Tag Archives: Ribble Valley

THE RIVER RIBBLE AT ALSTON.

Friday 8th January.     8.5 miles.      Alston.

I last did this walk in November 2018,a day in late Autumn.  There is probably not a lot more to say about it, but here goes.

In a chance comment a couple of days ago on walking locally I mentioned that I was missing having water close by. No sooner said, than I had the map out to find a circular from home incorporating a stretch along the River Ribble. It is still freezing hard but the overnight snow never appeared.

I strolled along slippery lanes and farm tracks to reach open country.  The fields were badly rutted from bovine hooves, one second frozen the next and my foot was deep in mud. At least the beasts were in their winter quarters, I’ve had a few scary moments with excitable charging cows this year. The footpath steepened into a little valley and then onto a lane at the bottom. I met a few dog walkers I knew but otherwise I didn’t see anybody for most of the day.

The walk changes character here as it comes alongside the River Ribble to follow it full circle around the flat peninsular flood plain. There were a few ducks and I saw a cormorant take off and fly overhead but otherwise all was silent. Even the river flowed quietly and slowly by, looking black and ominous. I reached the shallow weir, possibly an old ford, where the water quickened its pace and danced along out of sight. This is where my waterside walk ended, and I took to the roads for the way back to Longridge.

The day had been rather grey and overcast with no distant views, but I thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery.

*****

SOME RIBCHESTER LANES.

                                   Icy weather.

Wednesday 6th January.     6.75 miles.      Ribchester.

As I write this the news is as depressing as I’ve known for a long time. Over a thousand deaths in UK from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours and in Washington, USA, Trump attempting to be a dictator by inciting protestors at the Capitol Building.

That’s a shame as it has been a lovely sunny day, and we enjoyed a wander around the quiet roads on the south side of Longridge Fell – one of my local ‘lanes’ walks.

Mike and I met in the empty icy car park of Ribchester Arms which of course is closed. At the start we diverted to have a look at the Stydd Almshouses and the medieval chapel. I have written about these in detail before. Basically we then  walked up Stoneygate Lane onto the fell, along a bit and then back down again on Gallows Lane.  On the way we passed residences old and new reflecting the wealth that must be present in the Ribble Valley.

The Newdrop Inn, for sale.

Huntington Hall. Early C17th.

Dutton Hall.   Early C17th.

Early C20th.

 

More modest late C17th Lower Dutton Cottages.

An unknown old chapel.

On the way we came across this witch who had crash-landed.

‘Don’t drink and fly’

Another spectacular sunset ended the afternoon.

*****

DOWNHAM DIVERSIONS.

Tuesday 22nd December,      7 miles.      Downham.

Today was one of those days; not a drop of wind, easy walking and hardly anybody about. I seemed in a trance as I wandered around a familiar easy circuit. Hands in pockets walking. I was alert to birdsong and the tinkling of the becks coming off Pendle Hill.  No planes disturbed the sky. This is excellent Lancashire limestone country, and I was in no rush to pass through it, in fact I was happy to wander at will in search of new discoveries. Time stood still in this bygone landscape while the sun shone but slowly the day turned to grey.

This moody Eagle track was in my head all day, as my grandchildren would say ‘I was in the zone’

 I had parked in Worston, which is much quieter than Downham, wandered up to the splendidly isolated Little Mearley Hall and then along the northern base of a generally misty Pendle linking a series of farms. The approach to Downham via the little beck was a delight, and I looked around the village even having enough time to go up to the top road to find the C18 milestone and further on the boundary stone hidden in the wall. [but I missed ‘The Great Stone of Downham’ also in this wall] A new path has been provided here to avoid the traffic. My way back was past Worsaw End farm made famous in Whistle Down The Wind starring Hayley Mills and Alan Bates. Prominent above is Worsaw Hill, one of the many Reef Knolls in the area. On a whim I decided to climb to its summit, never having done so before. I was rewarded with good views of the Ribble Valley towards Kemple End and a birds eye view of Downham. All was quiet back in Worston. I wonder how long it will be before we are in full lockdown?

