Tag Archives: Ribble Valley

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – LONGRIDGE FELL NEVER EASY.

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Up on Longridge Fell we were doing OK until the guide, walk no 23 of Mark Sutcliffe’s book, said to take a jink right in the trees. We already had jinked right awhile back as the fallen trees from last year’s storm Eunice?, blocked our tracks. But others had come this way recently, in fact quite a path had developed. We bushwhacked on. For once, I wasn’t the leader, Phreerunner was running but not as phree as he thought.

When Martin (aka Phreerunner) had included in his Friday walks Longridge Fell I couldn’t refuse to accompany him. I secretly knew the problems ahead but didn’t want to spoil the fun, it’s not Cicerones fault. I thought it a good idea to bring JD into the mix for some local support.

We had left Hurst Green alongside the delightful Dean Brook with its bobbin making history. The stream bed was carved by the water into Daliesque shapes. Resisting the urge to take another photo of Greengore we move on and across fields I don’t usually travel. Lanes and then a boggy path brought us out onto the top ridge where a simple stroll led to the summit trig point, 350 m. The light on the Bowland Hills was flitting from one area to another, but the three peaks never put in a show. Time for coffee and snacks.

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Shireburn Alms Houses.

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The onward path disappears into a dark plantation, and already we start meeting obstructions. When I was up here early last year I found it impossible to make safe progress. It was slightly better today as Martin forged forward bent double to avoid the branches. We made it through to more open ground and then found with the use of our phones a path going in the right direction. It is fairly chaotic up here at present, a shame that the forestry workers can’t spare a day with a couple of chain saws to clear a way.

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As we left Hurst Green earlier this morning we passed the Shireburn Alms Houses and I related as to how they were originally built higher up on the fell in the earlyC18th and subsequently moved stone by stone down into the village around 1946. Well now we were above their original site on the fell next to the ‘blue lagoon’ reservoir. It wasn’t blue today in the rather dull conditions. The foundations can still be seen if one looks around, we didn’t.

Across the road, over a wall and down some fields, the directions lacked clarity here. We ended up in someone’s garden with a couple of wild eyed dogs snapping at our heels. We escaped and found our way down a ravine, the correct stile now visible behind us. It always amazes me, and I’ve said it too many times, that landowners don’t put signage up through their property and maintain the stiles – it’s not asking too much. If you buy a country property you will be well aware of any rights of way coming through it. Time to start issuing fines, I know that will never happen.

We skirted around Stoneyhurst School, admiring the architecture and the long stately drive. I think this was all new for Martin, and I shall be interested in his write-up for the walk on his blog. Soup and rolls back at Chez BC completed an excellent ‘Friday Walk’  May meet up again when he moves his troops to Silverdale in a couple of weeks time, or should I make the effort and travel down to Cheshire for somewhere new?

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I didn’t take many photos, it was all too familiar, or so I thought, and we were busy chatting.

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A STIRRING TALE.

Capturemexico.

                                         The stricken Mexico.     E Krause/The Atkinson

“The sea ran mountains high, and the breaking water was fearful”. Coxswain William Clarkson Lytham, Lytham Lifeboat Charles Biggs.

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The tracks and lanes are still icy up here in Longridge. I want to get out on my bike, so opt for the hopefully snow free and safer Fylde Coast, there have been more than enough ‘accidents’ in my posts of late.

Has everybody had the same idea? The roadside car parks are all full and a mass of mainly dog walkers throng the promenade. And bracing is the word that comes to mind. The bracing was in the arctic breeze from the south, and it was in a southerly direction that I started. It will be easier on the return is once more my reasoning.

I’m always focused when pursuing a mission, and I’m on a mission today. I’ve been reading about the wreck of the sailing ship Mexico on the sands of the Ribble Estuary on the 9th December 1886. Worth a read here.

Basically the Mexico out of Liverpool became stranded on Ainsdale sands in a violent storm. Lifeboats from Southport, Lytham and St. Annes were launched. Those from Southport, Eliza Fernley, and St. Annes, Laura Janet. were both wrecked in the storm with the loss of 27 local men, (2 had survived from the Southport boat) . The Lytham boat, Charles Biggs, however rescued the 12 crew of the Mexico and rowed them to safety. An heroic effort but the single biggest loss of life in the whole history of the RNLI.

There are a series of related monuments and memorials scattered around the Ribble Estuary towns, Lytham, St. Annes and Southport. I’m only concerned with the first two today. Despite all my cycling exploits on this stretch of coast I have previously been unaware of this important history. How often must we go about with our eyes closed?

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First up is probably the most prominent, the St Annes lifeboat monument, depicting a lifeboatman, on the South Promenade, It is almost hidden behind walls in the ornamental St. Annes Promenade Park, next to the public conveniences, no wonder I’ve passed it by in the past. A William Birnie Rhind designed it in 1887. A colossal statue carved in sandstone with the names of the 13 lost from the St. Annes lifeboat, Laura Janet, The attached notice encapsulates the story. DSC02998DSC02992

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Up a main road, and I was at St. Annes Parish Church. Commissioned by Lady Clifton in the early 1870s, one of Paley and Austin’s, and named in memory of her aunt who was called Anne. (the Clifton family from Lytham Hall were prominent in the area for centuries) It was built as a chapel of ease to the then parish church of St Cuthbert in Lytham. Here are buried five from the Laura Janet boat. It is heartening that the Laura Janet Memorial has had a recent refurbishment funded by the local Civic Society. I found it in a forest of elaborate memorials, a sandstone Celtic Cross inscribed with the names of the men. The Church, Lychgate and Memorial are all grade II listed. Notice the pebble detail in the walls, a common architectural feature in St. Annes and Lytham.

