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.
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 –
We 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.
Rod and Dave safely top roping.
Steve leading something much harder.
For the record – Hemlock, Coven Crack, Cauldron Crack, Sixth Finger and The Shrew.
It’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?
An uncertain start.
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.
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.
The Written Stone.
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.
Up to Jeffrey Hill.
The Ribble Valley and Pendle.
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.
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.
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.
Looking back up to Jeffrey Hill.
The listed C18th Thornley Hall.
A promising start to the bridleway…
…soon becomes this…
…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.
Wheatley Farm, 1774.
One has to spend one’s money on something. 57 has gone shopping.
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.
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.
Up the steep lane, over the last stile and I finish this splendid walk back at my car overlooking Longridge.
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?
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.
The Punch Bowl 2019
Heading down to the old bobbin mill.
That had been an excellent circuit and I regretted not bringing my camera.
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?
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?
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 ValleyStonemasonry. 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.
Down some steps to the riverside I found Fish Mobile, 2007, by Julie Ann Seaman. Depending on where you stand the fish either swim in the Ribble or leap above the water. Mine did neither.
Onwards I retraced my steps on the outbound route and then dropped to the river again where I found another of David Appleyard‘s steel waymarks, Brook, 2007. Symbolic of flowing water.
Down here was also As the Crow Flies a compass feature in wood by David Halford from 1994. Wooden sculptures don’t seem to last long in the damp NW. The next ceramic mosaic was inspired by Victorian shop doorways in Clitheroe, Wildlife, from Louise Worrell, 2000. It looked more Roman than Lancastrian.
Another Halima Cassell brick creation Lords and Ladies, 2009. Nearby were the real flowers.
Alongside the riverside track were three Mosaic Waymarkers created by Paul Smith in collaboration with Clitheroe primary schools in 2005. They depicted wildlife found in the area with glass and ceramic mosaics.
My side trip into the quarry was not a great success, I forgot to look for Thomas Dagnall’s Footprints as I examined the slanting strata of the limestone. I was too soon for most flowers, though the delph was alive with birdsong.
Where the Ribble Way leaves the park to follow the river there was a striking sculpture of an Otter in white limestone, Fiona Bowley, 2007. I don’t know why, but it reminded me of the Little Mermaid on the waterfront in wonderful Copenhagen. I have yet to see an otter on the Ribble.
Down by the river was the jolly The RibbleKing an imaginative piece created by Matthew Roby, 2007, from recycled materials. At least I often see Kingfishers on the Ribble.
Fittingly, as her geometric representative floral statues composed of multiple ceramic bricks have been a highlight of the trail, my last as I left the reserve was Halima Cassell’s Thistle. Again this had been installed in the relative recent 2009 which explains why I had not seen them on my infrequent visits.
An eclectic collection of statues all having some relevance to the Ribble Valley environment. I like the way schools have been involved in some installations but from a purely visual impact the more professional statues had the most impact on my limited appreciative sensibilities. My favourite has to be the Sika Deer.
I appreciated the bench in the park and the sentiment.
Back at the car and looking at the map there was another disused quarry on the other side of the road with a green public right of way around it. I couldn’t resist it, but unfortunately the quarry has been in filled and the path is fenced in most of the way, so there was little to see. At least I tried.
Salthill Geological trail will have to wait for another day, perhaps in early June when those rare orchids may appear.
Clitheroe is just down the road from my home and at the back of my mind was an excellent post from Shazza regarding a nature reserve in town. Three in particular I wanted to visit; Primrose, Crosshill Quarry and Salthill.
I got away at lunchtime and eventually found somewhere to park adjacent to the newish Primrose Nature Reserve. I remember the excellent Primrose Nursery which used to trade across the road – now an Aldi. There is a bridge above the lodge dam and below is the new fish ladder allowing fish and eel access to Mearley Brook. The mill buildings are being converted to apartment living spaces. Work has been carried out to improve the water environment and access to it. Community And Wildlife | Primrose Nature Reserve | Clitheroe (primrosecommunitynaturetrust.org)
The lodge was created to supply Primrose Mill, opened for cotton spinning in 1787, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in Clitheroe Subsequently the mill was used for calico printing and later became a paper mill. The paper mill at Primrose had a relatively short life until1890, but the lodge continued to feed a Lower Mill which ultimately became a bleaching and dying works and continued to operate until 1963. The lodge became silted up.
I stood at the bridge for some time intrigued whether the heron was real or not, it didn’t move an inch.