Little Mearley Hall.

Hookcliffe.

Clay House Farm.

Approaching Downham. 

A slow wander around Downham…

Village Stocks.

‘To Colne 9 Miles To Gisburn 4 Miles To Clitheroe 3 Miles’

 

Boundary stone.

Downham Hall home of the Asshetons.

Lower Hall and Church.

Heading back to Worston…

Reef knoll country.

‘Whistling down the wind’

The ‘summit’ with Pendle in the background.

Downham.

A hazy Ribble Valley.  

Worsaw Hill. 221 m

*****

*****

May I take this opportunity to wish any readers out there the best seasonal greetings.

                                          A Lancashire Reindeer.

 

 

RADHOLME and BROWSHOLME.

Tuesday,  10th November.   6.5 miles.  Browsholme.

My road to Whitewell was closed, so I hurriedly chose another route. I was on the way to complete another interesting looking walk from my bumper book of Bowland Walks by Jack Keighley. I found a different parking spot on the circuit which also meant I avoided some unnecessary climbing in and out of Whitewell. There was no reason to include Whitewell as I’m already well acquainted with it. It was nearly 12noon when I set off across the fields where there are some limestone craglets  and an old limekiln. When my children were small we used to come here for a scramble about. The views of the Bowland hills are not so good today.

The first farm was Radholme Laund. I got chatting to the farmer in the yard, and he told me that at one time Matthew Brown breweries leased it and spread their brewing wastes on the land. Matthew Brown started in Preston in 1830 and moved to Blackburn in 1927. In 1984, they acquired Theakston but were eventually bought out in 1991 by Scottish and Newcastle. I well remember their Lyon Ales and many local pubs were tied to them. Radholme goes back to the Domesday Book and was originally a hunting lodge, Laund usually denotes a deer park.  A large area of Bowland was set aside for deer hunting until farming took over in the C16-17th. The present house was built in the C19th and has an impressive southern facade.

Boggy fields took me down past woods which had lost most of their leaves. Longridge Fell was always in the background. The cattle are now all in their winter quarters [the best place for them did I hear you say?] at Higher Lees Farm.  Then I was in and out of a stream before coming out onto the familiar road at Middle Lees. I crossed the course of the Roman Road and followed the farm lane to the cluster of houses at Lees House. I already knew the awkward path going steeply down to a hidden footbridge over Mill Brook and then steeply up the rough ground on the other side where I disturbed pheasants galore. Sheep pastures were climbed to the barking dogs of Micklehurst. I met the farmer who talked of  Covid-19 and the fate of local pubs. Most of these hill farmers must live an isolated life and yet are happy, nay keen to engage in topical conversations  I missed the path further on and ended up with more road walking than necessary. Until now the day had been bright but I seemed to enter low mist and drizzle and yet behind me Longridge Fell and the Ribble valley were in brightness.

I entered the drive of Browsholme Hall by its elaborate gatehouse but saw nothing of the Jacobean house still occupied by the Parker family who were the ancestral owners since 1507. Most of the land I’ve been walking on today at one time was part of their estate.  I’ve added a photo of the hall courtesy of visitlancashire.com As I made my way went up the fields Pendle came into view, I was heading towards the prominent Browsholme Spire. It is said that its castellated folly was built as a landmark for shooters on the nearby rough fells. It has been adorned with satellite communication dishes in recent years no doubt earning rent from telephone companies. A case of selling one’s soul. On a good day up here the Yorkshire fells are seen but today it was just the rather murky local Bowland Hills. At the bottom of the hill in the trees a sulphur spa is marked on the map, so I searched it out but was disappointed  to find only a boggy spring with the water only faintly tasting of sulphur.