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Winding back through side streets I find the original St. Annes Lifeboat House, on East Bank Road, now a funeral parlour but with a blue plaque to commemorate the disaster, and an unusual weather vane. It seems odd that this boathouse was so far inland whilst the new one is on the shore.

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After a pleasant cycle down the promenade I was at the site of the original Lytham Lifeboat House on the edge of the estuary. In the summer months it is open as a museum to the lifeboatmen. It was from here that on that fateful day in 1886 that the Lytham boat, Charles Biggs, rescued the 12 crew members of the Mexico. DSC03004 (2)

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DSC03012On the marsh shore are a couple of anchors caught up in a trawl net by a fishing boat in the 1980s. The larger one is of the type lost from the Mexico. The other dates back to the late C18th used by warships from the time of Admiral Nelson.

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Time to find the memorial in the graveyard of St. Cuthbert’s Church a few blocks inland. From the promenade I made my way through Lowther Park (more of that another time). The church dating from 1835 stands alongside a busy road, but the graveyard is peace and quiet. The Laura Janet Memorial was easy to spot, being the tallest around. A Gothic pinnacled tabernacle. Plaques told of the crew and where they are buried.

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Whilst I was hereabouts I discovered the Witch Wood – but again I will leave that for another time. All that remained was to cycle back up the promenade, thankfully with the wind behind me, to where I had parked on North Promenade.

The RNLI is a charity saving lives at sea and deserving our support. How much of the infrastructure of Britain now relies on dedicated volunteers and funding raised by the public?

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THE CREW OF THE ST. ANNES LIFEBOAT LAURA JANET.

William Johnson, 35  (Coxswain)
Charles Tims, 43       (2nd Coxswain)
Oliver Hodson, 39      (Bowman)
James Bonney, 21
Nicholas Parkinson, 22
Richard Fisher, 45
James Johnson, 45
John P Wignall 22
Reuben Tims, 30
Thomas Parkinson 28,
Thomas Bonney, 35
James Dobson, 23
James Harrison, 19

THE CREW OF THE SOUTHPORT LIFEBOAT ELIZA FERNLEY.

Charles Hodge  (Coxswain)
Ralph Peters     (2nd Coxswain)
Benjamin Peters
Peter Wright
Thomas Spencer
Thomas Rigby
Timothy Rigby
Harry Rigby
Thomas Jackson
Peter Jackson
John Ball
Henry Hodge
John Robinson
Richard Robinson

The Southport crew have their own memorial and burials in Southport across those treacherous sands. Next time I visit there I will be on the lookout.

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CaptureMexico

1. St. Annes Lifeboat Monument.   2. Laura Janet Memorial, St. Annes Church.   3. Old St. Annes Lifeboat House.   4. Old Lytham Lifeboat House.   5. Laura Janet Memorial, St. Cuthbert’s Church.  W. Witch Wood.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TREES.

DSC02663I have never been a fan of Tolkien’s works. I dutifully read The Hobbit way back then but never progressed to The Rings Trilogy. My imagination doesn’t go along with his. Yet here on my doorstep we have a landscape which possibly influenced his writings – the Ribble Valley. He visited Hurst Green and Stonyhurst College where his son was boarding. Hence, a tourist devised Tolkien Trail, wooded valleys and secret riverbanks, has taken shape and become very popular.

I was here today for a short walk mainly to check that past storms haven’t affected an old oak tree by the River Ribble on part of that ‘Tolkien Trail’.

It’s a short day, late up after Xmas day festivities and rain scheduled by noon. I park by that bus stop shelter if you know it above Lower Hodder Bridge. The path to Winkley Hall used to be a boggy affair, but no more. It has been upgraded somehow with stone chippings across the field, an advantage of the popularity of Tolkien.

Through the farm, suitably decorated with Xmas trees, and I’m at the junction of the Hodder and the Ribble in Middle Earth. Here stands a favourite tree of mine, yet another one you may say. The Winkley Oak with its majestic lower bole. How old? Maybe100, 200 or more years. What history has it seen in these parts? It is in good shape I’m glad to see.

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Blessings given I carried on my way to the next river junction where the River Calder joins in the fun. There used to be a ferry here and the old boat house is nearby. The river rushed on past Jumbles. A few dog walkers appeared coming from Hurst Green. Another tree took my attention with its skeletal winter outline against the grey sky.

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I left the trail and followed a lane to Fox Fields, a curious conglomeration of industrial units, and then I was in all things Hobbity. The Winkley Estate has done up some of its cottages and built a large ‘Wedding Venue’ complete with those ubiquitous pods in the woods. Everywhere are Tolkien references.DSC02686DSC02659

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I was soon back at the car, mission accomplished. We need more trees in our lives.

I will need longer outings than today’s three miles to walk off the Xmas excesses.

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Capture Tolkien.

A HURST GREEN VARIATION.

