

Disillusioned with the supermarkets home delivery services, or lack of, I phoned a local firm who normally distribute to the catering trade, pubs and restaurants. Obviously, their trade will have dried up unless they have hospital contracts. The lady on their phone was extremely helpful and explained they did a family box of vegetables and one of fruit delivered for £25. She suggested I try these first and then adjust my further orders to suit me. I set up an account there and then and paid by card, simple. She said to expect the delivery the next morning. Now that’s service.

[The firm, Ribble Farm Fare, is based in Longridge,  A family-run business specialising in fruit and vegetables. David Coulston founded the business in 1964, selling potatoes door-to-door. I remember when I came to Longridge in the early 70’s he was just becoming successful, he’d purchased a villa out in Lanzarote and named it Casa Potata.  His two sons run the firm now, with a substantial workforce, from a large warehouse in the village. Looking at their website I was amazed at the variety they provide, not only the raw products but an extensive range of prepared restaurant items. Obviously the latter are defunct at present.]

At 7am whilst I was making coffee the van arrived and the boxes were dropped off in my porch without any person to person contact. I was staggered when I saw the selection. She wasn’t exaggerating describing them as family boxes. It felt like Xmas and birthday all in one.

The fruits included 10 oranges, 10 apples, 10 pears, a large melon and bananas.

The veg box included generous portions of carrots, onions. large and small potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, swede, red pepper, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms and for good measure 2litres of milk and a loaf of bread.

All the products were of very good quality and obviously fresh. What great value delivered to my door. The other box in the picture is bird food which cost me more than my own supply.

I set to make a large quantity of vegetable soup. I will struggle to eat all the fruit, certainly will be getting my ‘five-a-day’. When this lot is eaten I will definitely place another order but will have to be more explicit on the volume. I hope that with people like me in the area we go some way to supporting our local businesses, they need all the help they can get.

I’ve previously mentioned I have a daily milk delivery and he will supply eggs as and when needed so I feel less stress about food.

On the subject of deliveries, I had a bit of debacle trying to get prescriptions from my local chemist, part of a national group, so in discussion with my doctor I arranged for another fairly local chemist to supply and deliver my outstanding items. I know everyone is under pressure at the moment but some go out of their way to be helpful.

Sorry about all these minutiae but I suppose we are all focusing on the problems ahead. My heart goes out to any families directly affected by the coronavirus and I express my gratitude to any of you out there on the front line.

On a lighter note, some of you thought I was becoming morose in my last posts so I enclose a link my son sent me to a funny comedian, Stephen Cookson, I’d never heard of before.

One line for Sir Hugh – I’m thinking of switching my energy supplier, from Red Bull to Lucozade.

All the best.

HOW NOT TO ISOLATE.

I don’t think I’m going to be very good at this. I don’t have a regular routine at the best of times – get up when I feel like it, eat at odd hours, read and listen to the radio through a lot of the night. Should I keep to my non-routine or change to the ones recommended everywhere at the moment?  The best I’ve seen was a video from an ex submarine captain who was used to months underwater in very confined conditions.  Worth a look…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-hampshire-52085862/coronavirus-submarine-captain-s-advice-on-social-isolation

It may work for you but a couple of weeks in and I haven’t changed so it looks likely that I’ll plod on as I am.

I wake at maybe 8 o’clock, come downstairs to make coffee and feed the cat. Now I have an extra job – bring in the milk from the doorstep and wash the bottles in soapy water. Don’t believe I’m writing this, what hope for people with OCD? My hands are already getting chapped with all this soapy water washing. I never thought when I started this humble blog site about rock climbing and walking that I would be posting a picture of milk bottles.

I take my coffee back to bed and have a look at what’s happening in the world and in my Emails on the computer. I get distracted by some climbing videos on youtube, you know how it is. One often links into another and another, better make another coffee.

Once up and about I go into the garden. I’m slowly working my way around the beds weeding and clearing up. I tend to do about 2-3 hours until my back has had enough, there are plenty of days left for more. I’ve a good selection of all the common weeds as well as some plants I introduced and wish I hadn’t. This is the first year for a while to have the time to do a thorough job and try and catch the weeds before they become established.

Common weeds…

Bittercress. Seeds early and everywhere.

Cleavers. Sticks to everything.

Dandelion. Deep tap root, worse in lawns.

