Tag Archives: Ribble Valley

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 4 – A sunny Longridge Fell.

Longridge Fell from the south, Kemple End is the steep bit at the right.

Higher Hodder Bridge to Longridge.

JD and I are sat in the bus station at Clitheroe waiting for the Skipton bus to arrive with the pieman on board. The alloted time passes and we wonder if we are in the right place, we circle the area in our car but no sign of him or the bus. The phone call elicits that the bus broke down! We look at each other and as the day is dismal and I lack enthusiasm we drive home  for other pastimes,  ie gardening.

Fast forward 24 hours and we are sat in Clitheroe bus station once again. I must admit the weather was far better today so we hoped the pieman would arrive. He did and within 10 minutes we are parked up at Higher Hodder Bridge at the base of Kemple End, the east end of Longridge Fell. After a stretch by the Hodder we start a fairly easy zigzag ascent of the fell. Behind us were views across the Ribble Valley to Pendle and Waddington Fell. We emerged at the road and stripped down to shirts for the rest of the 1000ft ascent in increasing temperatures.

Higher Hodder Bridge.

Climbing Kemple End, Pendle in the background.

Layers coming off.

A mixture of tracks and paths through the forest where there has been a lot of clearances of late, a magic route opened up in front of us. The lighting seemed to transport us to some alpine approach but there were no snowy peaks above. Familiar tracks head up the fell though in some places wind damaged trees create diversions. We came out of the trees at a well known viewpoint overlooking Bowland, the Three Yorkshire Peaks were in haze.

Magic light amongst the trees.

There is a way through.

More uprooted trees.

That viewpoint.

Our guest from Yorkshire is impressed by the scenery and we eventually arrive at Spire Hill the summit of Longridge Fell at 350m. At the trig point is a man talking on short wave radio as part of the Summits on the Air scheme.  He was mainly concerned with radioing his position although he requested a summit photo. Listening in to his pointless conversation with some unknown person made me think why we climb summits. We were sweating from our exertion, ready for lunch, breathing in the air and enjoying the situation and views particulrly of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. It takes all sorts.

Radio ham.

Well deserved lunch with a little Brexit chat.

We had been climbing steadily all morning but from now it was gently downhill. The view over the Fylde was rather hazy but the sunshine became warmer as the day wore on. There was some unavoidable road walking past the golf club. This now popular venue had humble beginnings as a 9 hole course which was amalgamated with Preston Cycling Club at the beginning of the 20th century. They built an early clubhouse shared with the golfers and as time passed the golf developed and the cyclists moved elsewhere but the badge still remembers the joint beginnings.

Heading down with Parlick and Fairsnape in the distance.

When it all started.

Present day signage.

We took to fields again and entered Longridge via the old railway line used by the stone quarries. We had spent the whole time walking Longridge Fell, about 7miles as the crow flies, hence its name. Cutting through the streets we completed our house to house route from Skipton. Well that’s another of my straight lines accomplished and very enjoyable it has been; beautiful varied scenery, interesting history and good companionship with enough exercise on each occasion to fill a winter’s day. But now Spring is upon us thoughts drift to wider horizons.

*****

THE TOLKIEN TRAIL.

I was weary from my day’s exertions with Sir Hugh on our SD 38 walk which involved quite a bit of travelling time today so I asked JD to sort something out for the morrow whilst I soaked in the bath.

He had researched in a book ‘Birdwatching Walks In Bowland’ by David Hindle…

… and came up with The Tolkien Trail.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien regularly stayed at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley whilst his son was studying there. It is thought, perhaps optimistically, that he derived inspiration for his Lord of the Rings trilogy from the surrounding scenery. So JD had conjured up a historical and ornithological walk for this lovely sunny day, if I’d thought I would have brought my binoculars.  There is plenty of information for The Tolkien Trail on the VisitLancashire web site.

We started in Hurst Green and were surprised at the amount of housing development creeping into the green fields. A well used path into Stonyhurst College sports grounds, but there is a new sport, clay pigeon shooting, and warning signs have been erected as well as a probably ineffective ‘alarm bell’.

I had recently been reading of the original observatory at the college built in 1838 and succeeded by the modern one in 1866. So as we approached the school buildings I was keen to identify them both, old and new.

We walked out past the gardener’s cottage and then the houses of Woodfields were masters live. Pleasant fields take you into Over Hacking Woods and a staircase down to meet the Hodder. We hadn’t seen many birds up to this point, apart from Robins singing full throat, but the woods had a truly Tolkien atmosphere.

Below us were the original ruined changing rooms for the college’s swimming lessons in the river, I think they have an indoor pool nowadays. I mentioned these in a recent post when we passed this way. Up the slope is Hodder Court previously a preparatory school, but now private dwellings with a statue of Gandalf in one of the gardens. shame the trail leaflet doesn’t mention it. See the above post for pictures.

