Today was one of those days; not a drop of wind, easy walking and hardly anybody about. I seemed in a trance as I wandered around a familiar easy circuit. Hands in pockets walking. I was alert to birdsong and the tinkling of the becks coming off Pendle Hill. No planes disturbed the sky. This is excellent Lancashire limestone country, and I was in no rush to pass through it, in fact I was happy to wander at will in search of new discoveries. Time stood still in this bygone landscape while the sun shone but slowly the day turned to grey.
This moody Eagle track was in my head all day, as my grandchildren would say ‘I was in the zone’
I had parked in Worston, which is much quieter than Downham, wandered up to the splendidly isolated Little Mearley Hall and then along the northern base of a generally misty Pendle linking a series of farms. The approach to Downham via the little beck was a delight, and I looked around the village even having enough time to go up to the top road to find the C18 milestone and further on the boundary stone hidden in the wall. [but I missed ‘The Great Stone of Downham’ also in this wall] A new path has been provided here to avoid the traffic. My way back was past Worsaw End farm made famous in Whistle Down The Wind starring Hayley Mills and Alan Bates. Prominent above is Worsaw Hill, one of the many Reef Knolls in the area. On a whim I decided to climb to its summit, never having done so before. I was rewarded with good views of the Ribble Valley towards Kemple End and a birds eye view of Downham. All was quiet back in Worston. I wonder how long it will be before we are in full lockdown?
Little Mearley Hall.
Clay House Farm.
A slow wander around Downham…
‘To Colne 9 Miles To Gisburn 4 Miles To Clitheroe 3 Miles’
Downham Hall home of the Asshetons.
Lower Hall and Church.
Heading back to Worston…
Reef knoll country.
‘Whistling down the wind’
The ‘summit’ with Pendle in the background.
A hazy Ribble Valley.
Worsaw Hill. 221 m
May I take this opportunity to wish any readers out there the best seasonal greetings.
As I lazed away this morning reading I came across a comment about Fox’s well on Pendle Hill.
George Fox was born in 1624 and was in his 20s by the time of the civil wars between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. This was also a time of questioning the established religious ideas. Fox was travelling the country preaching an alternative simpler Christian message. By the 1650s he was in Northern England and in 1652 according to his journal…
“As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high” “When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered” “As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before”
Hence, the name, Fox’s Well, in memory of his visit. He went on to found The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Many parts of the North became Quaker strongholds and because of his vision Pendle Hill became a special place for Quakers.
Well no time to lose. The sun was shining but it was already 11am, I’m slow to get going these days. The well is not marked on the OS maps but I had a grid reference SD 80494200, I must have walked past it on my last visit here. As I drove across I was planning a route in my head, park in Barley and walk the hill on its steep side, the Big End. Coming down the road that cuts across the east side of Pendle I was astonished to see a line of parked cars stretching for half a mile, negotiating past them wasn’t easy. Things were even worse in the village with the car park full to overflowing and lots of desperate drivers cruising about. So this is a Covid-19 day out for half of Lancashire. I curse myself – I shouldn’t have come to a honeypot on a Sunday.
Just as I’m thinking of going elsewhere I remember a safe and legal pull in on the road perfect for my little car. So Just after mid-day I’m walking back up the hill past all those badly parked cars. I then join the crowds along to Pendle House and then up the steep stepped path. Not really my idea of a day’s fell walking but I have an objective so it’s a matter of head down and grin and bear it.
As if by magic as soon as I cross the stile at the far end the masses disappear, they are on the way to the crowded Trig point which I can happily miss today. I pick up the track heading down the north side and before long I can hear running water. It becomes a gushing sound and there on the hillside is flowing water from a spring. Just above is the metal cover of the well and lo and behold when I lift it there is the goblet to fill with the clearest of water to quench my thirst. The best water in Lancashire it is said, I wouldn’t disagree.