Crossing over that Roman Road once more I took the lane to Crimpton with its seven hand loom upper windows. After the reformation a wooden image of Our Lady Of White Well was brought to the isolated Crimpton for safety. Hence, the farm was well known to Roman Catholics as ‘Our Lady Of The Fells’. I found a seat for a snack looking out over Birkett Fell with Mellor Knoll and the Bowland Hills behind. I knew the next stretch through the forest was muddy and awkward but I couldn’t believe my eyes, most of the trees had been cut down and a machine was clearing up. The operator was able to grab a tree trunk in the machine’s claws, whizz it through stripping the branches and then cut it to length and place in a pile. Unbelievable – lift, strip, chop all in one go.

The day was getting on with all these distractions and I wanted to search out some caves in the limestone on the way back to my car. First was Hell Hole in a fenced off copse. There seemed to be two dangerous open deep shafts and a low cave entrance all connected to the same stream system.

Further on over more barbed wire was Whitewell Cave at the base of a rocky outcrop, a small stream disappeared underground leaving a dry cave entrance that would worth a crawl with a torch. There is another pothole down the road but that will have to wait for some other time.

By now it was almost dark, there was no sunset just a little light out to the coast, but I had only a short distance to go up the road.

Another shortish walk with plenty of new interest for me. I’ve just realised I never saw another walker – a perfect lockdown walk.

 

*****

ANOTHER HURST GREEN CIRCULAR.

Monday 9th November.  4.75 miles.    Stonyhurst.

In the current Lockdown one is able to meet one other person outside and travel a reasonable distance for exercise. So today I phone Mike and suggest meeting him up on Longridge Fell, I have a circuit in mind that will avoid squelchy fields and take us on some unknown lanes thus fulfilling one of my Lockdown commitments to find something new on each outing.  For Mike’s sake, he lost his wife to Dementia 2 months ago, it might have been better to have a jolly party of friends along, but we live in strange times so today it has to be me. We manage to park on the crowded lane, who would ever have thought that parking up here would become a problem. I chat away as we wander the quiet lanes down to Stonyhurst. Familiar landmarks are passed – the Pinfold Cross, Chapel, the college ponds, the long drive, Cromwell’s stone, the Virgin Mary statue,  graveyard, the Almshouses, the Bailey Arms [closed]. I’ve illustrated and written about all these many times.

Cromwell’s Stone.

Instead of our usual route up the Dean Brook valley we followed the lane down to Dean Bridge deep in the gorge almost under the rest of Hurst Green. I’m sure some houses down here must have been mills long ago. A steep pull up Shire Lane, some expensive looking houses in Ribble Valley’s executive belt, I’m only a little envious., Then a very pleasant  section of hedged track to the late C17th hunting lodge of Greengore. I have photographed the North and East sides many times but today I have lifted a  photo from the internet of the hidden south side.

The south aspect.

We were soon back at the cars just as the clouds gathered and it started raining for the rest of the afternoon. Just another rather sad day.

*****

TO CATCH A SALMON.

Friday November 6th.  5 miles.  Hodder and Ribble.

A chance conversation with JD reminded me that at this time of year the salmon are heading up river to spawn. Every year I promise myself to witness this wonder of nature and each year I forget and miss the spectacle. So today I set off to try and see what is happening on the River Hodder. We are going to be walking locally for the foreseeable future and I’m going to try and find somewhere or something new for each walk I do. Today was salmon.

I walked along the road to Hodder Place, originally a preparatory school for Stonyhurst but now accommodation flats in a great situation.

I dropped to the bathing places used by the college in the distant past. This is a delightful stretch of the Hodder with several natural rocky weirs and pools. I sat at one for half an hour without seeing a fish. I was becoming hypnotised watching the water flowing over the rocks.

Moving on I walked downstream to the water measuring weir, but again no luck.

I continued down to Lower Hodder bridge next to Cromwell’s Bridge, yet another picture.

There is no way along the river here  so you are forced up the road but looking back is a wonderful vista of the river and bridges.

Then it is into soggy fields to walk through Winkley Hall grounds to meet up with the next stretch of river just before it joins the Ribble. There is an ancient oak along here which I always stop and stare at, yet another picture.