An Australian couple were following us with their friendly dog and it couldn’t wait to get immersed in the river. We saw a few ducks along this wonderful stretch of the Hodder.

This was the third time I’d arrived at Lower Hodder Bridge in a week so didn’t intend to show more views of ‘Cromwell’s Bridge’ however when we joined The Ribble Way and rose above the river there was a good view back down to the two bridges.

We knew about the heronry in the tall trees next to Winkley Hall Farm and sure enough we saw Herons flying in to their nests. Whilst watching them I spotted a small bird flitting through the hedge, a rare sight of a Gold Crest.

Where the Hodder meets the Ribble we found a fisherman’s hut with a bench, a perfect spot for lunch and watching the rivers run by.

Along the next stretch is the site of Hacking Ferry used until 1955, the last boat is in Clitheroe Castle Museum apparently. Across the river is the 17th century Hacking Hall near where the Calder enters the Ribble.

An Egret was spotted on the far bank, a couple of Canada Geese also but no Kingfishers or Dippers.

Before long we left the river and headed back to Hurst Green coming through the car park of the Shireburn Arms, we were tempted by a pint but looking at the state of our muddy boots decided not to. All day Pendle had been brooding in the background.

*****

SD 38. BARROW TO NELSON.

We are out walking our SD 38 line again. A lane leads steeply out of Barrow through mainly new housing, ribbon development if ever I saw it. Crossing the busy A59 we continued climbing into Wiswell, an interesting little hamlet with a famous gastro pub. A van was delivering organic vegetables to houses, one of these expensive subscription ideas where you probably finish each week with a box still full of potatoes and carrots. From here the route became moorland onto a ridge which was really an outlier of Pendle Fell, the mast marked on the map seems to have disappeared. We had climbed 500ft in a mile and were beginning to steam in the mild weather. Sabden could be seen in the distance. Below us was the large hidden valley of Sabden Brook and we slowly made our way down to pick up tracks into the village. I mentioned the famous Sabden Treacle Mines of which Sir Hugh had no knowledge, sadly they are no more and I will leave those with curiosity to investigate. We followed lanes to the 19th century church and then out past a farm from where a pipe led into the fields. This pipe actually came out of the midden slurry tank and snaked  into the fields, a tractor pump was starting up to inflate the pipe which we followed almost hypnotically for several fields. Eventually the pipe seemed to connect up with another tractor with spreading machinery, but nothing happened. By now we realised we were off track so diverted back onto a rough farm road. This led to the 16th century Dean Farm  with its wonderful mullioned windows and incongruous 19th century extension.  Muddy fields and rough reedy grass below the ridge of the so called Forest Of Pendle led us to lunch on the wall of Tinedale House. A climb onto the grandly named Rigg of England which was mainly equestrian farms. Up here were good views back to the massive bulk of Pendle and across to Newchurch in Pendle which we had visited on The Lancashire Witches Walk.Below to the south was the industrial Burnley – Nelson – Colne corridor. It didn’t look too bad from up here. Ancient tracks down the hillside brought us into Fence alongside the White Swan pub where I recalled a seasonal wild garlic meal.  Where do these memories unexpectedly come from?

We made a mistake in trying to follow footpaths parallel with the busy road, we were hemmed in by unnecessary plastic ‘hedging’ on the boundary of more equestrian enclosures. Escaping eventually into a large graveyard, where we were surprised by the number of Muslim graves. We started dropping down into the valley alongside a small beck. Surprisingly green paths led us into the heart of the Lomeshaye Industrial Estate. At the large Wellocks complex we enquired what  ‘The perfect ingredient‘ was but unfortunately only Polish was spoken. Subsequently we discovered that it was a high end food distribution firm to the restaurant trade founded originally by a potato merchant whom Sir Hugh had known from his Yorkshire days. It was pleasant to enter Nelson through Victoria Park with its bandstand and paths alongside Pendle Water.

Under the motorway, over the canal and then a steep road heading up into Nelson town centre where we found the modern bus station which gave us a busy ride back to Barrow.

*****

 

 

 

 

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 3 – the two rivers.

Chatburn to Hodder Bridge.

As you may know I’m juggling a couple of routes giving winter walking, the northing SD38 across England with Sir Hugh and this shorter walk with The Pieman between our two towns. We meet up outside Hudson’s Ice Cream Parlour where we finished last time. I’ve enrolled JD [aka Doug] into today’s stroll, The Pieman appears from behind the ice cream cone.

We left the road by the church and followed paths down towards the river. An area popular with dog walkers judging by the number of poo bags hanging in hedges, I’ve given up commenting.