I found a way into the reserve and down to a viewing platform – a few ducks only. The path through the reserve strip was followed with Blackbirds and Chiffchaff noisy in the canopy somewhere. I stopped at the ‘Manet’ bridge to view some water sluices when along came along a black Labrador which I thought I recognised from Shazza’s posts – Hugo. Of course, he was with Shazza herself, so I bravely introduced myself. What an amazing meeting of bloggers. She was as charming as her posts, and it was a joy to meet her.
I let her carry on with Hugo’s exercise as I left the reserve on to the main Whalley Road. The trustees and volunteers have created a vital green space in the centre of Clitheroe which will only improve as it matures.
Ahead of me was St. James Church looking almost as an L S Lowry painting in its starkness.
I walked back along the road and on crossing the lodge bridge once more I saw that the heron had changed its stance proving its existence.
I next went to explore Crosshill Quarry Reserve but became distracted by the Ribble Valley Sculpture Trail, so I think I will leave that to another post.
Another walk below 5 miles from Mark Sutcliffe’s excellent Lancashire guide, this will be the last of his easy walks to test out my knee. The train took some of the strain today. I parked up outside Whalley rail station next to the impressive many arched brick viaduct. This is the longest railway viaduct in the county. It has 48 arches and two have been built to reflect the Abbey in architecture. It took seven million bricks, and they were all made on site of local clay. I hope it will show up later on my photos from on high. The platform slowly filled with shoppers and football fans heading to Blackburn. Being a Bank Holiday I was anxious that the trains would be running but the 11.30 arrived almost on time. It trundled slowly across the viaduct with the River Calder way below. Five minutes later I was the only one alighting at Langho station. The village had a small but colourful floral display.
My walk nearly came to an abrupt end on the narrow clough leading on from Whinney Lane. The enclosed path ran alongside a stream and a storm damaged tree blocked the route. I was glad no one was able to see me crawling through the fallen branches. I only just made it and then realised a family above were watching my antics with interest. Somewhat disillusioned the father made an effort to get through but then decided it was too difficult for his wife and children, and they retreated – I pushed on.
Jungle warfare – there’s a man crawling in there somewhere
Lanes then led up to York, a cluster of houses and an inn, which seems to have had a renaissance as a gastropub. Open ground with gritstone outcrops formed a ridge which would have been good to follow, but my way took me over and down to the dam of Dean Clough Reservoir and across to farm lanes weaving through these hidden valleys. Ahead was always the distant Pendle Hill but nearer at hand was a pointed peak which I later identified as Bowley Hill, there was no obvious way up it and as my knee was hurting I didn’t feel like adventuring.
The ongoing lane was closed due to works on the bridge over Dean Brook, more contortions were needed to outflank the blocked way. Fittingly I next passed Sunny Bank Farm as sheep and lambs were relaxing in the warm sunshine. Just emerge yourself into Lancashire’s finest. A bit of naughty signage, Private No right of Way, had me doubting the onward path but there was an obvious track up to a stile and out onto more open moor. I could have reached this point easily, and possibly more scenically, from the reservoir dam. I took the less obvious way through the woods and emerged onto Moor Lane. I thought I had been here before on either Wainwright’s Way or my Lancashire Monastic Way. Pendle was again prominent ahead as was the transmitter on Whalley Nab. Over to the left was Kemple End on Longridge Fell and the hazy Bowland Hills behind.
The lucky young occupants of the cottage above Nab Side Farm were chatty despite being engrossed in their extensive hillside garden. A little farther round the hillside I took a break overlooking Whalley and its viaduct.
An enclosed and steep monk’s trod challenged my knee ligaments on the way down to the elegant bridge over the Calder.
I passed the old Abbey corn mill, now an apartment block and I noticed for the first time the water wheel preserved within. Somehow I missed the Abbey’s gateways and went through the streets, past the ancient parish church, back to the Station to complete my afternoon’s stroll.
A walk I must have done dozens of times. I was looking for a short flattish walk to test out my knee. Walk 22 in the Cicerone guidebook fitted the bill, and I was anticipating the woods full of bluebells. It turned out to be a day of bright sunshine but with a violent wind out of the east.
The Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green was busy with the sunny weekend weather. I didn’t use their car park but found a spot in the village near the war memorial. Lambing Clough Lane took me down past the C17th Trough House (they have a fetish for weighing scales) to the new Dinckley bridge over the River Ribble. The river was running low with the exposed pebbly beaches accessible.