I  knew of a fisherman’s hut and bench where I rested for a while now looking over the Hodder joining the Ribble.

The Hodder joins the Ribble.

There was a steady stream of people walking ‘The Tolkien Trail’ and coming towards me a lone jogger who turned out to be an old friend, Nige, I hadn’t seen for a while. We had a good half hour’s chat. He is a fit guy but told me of him catching the Covid-19 virus a few weeks ago and thinking he was going to die. A cautionary tale for those doubters.

Off he goes.

Next the River Calder slides in to join the Ribble opposite Hacking Hall. I came down the piece of land dividing the two in February when the rivers were in flood. It was here that the Hacking ferry originally operated and the ferryman’s house, now enlarged, is close by.

The Calder joins the Ribble.

Onwards and there was a new metal seat, dedicated to a young lady, opposite Jumble’s weir, so I sat awhile but again there were no signs of any salmon.

I left the river as it trundled down to Dinkley and found a new, to me, lane back towards my car. Hidden industrial units with multiple post boxes and more of those glamping pods which are cropping up all over the countryside with little or no obvious planning regulations. Did I mention Tolkien?  Don’t get me grumpy.

Pendle Hill looks good from any angle.

I’m going to have a word with a fisherman friend of mine to ask about the best place/time to see the salmon leaping. But today certainly hasn’t been wasted.

*****

A BIT OF COUNTRYSIDE NORTH OF BOLTON BY BOWLAND.

I had to check the map this morning to ensure I wasn’t straying out of Lancashire on today’s walk, we are in Covid-19 Tier 3 after all. An extra mile and I would have been in Yorkshire but I don’t think anyone would have known.

Another route out of Jack Keighley’s Bowland walking guide taking me into the farmlands north of Bowland-by-Bowland. I have walked from B-by-B many times but this route promised some good riverside tracks unknown to me and probably unknown to any as I discovered.

After my recent rather long-winded posts I hope this will be more concise, it all depends on what I find.

There is a little car park in the village next to the bridge and surprisingly I was the first in this morning. I went south for a short while towards Sawley passing a sandstone cross base isolated in a field, I’m not far from Sawley Abbey. The last time I approached Bolton Peel from a different direction I had to ford the beck, so I was a little apprehensive of what I would face today after heavy rain. To my delight there was a footbridge alongside the ford, and I was soon up to the road at Bolton Peel. This is a sturdy C17th farmhouse with a preaching cross in front of it. From the original Peel family came Sir Robert Peel, he of police fame. There was nobody about this morning, so I had a sneaky peek into the adjacent barn with its cruck roof beams.

Now heading north I used a path by a lively beck into the little hamlet of Holden. There were some impressive waterfalls deep in the gorge. I have been visiting Holden Clough Nursery for years but now in younger hands it has become a thriving garden centre. Plants are still at the heart of the business, but they run a café and shop which I hoped would be open.  On with my mask and through the gift shop, I got their first brew of the day. The first time I’ve been in a café for 7 months – maybe the last.

Across the road is the exquisite Broxup House.

I knew the next stretch from a previous walk. It starts through the narrowest of gaps.  I was soon passing the C17th Hungril Farm and its posh barn conversion neighbour.

The next farm along was equally expensively renovated and yet round the back was the ubiquitous rubbish ‘waiting for Godot’

Muddy fields took me higher to the road at Broad Ing. Up here was expansive rolling farming lands with views to Pendle [in cloud] and Weets Hill. My heading photo depicts the scene and if you click to enlarge and look closely flocks of Lapwings or Redwings, perhaps both, can be made out above the trees. They were a common sight today.

Climbing higher I arrived in the farmyard of Wittons where a few waymarks wouldn’t have gone amiss. I blundered on into the next valley where some delicate barbed wire climbing was needed on the steep pull up to an old barn. Round the corner was an arrow pointing down a better route, one at the bottom pointing up would have been useful.