DSC02475With the trees almost bare of leaves we saw extra detail today on our stroll out of Hurst Green. Mike had phoned me the night before thinking it could be a dry day, at least in the morning. My knee was painful from Saturday’s walk around the Silverdale area, but I didn’t like to put him off – I have done so several times recently. I picked him up as his car was looking worse for wear after a close encounter with an HGV. He is slowly working his way through the maze of insurance reports.

Parking up opposite the Bayley Arms which is sadly once more deserted and neglected. It is a difficult time for the hospitality trade, but it would appear that it was being poorly managed according to the ubiquitous Tripadvisor. Hurst Green is in the civil parish of Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley. I’m mentioning this because Mike spotted the pub’s alternative name spelling at odds with the ‘official’. The parish is stuffed with listed buildings many associated with Stonyhurst College and estate.  The diverse architecture of the area does make it an ideal rambling venue for anyone with a historical interest. I restrain myself from photographing most of the gems passed today, well only a couple. The rest are hidden in my previous posts.

We suspect the Tolkien Trail will be very muddy, and it is becoming overused. So we head in the other direction dropping down to Dean Brook with its remnants of the water powered industries of previous centuries. Bobbin and spindle workings were common hereabouts supplying the flourishing Lancashire cotton mills. Mill races, previous ponds and evidence of damming seem more obvious today in the sunshine. The water is very lively after heavy rain. I used to bring my children and subsequently grandchildren along here, it was a favourite spot for ‘pooh sticks’ launched from the bridge and then followed downstream as far as possible. Today you would not have able to keep pace. DSC02476

I divert from the path to show Mike the abandoned Sand Quarry which provided the building blocks for much of Hurst Green. I had forgotten how extensive it had been, again everything looked clearer with the bare trees. Years ago Simon and I climbed an exciting route up the middle of the largest rock face using many of the features left by the quarrymen – shot holes and incut slots. It all looked overgrown today – nature slowly taking over.

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Onwards we went up the old cart track from the bridge. How many times have I photographed Greengore, an old hunting lodge, but today I found a different angle which highlighted its impressive southern frontage.

DSC02479Once on the top road we just ambled along catching up on the news, there were few cars to disturb us. Down the lane back to Stonyhurst we passed the well known Pinfold Cross commemorating a worker’s untimely death. Cometh the hour. DSC02481

And on past what had been the stables for the horse-drawn sledges pulling stone down from Kemple End Quarry, better quality than Sand Rock, to build the college and its houses. You can still follow the line of the sunken track up the fellside. The tumble down barn has been recently restored and upgraded to an upmarket holiday cottage.

We debated which route to take back to the village – go right and stay on the road all the way or continue down and follow a way through Stonyhurst College. We went for the more interesting latter knowing that it would entail a muddy section towards the end.

The college forefront was busy with coaches ferrying pupils around. The main building is under wraps for some restoration but the elaborate finials and roofline of St. Peter’s Church was just waiting to be photographed against the autumn sky. Here is my modest result – only to be approached by ‘security’ to say no photography. Why? Children’s dormitories. What in the church? I hope I don’t offend anybody with my picture.

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The muddy stretch has been improved by a short section of tarmacked track on the hill heading into Hurst Green. We entered in by the old smithy and the Almshouses and it started raining as we drove home over the fell Cometh the hour.

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Capturehurst green

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Easington Fell again.

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My usual ploy of a leisurely start to the day, drinking coffee, catching up with the news and maybe a crossword or two seemed to be sensible as the rain hammered down. Another coffee whilst I scanned the Cicerone Lancashire Guide for an accessible walk more testing than the Blacko one a couple of days ago, delightful though that was. (Today’s turned out to be a tough test of eight difficult miles)

This post became rather long and rambling, I can only apologise now.

I was soon driving out to Grindleton in the Ribble Valley. Several flooded roads did not bode well, perhaps I should have brought Wellingtons. But the forecast was for improvement, and I’ll go with that. The route in question , Walk 20, included an ascent of Easington Fell. I’ve been up there many times. A good friend used to live in Grindleton, and we often did circuits above the village. The last time I was up there was in lockdown 2020 when I approached from the north out of Harrop Fold. The day did not go well, and I was lost for some time (more than I would like to admit) in mist on the fell. I did not want a repeat of that fiasco. 

I parked in Grindleton which looked rather sad with both of its pubs closed. They were working on one, formerly the Buck Inn, but progress is slow. The Duke of York sits forlornly on the opposite corner.

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The Duke becoming derelict.


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Not likely! The old Buck Inn, why the name change? Looks like corporate management.

I walk through some lovely woodlands and above the old Greendale Mill originally powered by the lively valley stream.

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I found this on the internet, TCW.

In the 1850s and 60s a quarter of the adults in the village were hand loom weavers of cotton, but industrial mills were being developed apace and depriving the domestic workers of their livelihood. It would have been seen as a benefit to Grindleton when a mill was built there, providing jobs without the workers having to make arduous journeys further afield, perhaps to Preston or Blackburn. Greendale Mill was built in about 1868 by the Grindleton Industrial Association Ltd with space for 180 looms. It straddled a brook and was driven by a water turbine and a 15hp steam engine, which was powered by a huge coal-fired boiler 7ft in diameter and 25ft high. By 1871 the mill had been leased to a tenant, Timothy Marsden. He employed about 50 people and had 100 looms.