This stretch seemed to be popular with dog walkers today – but doesn’t everyone own a dog or two now. Entering Marles Wood the path threads between the trees often awkwardly over the exposed roots. The bluebells were only just starting, but there was a good display of Wood Anemones and the Lesser Celandines were hanging on. The new beech leaves were the greenest of greens.
One of the problems with this circuit is the kilometre of road walking from Salesbury Hall to Ribchester bridge. The road however was quiet and my attention was directed to the wayside plants. The blooms of the Blackthorn are fading to be replaced by the emerging Hawthorn. Yellow Dandelions and white Dead Nettles covered the verges. Soon I was crossing the elegant bridge which has seen some recent damage from vehicles.
Onwards past the farm and into the riverside woods where flood debris is always piled up, but thankfully someone has been collecting the plastics. Unfortunately the right of way leaves the river, what a shame – if only access could have been obtained all the way back to Dinckley Bridge. I have in the past persisted in trespassing alongside the river but remember it being difficult. On this day in 1932, hundreds of folk marched on the famous Kinder Scout protest, and we are approaching a time when we may need to resist the Tory’s crackdown on our access to land.
I’ve always found navigating the fields here a bit of a challenge and Mark’s directions didn’t really help. The bluebells in the woods at Starling Brook compensated for my previous disappointment. Wild garlic was also showing well, I must pick some for a delicious meal with poached egg.
There are good views of Pendle and the Ribble Valley from these hills. With luck, I arrived at the bridge over Dean Brook, the stream I followed to find Raven Lumb Falls last April.
A steep climb led back to Lambing Clough Lane and into Hurst Green.
As an aside on the way home I spotted another of those evocative slate poems next to St. John’s Church. Poignant thoughts.
Anyone wanting to follow this walk could shorten it by parking at Marles Wood and avoid the loop into Hurst Green.
Today is murky and damp, this morning I’m still in bed reading when the window cleaner appears on his ladder. He comes the first week of each month, and I have to pinch myself that we are into February already. I chat to him, standing in my dressing gown as he moves around the house. He reminds me that one or two of my windows probably need replacing, another job to put on the slow burner of my ‘things to do’.
I tend to go into slow motion in the winter months, particularly at the start of the New Year. Somewhere I have a SAD light, but significantly have not been bothered to use it. Past winters have been shortened by regular trips to sunnier climes, but that is a thing of the past for me in the present pandemic. Even my local walking is curtailed by the persistent plantar fasciitis. I have a list of friends to catchup with, many of them lying low. Parliamentary matters are not helping. Even my annual Big Garden Birdwatch didn’t go to plan. Oh well, it was good that yesterday I had phoned JD and arranged a walk with him to get out of the house and catch up with his news. The last time we were out together was in July last year! There have been several times when his close family have been infected or isolating, touch wood I have steered clear of any forms of Covid.
A simple walk was planned around the Alston area, Preston not Cumbria. The little blue car was parked up on Alston Lane by 11am, it had been raining until then. Off we went along familiar lanes, through farms and down soggy fields, until we were walking alongside the River Ribble. No navigational decisions were needed, so we chatted away the rest of the morning, we share a broad church. A few mallards were spotted on the river, but otherwise any countryside life was keeping a low profile.
Opposite Balderstone Hall is an ancient ford crossing of the river, which JD has completed several times in summer conditions. Yesterday, he was upset that gates leading to the river bank on our side were obstructed and locked. The reason maybe the new development being undertaken here. A large “architecturally designed” property is slowly being completed, no doubt at significant cost. We wondered about the environmental impact of such a design on this rural riverside. Maybe it has already won an award. From there we made our way slowly back up the valley escarpment via rather convoluted field paths, I was trying to avoid the hard roads. In parts, we used the out of favour Ribble Way path and ended up on the wrong side of barbed wire several times. We almost had a Starling murmuration from these trees……but not quite.
JD always makes a good cup of coffee, so I was glad to drive back to his house for the rest of the afternoon. His wife, recovering from a hip operation, probably had walked farther than us on her daily exercise routine around the village.
I had not taken many photographs, due to the dull weather and too much conversation, so for a better impression of the scenery by all means look at a previous walk.
However, a couple of pictures, harbingers of Spring, probably will do more for me than that missing SAD light. Having posted this, it’s time for me to get out of the dressing gown and do something useful this afternoon. I believe in yesterday.