…Herb Bennet, Nettle, Buttercup, Rosebay Willowherb, Chickweed, Ivy, Bramble  – the list goes on.

Plants I introduced by mistake…

Dog Violet. Tenacious little b…..

Cuckoo Pint. Bulblets and seeds proliferate out of control.

Welsh Poppy. Orange variety has a deep taproot.

Yellow Variegated Dead Nettle. I wish it was dead, suckers everywhere. I was a sucker to plant it.

And then there is my lawn in amongst the moss. Need to buy some lawn sand, I will have to look online.

Lawn in my moss.

I could write a whole post on weeds, I almost have. When is a weed a flower?  Catch them early before they flower. They’ll all be back tomorrow.

The cherry blossom I pictured in my last post a week ago is shedding petals like snow in today’s breeze, it’s such a shame they only last a short time, rather sad really.

The fields opposite my house are earmarked for development and in the last few weeks the bulldozers have been in and stripped the hedges and destroyed most of the trees. They had started on the drainage and access roads but now the site is closed down leaving the whole place in a mess. I used to see deer and hares in those fields and the hedges were full of birds, what now for wildlife? Anyhow, I’m straying off the subject but this has prompted me to build a few more bird nest boxes which are now in place around my garden.  The sound of bird song is very noticeable this spring as there is little traffic noise.

The day passes quickly and cooking my evening meal is something to look forward to. Normally I shop up in the village every day and buy what takes my fancy for that evening’s meal. That’s all changed of course and now I delve into my store cupboard for inspiration, tonight I used rice and lentils to make dal bhat. Dal bhat is a traditional popular meal from Nepal consisting of rice and spiced lentils.  It is a staple food in these countries so as I have a good supply of rice and lentils I should be able to see out many weeks of isolation. I learnt to cook it fairly authentically whilst travelling in Nepal and I still have some spices bought there which are difficult to get in the UK.

What I’ll miss most are fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve tried to book supermarket deliveries but all the slots are taken so I’ve turned to a local fruit and vegetable firm who normally supply to the catering trade. I’ve just phoned them and they couldn’t have been more helpful, I’ve a box being delivered tomorrow. Maybe picture then and give a plug if they are up to scratch.

The evening is passed with maybe an hour trying one of the cryptic crosswords from my bumper book of TheTimes Crosswords. Then tonight I’m going to watch some films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Every year they normally host an adventure film festival and the organisers have selected a series of films to view free every Wednesday throughout this isolation period. Very good of them, thank you, my own little film festival – I’d get out the popcorn if I had any! Fell asleep halfway through the last film – just like the real cinema.

  Times moved on quickly and I don’t have much to show for it. That just about sums up my day. So don’t take any advice from me regarding isolation strategies as I don’t really have any except…

“Take one day at a time”

SOCIAL DISTANCING TO SELF-ISOLATION. Reasons to be cheerful.

It’s a wonderful time of the year with some exceptional weather, the blossoms are appearing and we’ve just gone onto British Summertime which I always look upon as a turning point.

My cat manages to sleep from dawn to dusk finding warm sunshine throughout the day. I’m jealous.

Last week I was going out for short walks from home Social Distancing as I went. Then this week I developed a sore throat, fever and headaches;  I’m sure, or almost sure, that this isn’t the coronavirus but the rules say if you have symptoms then Self Isolation is necessary for 7 days.

That’s no great hardship as I’m pretty self-reliant but I think I misread the rules and thought I was not to leave my house at all  [that is Shielding – we all have to get accustomed to these new terms]  So I’ve stopped going out altogether which is probably wise in any case. Hence no walking in this post.

I’m fine for food and medicines and have been pleasantly surprised by the offers of help in that direction. Thanks to those concerned.

My telephone line has never been so busy as I catch up with friends near and far.

And there is the bonus of a new friend who is almost hand tame after a couple of days gardening. On a larger scale, the night skies have been clear with a bright crescent moon and an even brighter Venus.

Lots of positives there.

 

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark II.

I’m trying to exercise whilst social distancing and at the same time reduce driving to a minimum. Yesterday I was on roads all the way and didn’t really enjoy the experience, today I’ll attempt another walk direct from home but this time avoiding busy roads so I’ll need to get my boots dirty.