At about 12.50pm on Tuesday, September 26, Marsden was seen stoking the furnace to get the boiler steam pressure up. Two or three minutes later there was a shattering explosion. Shocked mill workers rushed out and saw the boiler house had been blown to bits. Masonry and roof slates lay everywhere, covering the surrounding fields up to 200 yards away. A pall of steam hung over the mill and the surrounding area, and there was a deathly silence.

Three or four men entered the boiler house and found the boiler had been torn from its brick setting and thrown across the room, its metal plates ripped apart, and the rivets sheared through. Timothy Marsden was lying on the floor, an oil can in his hand, gasping for air and making rasping sounds. He was severely scalded on his back, arms and legs, and he had a deep gash on his head.

The workers carried him into the cotton warehouse and a doctor arrived. Slipping in and out of consciousness and deeply shocked, Marsden asked what had happened and when told he said, ‘Poor me! What shall I do?’ With some difficulty his clothes were cut off. He asked to be taken to his home in Darwen, about 20 miles away, so he was carefully wrapped in blankets and loaded on to a horse-drawn cart for the journey. The doctor tended to the terrible scalds and the head wound for the rest of the week, but Marsden contracted lockjaw and died on the Sunday night, five days after the accident.

An inquiry was held at the Duke of York Inn, a few hundred yards from the mill, on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 14, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Damage to the building cost £500 (about £60,000 now) to repair, and the mill was not fully operational until early the next year. Cotton manufacturing continued until 1930. After that, felt was made for hats, and then engineering components. In 1960 the site was acquired by a haulage firm. It is now a storage facility. 

The area round the mill, about 20 acres, is now owned by the Woodland Trust which planted it with broadleaf trees in 2000 to commemorate the Millennium. There are a number of damson trees to reflect the fact that Grindleton was once home to a jam factory.

I thought that was worth the read.

Now on Green Lane leading up the fell. At one time this was a pebble stoned way. Bits of tarmac keep appearing to give access to the scattered houses. 

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I remember White Hall from some previous visit. Its price is now £2 million. 

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A touch of colour on the way.

Upwards and onwards I pass the extensive grounds and properties of Cob House. One of the grandest overlooking the Ribble Valley and no doubt valued at more than £2 million. I often muse as to who lives in these mansions, local businessman come good or a crook doing bad.

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A little farther up a Bridleway slopes off to the left into a valley with the isolated Simpshey Hill straight ahead. My memory clicks back to 1989 when I was introducing one of my son’s to off-road ‘cycle packing’, the other son has more sense. We camped down by the little stream and were surprised if not scared by a large black mink approaching us as we cooked our beans. We didn’t sleep easy. That was the time when animal rights activists were releasing the animals from the mink farms, much to the detriment of the local otter population.

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Simpshey Fell and valley.

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West Clough Brook.

I worked my way around Simpshey and then Easington Fell with its forest appeared, it looked a long way. In fact, I ended up walking continuously uphill for nearly 4 miles and was glad of a sit down on an old wall for a bite to eat. From up here Pendle was prominent on the horizon, as always, and swinging round the Bowland Fell were all a bit hazy in the moist atmosphere.

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The long way up to Easington Fell in red.

DSC02184I knew that the next section around the north side of the forest would be hard going. I aim for a pile of stones, marked as ‘The Wife’ on some maps.

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The wife.

From there is rough ground, climbing the ‘rusty gate’ mentioned in Mark’s guide, up to another pile of stones marking the summit of Easington Fell, 396 m. (Header photo) The good views into Yorkshire and the Three Peaks were obscured, but I could see my way along the plantation edge. What is not readily apparent is the condition of the ground, it deteriorates into a reedy boggy nightmare where I was concerned I would sink without trace. By now the wetness had spread up to my waist, and I was tiring in the heavy going. I was looking for a way through the forest and was concerned it maybe blocked by all the storm damage from last winter. The easy option would have been to continue outside the trees on an undulating course to Beacon Hill, but I was keen to follow the guide. An indistinct post showed the way into a fire break which thankfully was clear of fallen trees.

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That rusty gate – first of many obstacles.

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Distant Beacon Fell.

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Rough going – what lies beneath?

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Trouble ahead?

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That elusive fire break.

At its end I joined the Shivering Ginnel, an ancient walled route through these hills. ‘Shivering’ because it was so often a cold north-easterly wind that blew through here.

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Shivering Ginnel.

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How many have passed this way.

It was a relief to break out onto the open moor at Beacon Hill. The ground around the summit seems to have been disturbed, mining activity or a more ancient burial ground? Does anybody know?  Pendle has to appear in the background of the Summit photo. The River Ribble is somewhere down below.DSC02212DSC02217

DSC02213I’m soon off the fell and on a lane past Scriddles Farm. Don’t know the derivation, but we have had some lovely S’s today – Simpshey, Shivering and Scriddles.

Across a stile is a ‘Shepherd’s Hut’ with a great view and the obligatory ostentatious hot tub – but who uses these bacterial baths especially with a public footpath coming through. DSC02219

DSC02220The next mile or so was not the best, unmarked paths and crumbling stiles. To make matters worse the afternoon light was rapidly deteriorating. I followed this way in reverse a while back with Sir Hugh and The Rockman, we struggled then but the intervening years have not been kind to all those stiles. Most were difficult and a couple downright dangerous. The guide underplays this section, some acrobatic agility is needed together with the more detailed 1:25000 map, I resorted to phone navigating technology and the landowners could be more helpful.