From Lower Flass my guide [admittedly 25years old] describes a permissive path alongside Monubent Beck, just follow the ‘white arrows’. A Right of Way took me down to a footbridge and it then climbed the hillside away from the beck. The permissive path was nowhere to be seen, so I just set off close to the water imagining I was on a track. A stile appeared and the odd footbridge but in between was jungle. It was obvious that nobody comes this way any more, there were certainly no white arrows. I was more concerned I might get shot if there was a pheasant shoot on. A bonus was that I glimpsed several roe deer running off through the trees. Every time I came to a stile I was emboldened to go further.

Eventually after this interesting trespassing section I came out the far end onto a road which I recognised from our cut through way to Settle and the limestone crags. By the bridge the Monubent Beck joined into Skirden Beck. This group of houses around the bridge is called Forest Becks and on foot I was able to see them better than when driving through. A lot of them have had recent facelifts.

A little further on the road I also Had a closer look at Stoop Lane house, 1703.

A familiar path above Skirden Beck led me straight back to my car at the bridge. I didn’t explore the village of B-by-B as I have covered it in a previous post.

*****

A CIRCUIT OF PENDLE HILL VISITING A HIDDEN WELL.

                                                                              Evening light on Pendle.

As I lazed away this morning reading I came across a comment about Fox’s well on Pendle Hill.

George Fox was born in 1624 and was in his 20s by the time of the civil wars between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. This was also a time of questioning the established religious ideas. Fox was travelling the country preaching an alternative simpler Christian message. By the 1650s he was in Northern England and in 1652 according to his journal…

“As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high”                                    “When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered”                                                   “As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before”

Hence, the name, Fox’s Well, in memory of his visit. He went on to found The Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Many parts of the North became Quaker strongholds and because of his vision Pendle Hill became a special place for Quakers.

*****

Well no time to lose.                                                                                                                                 The sun was shining but it was already 11am, I’m slow to get going these days.                          The well is not marked on the OS maps but I had a grid reference SD 80494200, I must have walked past it on my last visit here.                                                                                                          As I drove across I was planning a route in  my head, park in Barley and walk the hill on its steep side, the Big End. Coming down the road that cuts across the east side of Pendle I was astonished to see a line of parked cars stretching for half a mile, negotiating past them wasn’t easy.  Things were even worse in the village with the car park full to overflowing and lots of desperate drivers cruising about. So this is a Covid-19 day out for half of Lancashire. I curse myself – I shouldn’t have come to a honeypot on a Sunday.

Just as I’m thinking of going elsewhere I remember a safe and legal pull in on the road perfect for my little car. So Just after mid-day I’m walking back up the hill past all those badly parked cars. I then join the crowds along to Pendle House and then up the steep stepped path. Not really my idea of a day’s fell walking but I have an objective so it’s a matter of head down and grin and bear it.

As if by magic as soon as I cross the stile at the far end the masses disappear, they are on the way to the crowded Trig point which I can happily miss today. I pick up the track heading down the north side and before long I can hear running water. It becomes a gushing sound and there on the hillside is flowing water from a spring. Just above is the metal cover of the well and lo and behold when I lift it  there is the goblet to fill with the clearest of water to quench my thirst. The best water in Lancashire it is said, I wouldn’t disagree.

Feeling pleased with myself I ponder my onward journey. I have no intention of joining the masses on the summit, so I pick up a traversing path going west. This takes me to a stone shelter on the edge of the northern escarpment where I’d planned a lunch stop. Perfect. As I’m finishing a youthful foursome from Liverpool arrive. I share the seating with them and enjoy their banter. Onwards to the Scouting Cairn and then I decide to go over Spence Moor, Pendle’s little brother. I forgot to mention that the views are outstanding today in all directions. I have a birds eye view of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley. Over towards Longridge Fell and Bowland parapenters are circling. The Three Peaks, Skipton and East Lanc’s hills, Winter Hill and the distant Welsh mountains complete the panorama.