So off we go. It is another beautiful day, the Spring Equinox. I’m soon into fields, yes they are boggy but I’m enjoying the bird song. For the record, I see Deer, Hares, a Stoat and lots of lambs. The lambs photographed better than the rest.

 

All around me are hills – the Bowland Fells, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell.

I pass a deserted country inn, the catering trades are having a hard time. Such a shame as everything is looking so good in the spring sunshine.

Towards the end of my walk, I use an old track to cut a corner off the road but wish I hadn’t as it was virtually impassible with mud and branches.

On the last stretch of road, I spot this beast waiting for restoration.

So today was more acceptable than yesterday but I still ended up with some road walking and the fields were very unpleasant in places.

Body count today, one pedestrian and one runner, both on the roads. Nobody was out in the fields despite the perfect weather. I think it is going to have to be all off-road but on decent tracks until the ground dries or we are all grounded.

*****

SOCIAL DISTANCING WALK – Mark I.

If you don’t meet it you won’t catch it.

Engaging in a healthy diet [if you can buy it in the chaos of our supemarkets] and exercising regularly are both recommended to keep a high immunity and a positive mental approach during this worldwide crisis. There are scores of articles out there detailing methods for survival. In my last post I shared the British Mountaineering Club’s sensible advice which may well change in the coming days. Today dawned the perfect walking day, bright sunshine and clear crisp air. Time to put my boots on – but where to go?  I thought to keep it local and risk-free – don’t want to put a burden on Mountain Rescue teams or ambulances and casualty.

So a walk around the roads from my house seemed sensible. I peer out to check nobody else about, I am highly vulnerable you need to know. I set off at a brisk pace down the lane and immediately bump into a neighbour who wants to chat, it is embarrassing trying to keep 2metres away.

At last, I’m out of the village but I hate the main road I’m on with cars and lorries flashing past within 2 feet never mind 2 metres – have they not heard the government advice.

I didn’t reach a calm space until branching off up Back Lane and into Ashley Lane. Along here I caught up with another walker who crossed the road to avoid me, people have been doing that for years so I wasn’t surprised. Along this stretch birds were singing and some gathering nesting material, Buzzards were flying overhead, it felt great to be out in the open and worries disappeared.

At the road junction, the Bowland Fells appeared in the distance with Beacon Fell, Fairsnape, Parlick, Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and Longridge Fell all lined up in a splendid panorama.

As I walked into Longridge the dismal sight of traffic jams caused by new developments greeted me. Gloom descended once more.

I won’t use this route again because of the traffic on the roads. I will endeavour to come up with a better alternative for tomorrow’s Social Distancing walk.

Potential viral persons encountered   5.

*****

 

 

 

 

LONGRIDGE RESERVOIRS.

I’ve had enough of splodging through waterlogged fields so today for my short walk I was happy to keep mainly to tracks and roads. Why not walk around the reservoirs in Longridge? There are basically seven, Dilworth Upper and Lower, Spade Mill 1 and 2, and Alston 1, 2, 3.

Preston originally had water from springs in the Alston area and a reservoir was built in Grimsargh in 1835. The first Upper Dilworth reservoir was built about the same time for water from Longridge Fell. As demand increased water was collected from the Bowland Fells and conducted to Longridge and its Alston [now no3] reservoir completed in 1842. Demand from Preston increased and the next to be constructed was Spade Mill [no 1], along with The Black Bull inn, see later as Corporation Arms. Some years of drought, remember them? lead to the purchase of Alston College on the edge of the village. Demolition of the college allowed a second Alston Reservoir [no 2] to be constructed in 1899. A second smaller Dilworth [lower] was opened in 1906. In the 1930s the aqueducts from Bowland were improved with the drilling of two tunnels, one out at Whitewell and the other through Longridge Fell from Jenkinson’s Farm in Thornley to Spade Mill Reservoir. A third large Alston [now no 1] was constructed about the same time.   The last of the Longridge Reservoirs to be built was Spade Mill [no 2] coming into use in the late 1950s.

That’s a lot of water.

Dilworth Upper.    1835.     24 million gallons.

Alston No 3.           1842.     86 million gallons.

Spade Mill No 1.   1862.    198 million gallons.

Alston No 2.           1899.    183 million gallons.

Dilworth Lower.     1906.        7 million gallons.

Alston No 1.            1931.    259 million gallons.