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Slowly rotting away.

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Rights of way have a knack of disappearing in horsey country. I’ve nothing against horses.

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Somewhere down there.

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Don’t look down.

I was glad to reach the ancient sunken track leading straight back to Grindleton.

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Jelly Ear fungi – edible but just too nice to pick.

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Any ideas?

There is a choice of ways through the village – the Main Street with some impressive houses.  or the back ally with its cottages. Little ginnels run between the two, and I notice there is a marked trail around the village.DSC02236DSC02237DSC02239DSC02238DSC02240DSC02159

A pleasant place to live apart from those two derelict pubs. 

 

 

IS CYCLING DANGEROUS?

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I had an uneventful trip around the Guild Wheel yesterday. I can cycle 20 miles or so without any problem to my knee but can’t walk 4 miles, all to do with weight-bearing. So here I am back at my start, Red Scar, for another muscle strengthening ride. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the motorway system at present, so I’m staying local. The Wheel here takes you along the access road to Preston Crematorium which brings back many sad thoughts of departed friends. I’ve only gone a few hundred yards when ahead of me is a cluster of police cars and ambulances. How can this be on this dead end quiet lane?

A father and daughter were out for a gentle safe ride along the wheel. A stressed inattentive car driver travelling at speed on the wrong side of the road. Result one seriously injured cyclist and one very scared daughter. The dent in the car windscreen said it all. I hope the cyclist is OK.

I turn around and cycle back home.

NEWS FROM THE WHEEL.

Was I comatosed by the sweet aroma of the prolific Himalayan Balsam plants that lined the route? I seemed to fly around the first half of the wheel without being aware of what I had passed. Time travel on two wheels.

Before I knew it I was in Avenham Park, encountering and trying to avoid the deafened walkers tuned in to their music and the dogs on ever longer leads. Peace returned through the docks. Here I noticed for the first time a signage for an engineering award bestowed on the Guild Wheel.

I’m not sure when I was last here but the groundwork on the Western Link Road has gone on apace. Roads are already tarmacked and the expansive and no doubt expensive bridge over the canal completed. It will be interesting to see where they route our Guild Wheel.

I call in for a coffee and a rather expensive slice of cake at the Final Whistle in the university sports ground.

The only field left in Cottam has sprouted houses since my last visit. Where have all the flowers gone?

I was getting weary by the time I reached Red Scar.

Twenty-one miles and what do you get?     Another day older and stiff in the neck.

This was In my head as I rode around the Wheel, it’s been there since my childhood, inspired by –

Tennessee Ernie Ford Sixteen Tons (with lyrics) – YouTube

IN THE SHADE.

P1090206We are at the start of another heat wave, being out in the sun for long is energy sapping. But it is Tuesday when Rod and Dave go climbing, they have sensibly decided upon the shady Witches Quarry. I tag along.

My blog has been here before. I have been many times over the years, it is our nearest limestone climbing. The narrowest of lanes lead out of Downham for a few twisty miles with Pendle looming above. Today tractors going about their business slow me down – but there is no rush with the top down. Following an agreement with the farmer one is allowed to drive into the quarry, close the gate!

When I arrive a few other climbers are already doing routes. It’s a small world and I know most of them, so we chat whilst I wait for my mates to arrive. Then we sneak off to the lower and easier left-hand buttresses.

In times gone by we always wanted to lead a climb, ie roped up from the bottom, placing protection as you went. That felt like the only way to climb – testing one’s physical and mental capabilities. Of course there was always the risk that if you fell you may be injured or worse, with good judgement and luck I have survived 50 years of climbing. 

Times moves on, we are not as fit as before, we have lost that ‘edge’ to push ourselves, accidents at our age could have serious consequences. OK I’ll admit it we have lost our nerve and humbly resort to top roping routes. Having a rope above is so very reassuring.

We busy ourselves on some short crack climbs which seem more strenuous and tricky than their grades would suggest. All very enjoyable. We are in the shade, good company and the rural surroundings of the quarry are a joy. What better way to spend an afternoon.

Meanwhile, the other teams are leading much harder routes which I remember from the day. We are well and truly put in the shade.

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Rod and Dave safely top roping.


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Steve leading something much harder.

For the record – Hemlock, Coven Crack, Cauldron Crack, Sixth Finger and The Shrew.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – back on the trail.

P1090151It’s two months since I was last able to do a walk out of Mark Sutcliffe’s guide book. Finding one locally I strode out today on his Jeffrey Hill chapter. The suggestion was to park at Little Town Dairy, a farm shop, nursery and café. I feel guilty using a businesses’ car park if I’m not giving them any business so I parked by the road higher up on the route, which was to prove tiresome later in the day.

I had reservations about the initial route through the upmarket barn  conversions at Dilworth Brow Farm, previously a run down property. There was no need to worry, the path through was obvious, and even the local dog was friendly. Every farm seems to be erecting holiday lodges, Is this a result of the recent ‘staycation’ mentality?

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An uncertain start.

 

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Dilworth Brow.

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Once into fields I could enjoy views over the Ribble Valley and distant Pendle as I dropped to an ancient bridleway. Being enclosed and sunken this was once a boggy mess, but drainage has been installed and an upgraded grit surface added. This was only a short section of the right of way, one wonders why certain paths are improved (a further one later) when others are neglected.