I’m surprised to find a recently improved track heading my direction, probably coming from The Nick of Pendle. Reluctantly I soon have to leave it to maintain height to Spence Moor. There is nobody about and on the rough pathless ground I put up grouse, snipes and skylarks.

On the way across boggy ground I come across a sheep on its back – riggwelted.           Riggwelter takes its name from Yorkshire dialect with Nordic roots; “rygg” meaning back, and “velte” meaning to overturn. A sheep is said to be rigged or ‘riggwelted’ when it has rolled onto its back and is unable to get back up without assistance. You can experience the same by drinking a few pints of Black Sheep Brewery’s Riggwelter beer. Anyhow, I came to the rescue of this girl although she didn’t seem very appreciative.

There are no markers to announce my arrival at the rounded summit of Spence Moor. A little further and I pick up a soggy path going east. Down to my right are the East Lancs towns of Nelson and Colne. While over to the left is a different view of Pendle, my steep ascent path is clearly seen on the right.

I decided, perhaps wrongly, to drop steeply down to the two Ogden reservoirs, it would have been better in retrospect to have carried on high towards Newchurch.

A tarmacked lane descended to Barley Green where there has been a tasteful conversion of old Nelson Waterboard 1930 buildings to living accommodation. And then I was back into Blackpool, err no,  sorry – Barley. There were no-parking signs everywhere and I can only imagine the hassle that the locals have had during this strange pandemic when the world and his dog have to go walking. Normally this is a pleasant village to wander through.

I’ll come on a weekday in the future.

 

*****

 

 

 

EASINGTON AND HARROP.

                                                                             Misty Easington Fell.

Two places hidden away in Bowland. I’ve driven through Easington but don’t remember end of the road Harrop Fold.

I planned to include Easington Fell into the round so I parked up at the top of the Waddington Fell road. I was the only car there on a misty morning and I hoped visibility would improve – it didn’t.

By the road side up here is Walloper Well.    Jessica Lofthouse (1976) described the place.

In the days of horse and pedestrian traffic none passed Walloper Well without stopping  to ‘quaff the clear crystal.’  Long ago, hill men, hunters, forest wardens and farmers off to Clitheroe markets and fairs, pedlars, lead miners from the nearby workings, all met here.  The name is thought-provoking. Why Walloper? From a word meaning a ‘fresh bubbling spring’, which this is, fresh from the moorside into stone troughs.  Age, wartime army practice and vandalism of 1974 made renewal of the trough necessary, but the flow has been constant.  One must drink, just as one throws pennies into the Roman fountain, to ensure one comes back again.”

So nothing to do with the frequently told story [very nonPC]  about the old man and his wife

Today there is no flowing water, I don’t know if this is the permanent situation.

After that disappointment I set off across the fell and immediately lost the path, if there ever was one. The ground was rough, what I call reedy walking, and you never knew if your feet would hit land or water.

Haircap Moss.

Persistence paid off and I spotted a cairn from where vague trods aimed to the barn shown on the map. From the hillside I could just make out Newton-in-Bowland, Easington and Dunnow Hall.

I was now on pleasant grasslands though this meant a herd of cows with accompanying bull. I was rather circumspect as was he. A teacher has just been killed near Richmond by cows.

Anyhow I arrived in to Easington unscathed and had time to look at the four dwellings making up the hamlet. The most interesting appeared to be the Manor House.

The Manor House.

I now followed the diminutive Easington Brook for a mile or so passing Broadhead Farm to Harrop Hall. On my approach to the latter the farmer shooed his herd of cows plus a large bull across the field for me to pass, a service I don’t normally receive. I realised at the remote Hall that I had visited before with a friend from Grindleton maybe 40 years ago to collect two kittens, Bonnie and Barnie I subsequently christened them. They were an adventurous pair climbing in through upper windows of my house and even venturing to the pub on the corner where customers fed them and returned them at closing time.

Harrop Hall.

Harrop Lodge was next, another building with interesting features including a Venetian window in the gable end and other bits of architecture.