I had been told by Clare, of Slate Poems fame, of another decorated Xmas Tree on the fell. I was up here to find it. Parking was difficult on this fine Sunday afternoon, remember the chaotic parking situation in our earlier lockdowns. The good weather had brought lots of families out at the start of the Christmas Holidays.
Would you believe it? As I walked through the gate onto the fell, I bumped into Clare herself exercising her beautiful Collie.
I normally take the more northerly track overlooking Chipping Vale, I call it the ‘panoramic balcony track’, but there is also a track following markers going straight up the fell leading to boggy terrain, best avoided. Incidently this track goes through the site of some Bronze Age hut circles and burial grounds, I have tried unsuccessfully to locate these on the ground in the past.
This was the way to the decorated tree and the way I followed today. The stone cairn has had an addition of balanced stones, often seen on rocky beaches, I suspect they won’t survive a winter storm. Not far past the cairn is the tree. It was decorated with more environmentally friendly items; fir cones, wooden ornaments and nut strings for the birds. Satisfied with my ‘find’ I continued on through those forementioned bogs to regain the regular track, which does have its own boggy moments.
The other Xmas Tree with its tinsel and Angel topping was passed, and I reached the Trig point. There were good views, but nothing compared to yesterday’s cloud inversion. Circling through the forest, I was surprised at the number of trees that must have come down in our recent storms.
Once looking across the Ribble Valley, Pendle and Samlesbury there was a repeat of the cloud inversion * in a southerly direction.
* Cloud inversions take place when the temperature is warmer higher up – such as on a hill or mountain – than it is down at the bottom of a valley
The colder air at the lower level traps mist and fog creating the impression of mountain summits floating above the clouds.
Storm Arwen had passed through, but there was frost on the ground as I set off for a ride around Preston’s Guild Wheel this sunny morning. I wasn’t expecting to stop very often, but I did capture a few pictures.
In Red Scar Woods above Brockholes Nature Reserve, there was still plenty of Autumn colour.
The River Ribble was lower than I had seen it recently, with plenty of muddy banks on show.
The bridge taking the new Western Distributor road over the Ribble Link Canal is progressing fast.
At last, the Whistlestop Café, next to the canal on the University’s sports grounds, was open again, the first time for months when I’ve been passing. So I had to give them some custom and enjoy a quick morning coffee. That was about it really, I was home for an early lunch just as it started snowing.
Another sunny-day journey with the over-the-hill cyclist.
As I swooped down into Ribchester, at the back of my mind was the thought that later in the day I would have to regain all the height, plus more. The morning was perfect with blue skies and sunshine, and more importantly to me in my new cycling guise – no wind. A pause to look at the River Ribble at Ribchester Bridge and then along the south side of the valley. The Marles Wood car park looked busy with families setting off for a riverside walk. I enjoyed the quiet lanes that eventually wound into Whalley on the banks of the Calder. I’ve always been intrigued by the row of cottages as you enter the village, today whilst I was taking photographs a couple of residents emerged and told me that they had been built as workers accommodation by a nearby hall. They had no explanation as to why there were two levels of access.
Dropping into Ribchester.
The Ribble, at Ribchester Bridge.
Old St. Leonards Church, Langho.
River Calder and that viaduct.
My favourite café in the village was closed, so I just carried on towards Mitton with its three inns, a hall and a medieval church which I’ve mentioned before. A fisherman was casting in the Ribble with proud Pendle in the background.
Medieval church and Mitton Great Hall.
Talking of fishing, the last time I passed this way the Three Fishes was closed but in recent months it has had a makeover and reopened under Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth. He is hoping to make it the best pub restaurant in the area, judging from the prices, I won’t be visiting soon.
The road ahead gave a rather disheartening view of Longridge Fell, my next objective. But first I crossed Lower Hodder Bridge with Cromwell’s Bridge adjacent, you can’t pass it without another photograph. This was the lowest point of the ride and I now had to climb 600 ft back up onto the fell, steady was the word. Once up there, I had a switchback ride all the way back into Longridge and a hot bath to ease my aches.
Kemple End, Longridge Fell.
Longridge beyond the reservoir.
A couple of extras –
Whilst I was climbing up the fell earlier, I had passed the well-known Pinfold Cross. This is what I wrote last time – The Pinfold Cross is a memorial to a former servant at Stonyhurst College and fiddler, James Wells. It was erected in 1834 at Stockbridge after he died in a quarry accident. On the front is inscribed the legend, ‘WATCH, FOR YOU KNOW NOT THE DAY NOR HOUR.’ Above this is written, ‘OFT EVENINGS GLAD MAKE MORNINGS SAD’. On the left is ‘PRAY FOR THE SOUL OF JAMES WELLS’ and on the right, ‘DIED FEB. 12TH, 1834′.