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Note the size of the left-hand gatepost.

I made the obligatory short diversion to view the Written Stone, I have written of this before,excuse the pun. A car passes down the farm lane, I thought I recognised friends from years ago and regretted not stopping them. As I walked through the tidy environs of Cottam House I asked a man about the history of the place, he turned out to be the son of the above couple. So we had a catch-up, I passed on my regards and walked on.

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The Written Stone.

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This was the start of a slow climb back up to the ridge of Longridge Fell. Rough ground skirting the golf club and then the road up to Jeffrey Hill at Cardwell House. A large walking group was coming past and didn’t seem over friendly, head down mentality. There was a straggler taking some interest in his surroundings. We ended up in a long conversation about all things, as he said “it’s not dark till late”. I felt he had lost connection with the route march he had been on. Nobody came looking for him.

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Up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The Ribble Valley and Pendle.

 

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No time for stragglers.

I took a picture of the iconic view which I mentioned in a recent post. A ‘glass wall’ has replaced the iron railings depicted in the painting I own from 40 years ago.

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That view from Jeffrey Hill.

Nearby was a bench for refreshments. Some stones had been intricately carved as part of an art sculpture from 2014, It was a shame they removed the star of the installation, the Sun Catcher.

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Remains of the sculpture installation.

Now steeply downhill, look at the contours, ending up on the road at Thornley Hall. The ford leading off the road was surprisingly full. The next bit of track starts as a track but quickly becomes an overgrown narrow path, the book advises a stick for hacking back the vegetation. I happily swashbuckled my way along and at the end came onto another strange short stretch of gritted path.

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Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.

 

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The listed C18th Thornley Hall.

 

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The ford.

 

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A promising start to the bridleway…

 

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…soon becomes this…

 

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…and then unexpectedly this.

Familiar lanes took me past Wheatley Farm and a house that always has a splendid floral display. Onto the busy main road where care is needed on the bend. I was glad to be back in the peaceful fields of Chipping Vale under the Bowland Hills. Heading towards Little Town Dairy where I could have parked at the start, but no I was faced with another steep climb back onto the fell. I reckon I had climbed over 1000ft in the 7 miles which took me 4 hours including all those stops.P1090169

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Wheatley Farm, 1774.

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One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.

 

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Parlick and Fairsnape.

There was one more encounter at Sharples House. The farmer there had previously talked of having the largest cheese press in Lancashire, I believed him. In the past many farms in the area made their own cheese, tasty Lancashire. Today he seemed in a good mood, so I enquired further, and he took me to see the stone, it was indeed large and must have weighed a ton. He explained that the house was from the late 17th century. A former occupant, a Peter Walken (1684-1769) had been a nonconformist minister as well as a farmer. Uniquely he kept a series of diaries, most have been lost but two from 1733-34 have been found and published by a researcher from Preston museum. The present farmer was contacted and was able to see the journals but described them as boring, though they must have given an insight into farming life in the first half of the 18th century. He also told me of a mystery from the last century when two thieves broke into the house killing the farmer, but the daughter perhaps escaped hiding in an adjacent barn. One wonders how much local history has been lost.P1090183

There is another mystery just along the lane at Birks Farm – what is this structure in the wall built for? I should have asked the last farmer, next time.P1090184

Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.P1090186P1090189P1090190

***

 

Capture

TO BEE OR NOT TO BEE.

Last year I bought a recommended book ‘Dancing with Bees’ by Brigit Howard, though fascinated by the subject I didn’t get past the first few chapters. It remained on my bedside table along with other must read volumes. I’ve caught up on about a dozen books whilst laid low with a vicious Covid visitation. Brigit’s book is as much about reconnecting with nature as it is about bees and I have been stimulated to learn more. I took advantage of a hot sunny day and went outside to watch the bees visiting a particularly scented clump of purple Astrantia. It was overload with so many bees buzzing around, several species were noted but as for identifying them that was a different matter. Taking photos was as frustrating as with butterflies. This isn’t going to be easy. Defeated I await the arrival of a bee identification book before I try again.

***

Meanwhile, I am aware of Bee Orchids growing in our local limestone quarries. I have never seen one. A chance comment from Shazza (all things nature and Clitheroe) mentioned she had spotted Bee Orchids at Crosshill Quarry, that’s all I needed. A flower Bee should be easier to observe than a flying one.

It wasn’t that easy. I parked up in Pimlico on the edge of the industrial sites of Clitheroe and headed into Crosshill Quarry nature reserve. A meadow off to the right was all a meadow was supposed to be, abundant grasses and flowers. I felt like Sherlock Holmes combing through the foliage for evidence. Purple orchids, trefoil, vetch, etc but no Bee Orchids.

I continued on to the small Quarry within the site where Shazza had reported  Bee Orchids. I searched diligently across the open quarry floor, ideal limestone habitat for a Bee Orchid, but to no avail, wishing I had asked her for a more precise location. There was a myriad of other species, marjoram, bedstraw, twayblade and other orchids.

The last time I was here on the Sculpture Trail I failed to spot the Footprints in the rock face by Tom Dagnall – I made sure I didn’t miss them today.  They were so effective, how did he carve them into the limestone? 