Spade Mill No 2.     1956.    212 million gallons.

The reservoirs have been under several different authorities, Preston Corporation, North West Water and now United Utilities.

Right, back to my walk, I parked up in upper Longridge and set off around the small Dilworth Reservoirs. immediately the strong Victorian stone architecture was visible …

Just above is the upper reservoir which is often a haven for waterbirds, Great Crested Grebes nested last year.  The lower reservoir has been decommissioned and I was under the impression that the upper was polluted from nitrate wash-off from the fell. Despite this, it is a popular angling spot.

Upper Dilworth with Beacon Fell in the background.

A footpath goes from here through an old quarry, Greenbank, now a housing estate. At the lower side of the quarry is a lake once a fishing spot for local youths. Above the houses is the well-known climbing venue Craig Y Longridge. From up here, there are views across the two Spade Mill Reservoirs and on to Alston. The lane I take goes past the WrittenStone which I’ve previously detailed here.

Walking along the main road I was outside the walls of the Spade Mill no 1 as I arrived at The Corporation Arms, the only inn uniquely owned by a waterboard.

Just past here I detoured up a bridleway to get a better view of Spade Mill No 2 the most modern of the reservoirs. Next, I was walking down to the Alston Reservoirs, both officially off track. The lane continues below the reservoirs and what was No 3 but now is managed as a nature reserve. There are hides to view the water and margins. With my naked eye today I saw very little, it was cold and windy.

Apart from the conversion of No 3 to a wildlife site, the reservoirs have a very sterile environment. There is some restricted fishing but one wonders why they couldn’t be opened up for some watersports. An interesting walk of about 6 miles on a breezy but dry afternoon.

Next up is storm Dennis – the menace.

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.

*****

BEACON FELL FOR LUNCH!

I can see the tree-covered summit of Beacon Fell from home [photo above], only just as new houses spring up. Last night I thought it a good idea to walk from home up to Beacon Fell, have lunch in their excellent cafe and walk home again, The Grand Old Duke of York comes to mind.

This is a regular walk and I don’t need a map, which is fortuitous as I didn’t take one.  I rely on my phone for local mapping. This route to Beacon Fell is the one I use for the start of my Longridge Skyline Walk, LSW.  I faffed about this morning with various things, one of which was my camera’s lens cover which keeps getting stuck. WD 40 may not have been the best idea but I tried it and realised that it would take some time to clear itself. So I leave the camera at home and use my phone for pictures.  It was 11am when I left my house and bumped into a neighbour. He is used to my eccentricities and enquired where I was going  – “Beacon Fell for lunch”  “Oh!” was all he could say.

The fields were high in summer growth and at every stile I was faced with a barrier of nettles, brambles, Balsam and that sticky plant. I spent a lot of time bashing down the undergrowth. Shorts were not the best idea.  I was getting nowhere and becoming increasingly hot and sweaty.

Worse was to come when I reached what were previously open fields but now were transformed into parcels of equestrian land, paddocks I suppose, by electric fences. Large fields with footpaths and open access were now a no-go zone.  I was fuming at the lack of thought for us humble walkers. This was more like an obstacle course than a rural wander. After limbo dancing under some live electric fences, I started to become rebellious detaching the wire where I could, they were live! Knowing I was on a Right of Way  I ploughed through, Sir Hugh will understand. The last obstacle to a bridge was dealt with and I was on someone else’s land. On a serious note, I will be reporting this blatant obstruction of footpaths to Lancs County Council once the dust has settled using their excellent MARIO web site.

By the time I reached the fishing lakes at Horns Reservoir I was well behind schedule. I thought of curtailing the day, but no my obstinacy carried me forward. Exiting the field by the narrow Right of Way was impossible but I knew a way around. Later exchanging pleasantries with the landowner I couldn’t come to say “why don’t you clear the footpath?”  Writing this now I feel I should ride out there tomorrow and ask him.

Things improved and I made good progress through well-known fields. Lovely green grass hid a hare which set off at speed when I approached.  I was impressed at a stile where not only was the correct signage clear but there was also a small map showing the Rights of Way in the surrounding area. Brilliant. I can never understand why some farmers make it difficult to cross their land – why not sign the way and be done with us.