The Ribble was full with last night’s rain and snow melt. We were now on The Ribble Way skirting round the massive Horrocksford complex which produces a significant amount of England’s cement. The first bridge we came to was at West Bradford. After this we entered  a sculpture trail on the outskirts of Clitheroe. I think we missed most of the sculptures but noticed a few. None was outstanding.

After Brungerley Bridge we looked across to the impressive Waddow Hall a 17th century building owned by the Girls Guide Association and nowadays used as a wedding venue.Somewhere along here we passed muddy paddocks and then got sucked into new housing developments, they are everywhere, to arrive back onto the road at the sports centre. In the recreational ground we found a bench to watch the river go by and eat lunch. Edisford Bridge was built, at a former ford, in the 14th century and until 1600 was the only bridge upstream from Preston.

On the far side of the bridge is the eponymous hotel, having eaten we walked on by.

Complicated field paths led across to the complex of buildings at Withgill. All the while Kemple End, the eastern end of Longridge Fell, loomed above us, our onward route for another day.

The scenery improved and the paths became more interesting as we dropped down to the River Hodder.The river was crossed by the Higher Hodder Bridge with its historical boundary markings.This bridge is on our Skipton to Longridge line and from here our route will be up Kemple End and along Longridge Fell. But to finish off today we want to show the Yorkshireman some stunning scenery alongside the Hodder between the bridges.The familiar path undulates above the Hodder in splendid isolation. At one point a cross is seen, it has no inscription and local opinion is that it marks the spot of a drowning.Above us is the Stonyhurst estate and the long established Jesuit College. Down by the river are the remains of bathing houses where pupils changed before a bracing swim.And yet above us are buildings previously used by St. Mary’s Hall, a preparatory school for Stonyhurst College. It was closed in 1970 and converted into high-end living accommodation. There is a connection between Stonyhurst and Tolkien and hence there is a carving of Gandalf, the wizard, in the garden.

All that remained was a stroll alongside the Hodder to the Lower Bridge where the customany diversion was made onto Cromwell’s Bridge.

We had finished for the day. Rather mundane but highly enjoyable.

*****

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 1 – another straight line.

Skipton to Barnoldswick.Following on from the success of the straight line from Longridge to Arnside completed with Sir Hugh at the end of last year I have persuadedthe piemana resident of Skipton to undertake a similar scheme between our respective abodes.

The Pieman.

He is a lifelong friend, possibly blood related though I tend to ignore that, with whom I’ve shared many backpacking trips throughout Europe but recently we have not been able to meet up as much as required. So this was a good opportunity to get 2019 off on a better note. Thus I was drinking coffee in his house in Skipton early this morning before setting off on what could only be described as a drab day.

My local guide takes us across Aireville Park, where I used to play as a child, over the Leeds Liverpool Canal and out of town through an industrial estate with some interesting relics awaiting restoration.

Airedale Park.

We crept under a main road and crossed the placid River Aire on an old track into Carleton. This essential bridge for our route was just within the mile either side of our arbitrary straight line  The C19 mill in the village was originally for cotton-spinning but I remember buying carpets there in the 70s, apparently it is now luxury apartments.

Carleton.

Today we didn’t visit the village but took to unmarked footpaths through green drumlin fields. I have to concede that satellite tracking maps were a great help in navigating this section. We were going parallel to a disused railway [Skipton to Colne] and eventually we found ourselves walking along it for convenience until stopped by vegetation.Possibly we touched on a Roman Road leading to Elslack where there was a fort. Our priority was to find a picnic bench and there right in the middle of the hamlet was one in some sort of memorial garden. Having put his instant coffee powder into a cup he looked for the flask containing the hot water, unfortunately it was on the worktop back in Skipton. I had hot apple tea in my flask so he ended up with a strange brew.

We walked past the C15 Elsack Hall but at a discreet distance and then along the abandoned railway into Thornton-in-Craven joining the Pennine Way for a short stretch. The village has interesting old houses but no shop or pub and the heavy traffic deterred us from lingering.

Tree planted for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

?Millenium Clock.

On the edge of the village are Almshouses built for poor women, there is not much of that charity evident today.

By the church a sign guided us to a Holy Well in the grounds, dating from Saxon times it is covered by an octagonal structure erected in 1764 by the rector.

On a short stretch of golf course we joined The Pendle Way. It weaved around a church and graveyard where every grave was decorated with flowers, presumably from Christmas.

Rolls Royce have a large presence in Barnoldswick and we passed one of their factories before joining the Leeds – Liverpool Canal for the final stretch into town. My overall impression today was of green fields and a rich historical background.

*****

ALSTON – LOOPING THE LOOP.

As the crow flies it is 4 miles from Longridge to Samlesbury, where BAE Systems [previously British Aerospace] is based, however the River Ribble is only bridged at Ribchester or Preston both giving a far longer journey. A friend of mine would in summer take a short cut down Alston Lane and ford the river with his bike straight to work. Today I tried to identify the place he crossed but of course there was a lot of water running, I think the above photo is roughly the spot and I shall investigate further next summer.