***

Round two. There is a geological trail nearby, Salthill Quarry, which I had never visited, All was unfriendly industrial units and articulated lorries. I eventually found somewhere safe to park the car and set off more in hope than expectation. The main purpose of the trail was to highlight the rock faces and bedding planes of an old limestone quarry. Crinoid fossils predominated. I was itching to climb the shorter walls but thought better of it. The path was too enclosed for Bee Orchid habitat, I needed open spaces. Following the trail round, it could do with better interpretation boards, I came into more open ground with Pendle Hill lording above us. A fossil bench has been constructed with images of ‘sea lilies’, animals on the sea bed, that became crinoid fossils all those years ago. Backwards and forwards I combed the hillside for the elusive bee. I was by now almost back to where I had started, and I took a diversion to look at an isolated rock face on the edge of the industrial complex. Some other purple orchids took my attention and there suddenly was a Bee Orchid. It couldn’t be mistaken and then there were a couple more. By now I was down on my knees trying to zoom in for the best shot. And to think I was only 40 metres from where my car was parked inside the quarry.

***


Ironically the bee mimicked by this orchid is not present in the UK, so the plant is self pollinating after all. Why is it here in the first place?

NEW PATHS AT HURST GREEN.

I’ve probably walked out of Hurst Green dozens of times. The Tolkien Trail takes you along the River Ribble and going the other direction towards Longridge Fell you have the delightful Dean Brook and Stonyhurst College. Today I was walking with a group whom I first met at Haigh Hall a month ago – they always walk the last Wednesday in the month.

It was still raining when we met up at The Shireburn Arms at 10am. The forecast said it would stop at 12. I didn’t bring my camera partly because of the weather but also because in a group there are limited chances for photography. Of course, we all have our phones these days with functional built-in cameras. Anyhow, I didn’t expect to tread new territory.

As we walked up through the village and down into Dean Clough I contented myself with idle chatter. The interesting mill weirs and races in Dean Brook went unnoticed to most. The quarry, Sand Rock, where the building materials for many houses in Hurst Green originated passed us by. Greengore, a medieval hunting lodge of the Shireburns was duly admired. It is currently up for sale £1,250,000.

Onwards up the bridleway and I realise it has stopped raining which is a bonus for the assembled crowd, although it is very muddy underfoot. We are on the edge of woodland belonging to Stonyhurst College where they have their own private lake as a water supply and fishery. I have trespassed many times into those secret  lands where there is a hidden cross, Park Cross, with a history going back possibly to a Maria Shireburn, whose body may have been carried past here on the way to her burial at Mitton in 1754. It is one of nine  Stonyhurst crosses I incorporated into a walk from Hurst Green. I digress.

To my delight our leader takes us off on a bridleway through Hudd Lee Woods an area I had never knowingly trodden. The bluebells were over but the greens of the beeches and ferns were splendid, as a little sunlight filtered through. My spirits were lifted.

On down to the main road where we saw the remains of the C18th grade II listed Punch Bowl Inn. It is said to have been visited by the highwaymen Dick Turpin and Ned King in 1738. They stayed for three days after which Turpin travelled to York while King attacked travellers on the local roads. King was executed in 1741 and his ghost was reputed to haunt the pub. The pub had been closed for many years and the new owners tried to get planning permission for several schemes which were turned down so last year they demolished it without permission. An investigation followed, leading Ribble Valley Council to instruct the owners to rebuild it! I can see them appealing the decision and getting away with a slap on the wrist. We seem to have lost any sense of duty and honesty in this country as exemplified by the findings of the Sue Gray report published today on the goings-on of our ‘honourable’ Prime Minister.

Back onto the quieter Shire Lane with views over the Ribble Valley. Just when I thought we were cruising into Hurst Green we were taken through a farmyard and into fields trampled by a herd of frisky bullocks. While most of us tried to avoid the worst of their  excrement a brave member of the group held the beasts at bay with his walking poles.  “They weren’t here yesterday – honest” was the plea of our leader.

A bonus was one of those Peak & Northern Footpaths Society green signs erected in 2016.

A couple of awkward high stiles slowed the less agile of the party, but they were the only ones uncounted all day. Then we were heading downhill quickly and slipperily back to Dean Brook. At the bottom we found ourselves in the garden of a couple of stone built properties, one had been originally a bobbin mill supplying bobbins and shuttles to the Lancashire cotton mills  using power from a mill race taking water from Dean Brook. Again this is something I had missed in the past.

We had come full circle and retired to the excellent Shireburn Arms for lunch.

Greengore.

The Punch Bowl 2019

Now.

Heading down to the old bobbin mill.

That had been an excellent circuit and I regretted not bringing my camera.

.

A RIGHT GOOD TRUNDLE.

When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called myself ‘bowlandclimber’. My first post incidentally was information on the climbing at Kemple End Quarry on Longridge Fell. I was out climbing most days, either in the mountains of Wales or the Lake District, the edges of the Peak District or Yorkshire, the Lancashire quarries or the bouldering in Bowland. What great friendships shared. As somebody said – “we had it all”

Time moves on, life evolves I’ve lost a great many friends in those years, that is the worst thing. My climbing unfortunately has taken a back seat for all sorts of reasons – OK I’m getting old and the joints aren’t what they used to be. But I’m not giving up that easily.