This is one of a series of crosses associated with Stonyhurst College whose grounds I have mainly skirted today. I did pass one of their gates and had time to ponder the school’s sign.I suppose times have changed and most primary schools now have a pre-school section. It is said that it helps children integrate better and prepare them for the learning experience to come. Oh! And it also provides a baby sitting service for busy parents out at work. What stuck me most was the 3-year-old reference. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and I imagined all these little children being abandoned at the school each day, God forbid if they were boarders. I’m sure it is not as bad as that and the toddlers have a great time.
Lily Allen, whom you may not be acquainted with, wrote a song expressing her own child’s anxiety left at home whilst Mum sang around the world. We have to be careful how we nourish our young offspring. Needless to say, I was humming the tune for the rest of the ride. Here is a version of this touching song where she is accompanied by Jules Holland – I’m only three.
Feeling rather despondent after struggling to cycle around Longridge Fell the other day. I had been hoping soon to embark on a multiday cycle tour but now I was full of doubts, what would be my daily mileage. Realistically, I should be able to average 40 miles or more per day in hilly country, but I thought I was falling short of that. I’m getting older and I don’t have a scale to measure myself against, what I could do 30 or even 20 years ago doesn’t apply any more. I’m getting out of my depth.
I eventually stirred myself this morning as the weather brightened — time to test myself. From my house to the top of Jeffrey Hill is a mere 4 miles but is constantly uphill with 700ft of ascent. I aimed to cycle it without a break. Today’s route is in red compared to the circuitous blue of a few days ago.
I started slowly up through Longridge’s burgeoning housing estates. Summoning up some speed to pass the dog walkers, trying to not look out of breath. At the golf club the road was closed for drainage works but I squeezed through to remount and climb triumphantly to the summit of Jeffrey Hill just past the car park. Views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills in one direction, the Three Peaks in the centre and Pendle in the other direction were too hazy for photography. A swoop down to the New Drop, now sold and being converted into apartments, and a right hand turn to follow the undulating road back past Craig Y, Upper Dilworth Reservoir and into town.
Approaching Jeffrey Hill.
Down to the New Drop.
Upper Dilworth Reservoir and The Fylde.
This took me just over an hour and I felt quite pleased with myself, slow but steady. I wouldn’t win any race, but I had proved to myself that my legs and lungs still have it. I’m trying to convince myself that cycling is wonderful. My next ride — that road going the full length of the fell to Birdy Brow and the Hodder. Watch this space, not that it will be very interesting.
Blue skies, sunshine and calm conditions, perfect for a local cycle ride. Longridge Fell is my regular walking ground, but today I was going to circumnavigate it on lanes from Longridge. You will notice my post is titled ‘around’ and not ‘up’, I had no intention of cycling the high road over the fell, there are enough undulations on the planned circuit.
There was a chill in the Autumn air but by the time I arrived in Chipping I was suitably warmed up. The road I took follows the north side of Longridge Fell before dropping to Higher Hodder bridge. A steep little hill up past a once popular inn had me puffing and to be honest I was always a little out of breath on any incline from then on, I’m having difficulty getting cycling fit. Walking is so much more relaxing.
Great Mitton and its Medieval Church are skirted, then the road winds up through the Ribble Valley to Hurst Green. I’d planned a break here as there are seats on the village green. A walker with his Spaniel had bagged the best one, but I ate my banana on an adjacent bench before going over for a chat about all things local, a pleasant diversion.
Back in the saddle, I was soon back into Longridge, feeling rather tired from this modest ride. I had covered 22 miles but had ascended 1600ft in the process, there are no flat roads in the Ribble Valley.
And that’s about it. I didn’t take many photos.
Couldn’t resist another picture of Cromwell’s Bridge over the Hodder.
Hurst Green interlude.
On arrival back home this gigantic corkscrew had arrived on the building site opposite me. Earlier in the year we, the local residents, stopped Barratts, in the guise of homely David Wilson Homes, from disruptive pile driving on this site which is probably unsuitable in the first place for building on due to the shifting sands. They are now having to drill down 30–40 ft to find solid ground, don’t buy a house on Inglewhite Meadow.