Feeling pleased with myself I ponder my onward journey. I have no intention of joining the masses on the summit, so I pick up a traversing path going west. This takes me to a stone shelter on the edge of the northern escarpment where I’d planned a lunch stop. Perfect. As I’m finishing a youthful foursome from Liverpool arrive. I share the seating with them and enjoy their banter. Onwards to the Scouting Cairn and then I decide to go over Spence Moor, Pendle’s little brother. I forgot to mention that the views are outstanding today in all directions. I have a birds eye view of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley. Over towards Longridge Fell and Bowland parapenters are circling. The Three Peaks, Skipton and East Lanc’s hills, Winter Hill and the distant Welsh mountains complete the panorama.
I’m surprised to find a recently improved track heading my direction, probably coming from The Nick of Pendle. Reluctantly I soon have to leave it to maintain height to Spence Moor. There is nobody about and on the rough pathless ground I put up grouse, snipes and skylarks.
On the way across boggy ground I come across a sheep on its back – riggwelted. Riggwelter takes its name from Yorkshire dialect with Nordic roots; “rygg” meaning back, and “velte” meaning to overturn. A sheep is said to be rigged or ‘riggwelted’ when it has rolled onto its back and is unable to get back up without assistance. You can experience the same by drinking a few pints of Black Sheep Brewery’s Riggwelter beer. Anyhow, I came to the rescue of this girl although she didn’t seem very appreciative.
There are no markers to announce my arrival at the rounded summit of Spence Moor. A little further and I pick up a soggy path going east. Down to my right are the East Lancs towns of Nelson and Colne. While over to the left is a different view of Pendle, my steep ascent path is clearly seen on the right.
I decided, perhaps wrongly, to drop steeply down to the two Ogden reservoirs, it would have been better in retrospect to have carried on high towards Newchurch.
A tarmacked lane descended to Barley Green where there has been a tasteful conversion of old Nelson Waterboard 1930 buildings to living accommodation. And then I was back into Blackpool, err no, sorry – Barley. There were no-parking signs everywhere and I can only imagine the hassle that the locals have had during this strange pandemic when the world and his dog have to go walking. Normally this is a pleasant village to wander through.
JD and I had set off from the little village of Worston just off the A59. I’d just bought a new copy of the 1:25000 map of the Forest of Bowland, and it came with an upload version to my phone. Downloaded it to try today, I’m very sceptical of using electronic devices for navigation so brought along the paper map as a backup. We left the village down an alley to cross a bridge over Worston Brook. Following a path that seemed to be going in the wrong direction I whipped out my phone and located where we were, simple – turn left, and we were on our way across fields towards Little Mearley Hall with a little red dot taking us en route. Sheep were strolling in regimented lines across our path. To get to our clough we weren’t sure about going direct through their farmyard so took a more circuitous route. Once in the autumn woods all was good, gentle walking above the beck. The little stream in the clough was our guide for the next hour. I’d been here before, once in a hard winter when we climbed with crampons and ice axes up the frozen cascades, how often would that occur nowadays? Today we made hard work of the steep ascent alongside of the beck. We [I] staggered to the plateau. Pause for views over Clitheroe. Little did we suspect what was to come as we reached the path. A gale force wind was sweeping across the moor. Fortunately it was behind us, from the west, but conversation became impossible. Or were we just becoming unsociable? Blown along the path past the Scouting Cairn we sought shelter in a sheep like enclosure for a hot drink and snack. Having gathered some rubbish left by others we continued along the plateau to the wall where you cut back to the true summit and trig point. Things have changed, there is a metal kissing gate in the wall at the Big End and the path up to the summit has been consolidated, now more of a yellow brick road. People were out in force, half-term, and some of them ill-equipped for the conditions. We didn’t spend much time at the trig point, you could hardly stand up and my hands were rapidly becoming frozen.
Back at the wall we found that elusive track that takes you off the Big End in lovely sweeping curves and down towards Downham. We were glad to get out of the wind. Lanes link between farms below Pendle on this, its northern side. At one farm we were met by barking dogs, all very friendly, guess the name of the farm… Barkerfield.
And then we were back in Worston. We never met anybody on the north side of Pendle. I felt rather bruised and battered from the day, not as fit as I thought I was.
As an aside we came across some waymarks for a route we were unfamiliar with, their website gives all the information on an ambitious route through the best of Lancashire. http://www .lancashireway.com/