Today I find myself hanging from an abseil rope doing a spot of ‘cleaning’ in Kemple End. I love it up here. Those views over the Ribble Valley, the deer hiding in the quarry floor, the fresh green growth of bracken, the barn owl roosting across the other side, the thrill if anybody else is climbing here, the first chalked up handhold and the familiar movement across the rough rock, brushing off any loose dust.

Someone has reported, on a climbing forum, concerns about a hanging flake on one of the climbs – Birdy Brow for those familiar. I’ve soloed up and down this route, perhaps recklessly, for many years enjoying the positive layback moves on the flake’s edge. It has never moved.

I went back up there a few days ago and all seemed well but when you examined the flake carefully it was only balanced there by a bit of soil. There was no direct attachment to the quarry face. I felt a pang of conscience – what if someone was injured or worse, killed on this route. I was responsible for finding the route and publishing it to the climbing network. There it was in print in the Lancashire guide book, it even has a star.

Here’s a great photo of Phil Gillespie soloing it – (?copyright UK Climbing)

I’m back today intending to remove the flake which must weigh a ton. Hence, the abseil rope. I’ve brought a crow bar, but it only moves the flake a little, Maybe it is more secure than I thought, but once started I may have made the situation worse. Huffing and puffing I realise I don’t have the strength to prise it from its resting place. My car is only 50 m away and in the boot is the jack – never used in earnest before. Is this a job for the AA? 

I return and carefully place the carjack between rock and flake, a few turns of the screw and I can see results. Slowly the gap is widening, and I have time to ensure my safety and recover the jack intact as all that rock crashes to the ground. With a touch of sadness I realise the flake is no more. But there is one hell of a mess of broken rock on the quarry floor and some revision due to the climbs here.

All looks well on Birdy Brow.

 

Well maybe not.

 

That’s a lot of rock to fall down on you.


Jack in place. Does this photo make you feel dizzy?

 

Going.

Gone.

Down below.

A new scar to climb.

As I said my first post ever was about climbing at Kemple End, so it was fitting that this, my 1000th post, was on the same locality. Unfortunately I managed to delete a past post into the ether yesterday, so technically this post no 999, but I’m not having that. 

This is my 1000th post – maybe it is time to stop?

CLITHEROE – CROSSHILL QUARRY AND THE SCULPTURE TRAIL.

After my pleasant interlude in the Primrose Nature Reserve I drove across town to visit the Cross Hill Nature Reserve, managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

“Colonised by orchids and teaming with butterflies, Cross Hill Quarry is a shining example of how nature reclaims the relics of our industrial past.”

I found parking difficult on the road used by all the lorries visiting the cement works but eventually found a quiet spot on the Pimlico Road.  The area is dominated by the works, limestone Cross Hill Quarry was apparently abandoned in the early 1900s. I entered by the path next to the railway to walk round in a clockwise direction.  What struck me most was the notice board for the Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail. in  This was established in 1993 to make art accessible to all whilst enjoying the walks in the park. Artists liaised with the local community to produce works relating to the specific environment. I had previously passed a few of them on the riverside walk, part of The Ribble Way through Brungerley Park. There have been many newer installations, so why not follow the whole trail today?   Download your own leaflet here.

The first sculpture is one of several by Halima Cassell,  a flower head of  Great Burnet, 2009. Made up of many ceramic bricks it displays strong  patterns reflecting her Islamic heritage which you will recognise in her other works.

To start with the path was very close to the industry on the left, but one soon lost oneself in the greenery. I diverted to see the Tawny Owl Seat, 2018, created out of sandstone by the prosaic Ribble Valley Stonemasonry. I wasn’t impressed, but it did have a good view of the Ribble and distant misty Bowland.

There was a good showing of Cowslips in the meadowland here, but I realised I was probably a month too soon for the orchids and butterflies, although I did spot a solitary male Orange Tip.

Back on the peripheral path were a stunning pair of Sika Deer, 2007, by Clare Bigger. These life-sized minimalistic animals sprang out of the woodland in a flury of movement.

A little farther and there was another of Halima Cassell‘s geometric ceramics – Fir Cone.  Very grand and distinctive.

In contrast, was the diminutive stainless steel Butterflies, 2007, the first of three waymarks by David Appleyard. He developed these in collaboration with local schools.  The symbolic nature of the cutouts demand a much closer attention.

A little farther is another of his installations – Ivy, 2007.

The higher path led into the more formalised Brungerley Park. A workman was busy blowing the leaves off the paths, work I always think of as lazy and ultimately unproductive when the next winds blow. Here was the strangest of sculptures in the park. The Cook House, 2000, Helen Calaghan.  Apparently depicting a pan of boiling  tripe, is there a history of this in the quarry?  She has incorporated fossils, as found locally, into the goo.  Very strange.

Back to the more familiar at the gate – Common Comfrey, Halima Cassell, 2009.

I left the park through the ornate gates with a Latin inscription beyond me…

…only to re-enter the park lower down near Brungerley Bridge.

Again a comforting installation from Halima Cassell welcomed me back – Alder Cone, 2009.

This path now was closer to the river. The garden blower was still at work but had time to explain to me how at one time there was a landing stage for pleasure boats here and long before the bridge was built hipping stones across the shallows, with links to Henry VI’s capture in the C15th.

Disappointedly I couldn’t make much of Tom Dagnall‘s  Two Heads in an elm tree from 1993. I know the artist but couldn’t see one head never mind two. I think they must be on the other side or have rotted away.