So much more helpful than ….A barn at Whinneyclough had some unusual, obviously historic, features and I was caught trying to get some close-up photos. Note the finials on the roof, the covered mullioned window and the dated door. The owner seemed insensible to my curiosity. The nearby farmhouse is also of architectural interest but was out of bounds.

On through the golf course where the trees have matured in the years I’ve been coming here. Nobody seemed to be playing at the moment. There were signs indicating ‘footgolf’ –  whatever next.

The diversion around Fir Trees Farm seems less irritating as the years go by. I still have no faith in the Planning  Authorities who allow it. The brick fronted farmhouse is Grade II listed.

Well trodden paths through Higher Barker and the burgeoning complex at the former  Cross Keys Inn.  When I first moved to this area this was a favourite place to drink, pre breathalysers, with the beer being served in the farm parlour. The way onwards is always boggy, you will be cursing me if following this route. But now Beacon Fell is there above. A couple of awkward fields and then a long traverse of green pasture brings me out on the road at Crombleholme where there is an impressive C17th house, today splendid with its colourful garden.

Up to the fields and into the woods and suddenly I’m in the main carpark of Beacon Fell. There are people everywhere enjoying the summer sunshine. I present myself at the cafe counter sweaty and dishevelled, probably the only person to arrive here under his own steam. The tea and sandwiches are perfect as I sit at one of the outside tables and watch humanity. Curiously I didn’t take any photos, battery running low but this what it was like.

Aa I didn’t visit the summit, it was all downhill to home. Away from the crowds the paths are eerily quiet. Concessionary paths have been established down to Carwags where a quiet road takes you onwards. Views open to Parlick behind and to Pendle and Longridge Fell ahead. by now my phone was running out of juice hence few photos and no map to follow. An even more rural lane with grass down the middle comes out at Loud Higher Bridge.

I follow the infant River Loud through fields some of which may be trespassing, no map remember, but I eventually come out at a deserted Loudscales Farm. I  know the way home from here. up the lane to the road and down to a junction of paths. Take the middle one up to Withinreap Farm, pass the ‘figure of eight’ ponds and arrive at Lancaster Farm where fields lead to Higher House Farm. From here there are more views to Beacon Fell, the Bowland Fells.

The football match down the road is notable for its spectators’ foul language drifting across the town. Welcome home. It is five o’clock when I turn down my road with a knowing nod to that neighbour.

*****

 

 

 

 

AIN’T NO SUNSHINE.

Ain’t no sunshine today but I still manage a short walk in the rain.

I suppose I’ve become a fairweather walker. I choose my days when I know [hope] the weather is good. like last week. I can afford to be selective. That wasn’t always the case. Many wet weekend climbing trips were spent in a steamy cafe [Llanberis, Ambleside, Hathersage]  with tea and toast to while away the hours before driving home. Long-distance walks would always throw up a few wet days although I was considered lucky in my choice of a holiday week.

There will be people out walking trails this week, the holiday season is upon us, who have enjoyed the dry hot conditions and now have to continue on the wet days. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. My thoughts are with them – it is all character building, that’s what I tell my Grandchildren. We’ve all endured a day of soaking weather and yet remember the experience, if not fondly, but with some pride in having survived and enjoyed a pint in the pub that night.

Back to today. The skies are grey and it is raining but I tell myself that I must get some exercise and avoid a depressing day as Bill Withers’ song suggests. A poignant song as always but particularly so at present.

I choose my usual ‘fall back on’ stroll around lanes and through the village. The cricket pitch looks dismal and the encroaching housing estate doesn’t help. No match today. Lord’s Lane leads up into the mist and there is no sign of any fell tops. Along the old railway track into John Smith’s Park is dank and dark –  unlike a painting by talented local artist, Emma Lord, I bought last week at Create Longridge Day,  This painting was on a day of light shining through the branches onto the same path I’m walking today.

I’m home, not unduly wet and semi-satisfied I’d made the effort.

As an aside, though it may be connected, one night last week in the hot sweltering weather I was awakened by a bat flying around my bedroom!  It must have entered through my open skylight and now was lost. Concerned for its welfare I opened all my other windows but it persisted in its circular orbits. When it eventually landed I was able to scoop it up in a carton and free it outside. I presume it was a Pipistrel but I’m not sure, it’s not easy to photograph a flying bat with your phone in the middle of the night.  An unusual encounter that lifts one’s spirits.  It’s been a wet Sunday.

 

*****