Over the years I have posted several reports of cycling The Preston Guild Wheel. The last one was Dec. 2020. Now that I’m back in (enforced) cycling mode it was time for a revisit.
As usual, I park at the Red Scar Industrial Estate and unload my bike thus avoiding the increasingly busy road through Grimsargh. Going anticlockwise, I seem to pass most cyclists coming the other way, all with a cheery hello. There is a new stretch of tarmacked cycleway leading to Durton Lane in amongst new developments, avoiding the traffic on Haighton Lane. From now on it is one new housing development after another, some have been completed since my last visit with others half finished with brave new owners living amongst the mess. Frighteningly, any other available space, green or not, is fenced off ready for the bulldozers. It is all very depressing.
I enter the mature estates of Cottam where the cycleway weaves between houses. As usual, I’m not paying attention and come up against a gate I don’t remember, of course I was lost and had to backtrack to pick up the route. Along here I almost had my first ‘road kill. — a squirrel ran as close to my front wheel as possible without being squashed.
The wrong gate.
On through the University playing fields and out along the Ribble Link Canal. Here are more diversions where the M55 link road is being constructed, it doesn’t seem to have progressed much since my last visit.
I notice men with big camera lenses alongside the dock railway and with a little luck as I cycle the Ribble Embankment along comes a steam train for some extra excitement.
Preston’s Parks whizz by and I’m soon leaving the Ribble into Brockholes Nature Reserve, I didn’t stop to visit the ‘getting to know snakes’ encounter advertised for this afternoon. I’m always glad to get out of the saddle for a while for the push up the steep hill of Red Scar back to the crematorium and my car. But today on a whim I went round again, another 21 miles, albeit more slowly, there are more hills than you realise. I have a secret plan and I need to see if I’m getting cycling fit, the answer is not quite yet.
In my head were the lyrics “round and round and up and down I go again” which I couldn’t place. Once home Google soon unearthed Let’s Twist Again, a big hit for Chubby Checker in 1960.
This is not to be confused with Twist and Shout which became a Beatles hit. They performed it at The Royal Variety Performance in 1963 when famously John Lennon said “For the people in the cheapest seats clap your hands and the rest of you just rattle your jewellery” much to the amusement of the Queen Mum. But I digress.
Thursday, July 15th. 7.5 miles. Knowle Green/Longridge Fell.
10am. As usual, I’m festering in bed with a second coffee and the day is drifting away. The high temperatures ensure I’m not rushing off anywhere. The phone rings and I prepare myself for fending off Amazon Prime or Netflix scams. But no, it is JD enquiring if I’m wasting the day or would I like a walk, 5 or 6 miles up the fell? I say yes to the latter and hurriedly sort myself out to meet him at the top of town. Things have gone quiet since my trips away, I’ve been bouldering up in Sweden Quarry the last few days, where there is shade from the hot sun, but my arms need a rest, so a walk is perfect.
We take the path through Green Banks Quarry housing estate, given planning permission on the understanding that it would be for tourist lets and bring prosperity to Longridge, what a joke. A bridleway goes down to the Written Stone, all familiar territory. We catch up, he’s been away in the Lakes, and I’ve been straight lining it to the North Sea. Our vague plan was to walk field paths above Knowle Green and then maybe climb up onto Longridge Fell.
Coincidentally, one of the last times I was here was with Sir Hugh on that straight line walk I mentioned earlier, back in winter 2019. https://bowlandclimber.com/2019/02/04/sd-38-longridge-to-barrow-whalley/ So I had a ready-made continuation walk on paths not known to JD or to many others, judging from their wildness. The same farmer who appeared from his run down house back in 2019 was eager to chat again today. He was all talk of shearing his sheep tomorrow and how if he penned them in on his cobbled area they would clean the yard of vegetation. There is no money in sheep wool these days. He warned us that the footpath ahead was difficult to follow, but I thought I knew better until we ended up in the wrong field. I did at least find the hidden way across Cowley Brook.
Working our way up pathless fields to Hougher Hall was hot work, the dreaded Horse Flies were a menace. The slate poem by the gate is a lovely reference to swallows, unfortunately there aren’t many about this year.
It was with some relief that we arrived at the open fell by the little reservoir. This where JD pulled out an ace and set his stove up to prepare a decent coffee with biscuits. Luxury. Friends of mine wild swim in this water, but I see that a ‘No Swimming’ notice has been erected since last I was here. Presumably, United Utilities Health and Safety.
Refreshed we continued up onto the fell, looking back the reservoir appeared hazily below.