Anyhow back to the beginning. Lethargy and other pressing problems these last few days have kept me in; it is easy to slip into this mood when the clocks change and Winter approaches, that is the reason I normally go off to sunnier climes. I planned this route last night and set the alarm so I was committed to venture forth. There was a window in the weather so timing was crucial which still gave me a leisurely breakfast. I was parked up at 10am,  My clockwise circuit ment walking on the main road for a few hundred metres alongside the ghastly development of new houses, all dumper trucks and lorries. Why have they seen fit to obliterate over a 100m of hedging to gain access to the fields? This did not put me in a good mood.

Thankfully I soon turned down Pinfold Lane  [pinfold – a pound for stray animals] and looked into the adjacent field where I found the base of the ancient Bolton Fold Cross which I’d not noticed before.

There were a couple with binoculars in the hides overlooking the wetlands adjoining the lane. I couldn’t see anything of interest except a long view to St. Lawrence’s Church and the prominent Dog Inn in Longridge.

Over towards Pendle there were darker clouds contrasting with the sunlit autumn foliage. Lanes linked little farms, most now converted into modern residences. A lot has changed since I last came this way. I bumped into the father of climbing brothers from the past and we chatted about old times. A farmer further on was more expressive [forthright as only farmers can be] about the world’s problems. All in a day’s walk. Hereabouts The Ribble Way crossed my path heading towards Ribchester on the line of a Roman road, of which there is little evidence.

Not all has been beautified.

 

This guy means business.

Dropping down fields I seemed to be heading to a cul-de-sac but there in the corner was a stile and a footbridge over the stream, all very delightful.


“falling leaves hide the path so quietly”
John Bailey

At last the object of my walk, the River Ribble, was glimpsed through the trees below. The river here makes a looping curve around flat fields with an escarpment on the south side. Ducks were floating in groups and when disturbed fired off in all directions like some of this weeks explosives. I do not understand why the Ribble Way doesn’t follow this delightful stretch of rural Lancashire.

Once past the ‘ford’ I was looking for C17th Old Alston Hall but only had a glimpse of it across private gardens. Higher up the lane is the C19th gothic Alston Hall which was used as an education centre by Lanc’s County Council until being sold to a private buyer. I won’t add fuel to the rumours of its recent extensive fire and plans for redevelopment. The observatory run by the University seems unaffected.

Old Alston Hall.

New Alston Hall and observatories.

It was a relaxing walk up Alston Lane, noticing all the recent residential conversions, back to my car. As I reached it the rain started in earnest – it’s all about timing.

*****

Possible ford in red.

 

 

THE HEAT GOES ON.

Beacon Hill, Grindleton Fell.

I’ve just eaten a punnet of cherries with a beer whilst watching Belgium beat Brazil in a World Cup  game . The lazy days of this summer are passing by and now we have Wimbledon and The Tour de France to distract us.

 The pieman and I met up at Chatburn earlier today. I was glad we made the effort. At one point when we were aimlessly wandering around in a field in the midday sun I questioned our sanity. We had descended from up high on Grindleton Fell and were aiming for the River Ribble but fences and obstructions were in our way giving rise to some scribbles on my route map below.

We had started off on an old lane out of Chatburn which when face to face with a massive limestone quarry took us down to the Ribble and along a concessionary path to the bridge. On the outskirts of Grindelton, a village worth exploring , we picked up a rising bridleway which passed by some interesting houses – Victorian Green Banks, Georgian White Hall and spacious and pretentious Cob House. The old Yorkshire expression ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’ came to mind as we speculated on who lived in these expensive properties. Then we were in the rough country above an old abandoned yet evocative farm.

We skirted the forest and ended up on the rarely visited Beacon Hill with a trig point at 305m, high enough for me today. We took the opportunity to relax, eat lunch and look at the views over the wooded Ribble Valley to Pendle and northwards towards the ‘Three Peaks’. A group of teenagers were struggling up the hill towards us, all heavily laden and no doubt on a DofE course. The ones at the front were chatty but the tailenders obviously had no desire to be where they were.

Hazy Pendle.

We passed through more desirable properties, thankfully guarded by docile dogs, before our episode of being lost, hot and bothered. Soon we were on The Ribble Way which in these parts upstream has been cruelly diverted away from the river by landowners with angling interests. We enjoyed our stretch of the river however as we headed back to Grindleton bridge and as the river was so low we contemplated a shortcut wading across. Oyster catchers and ducks lazed about on the rocks in the heat of the sun.

We cooled down with an ice cream from the famous Hudson’s shop in Chatburn, it was good to catch up with the pieman and we made plans for future forays.

*****