Barn window.

Wall niche.

This stone footbridge took me into the wrong field from which it was difficult to extricate myself.At Harrop Gate I came out onto a little road through an isolated metal kissing gate.

200 yards up this road was Harrop Chapel with benches outside for my lunch stop. The chapel was built in the early 1820’s and has been in continual use since. It ceased to be Methodist in 1969 and now holds Evangelical services.

Refreshed I strolled up the road to the hamlet of Harrop Fold, only half a dozen neat dwellings. Of particular note is a large white house , an original C17th Lancashire Longhouse which provided accommodation for the family at one end and the livestock at the other. On the other side is the Manor House of a similar age.

So far the walking had been very rural but now I headed back up the fell past a barn and into Grindleton Fell Forest where my troubles started. The paths didn’t go where I thought they should and didn’t correspond to my map.  The trees limited visibility and the mist descended. I walked in many directions without finding my intended onward route. I was glad to hit upon a track heading out of the forest to join a lane prominent on the map. It was now easy to follow across the fell until I came out onto open moor once more. Up here the views back down to the Ribble Valley must be stunning on a clear day. Ahead of me was the vague outline of Waddington Fell with its mast acting as a beacon to aim for. By now it was cold and damp and I was glad to reach my car. I’d clocked up 10 miles.

Not many of you will have explored Harrop – ‘the valley of the hare’

*****

A STONYHURST CROSSES WALK.

FOUR NINE CROSSES AND A  STONE.

I have read of four old crosses at different locations around the Stonyhurst estate and have come across them on local walks. Apparently, pupils from the school used to visit each cross in an annual pilgrimage on Palm Sunday. I was keen to know more and maybe link the crosses myself. I phoned a recently retired Stonyhurst schoolmaster who was interested in the history of the school but he knew nothing of the four crosses’ pilgrimage. As it is now the summer holidays there is nobody at the school to ask further.

Internet searching gave me this –  “In the countryside around Stonyhurst, 4 crosses are situated, and on 16th March 2008 (Palm Sunday), a pilgrimage was made from the College to all of them.  This entailed a 5-mile walk that completely encircled the College, and showed off the wonderful countryside in a dramatic way.  It is hoped to repeat the same next year, and even make it an annual event. Fr John Twist, Stonyhurst College Chaplain, led the group on an attractive circular walk,”

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′.

Cross Gills Farm Cross is thought to have come from a church. An old wives’ tale records how a farmer had to replace the cross when his cattle died after he had thrown the original into the river.

Stonyhurst Park Cross stands above the River Hodder in the woods close to the former Jesuit preparatory school, Hodder Place. A new cross was fixed to the ancient base in 1910, and was blessed on 12 June 1910 by the Jesuit provincial, Father Sykes; the origin of the base is unknown.

Saint Paulinus Cross stands at Kemple End on Longridge Fell and is a listed monument believed to date from Anglo-Saxon times. It may well mark a spot at which Saint Paulinus of York preached.

 

Left to my own devices I started to plot a route but I came up with four more crosses on the 1:25,000 map.

One in a plantation high on the Stonyhurst estate  I can find no information except it first appeared on maps in 1910. I went to look for it in early June.

Another on the village green In Hurst Green itself is Grade II listed – ‘The cross was possibly restored in the 19th century. It is in sandstone and has a base of three square steps. On the cross head is a roughly punched trefoil shape.’  Also on the village green are two more modern crosses, one for the Boer War and the other WW I & II.

*****

This last Saturday was set fair and I was free in the afternoon to walk around the Stonyhurst estate visiting the now eight crosses. Parking during Covid19 has been difficult in popular walking areas and when I arrived Hurst Green was just about full. My start was delayed talking to a local resident about all things viral and the latest village gossip.

First stop was the village green where there the two obvious large modern crosses stand. The WW one on a roundabout and the Boer War memorial, Celtic design, on the green.   But I could find no sign of the Grade II listed one on the west side of the green I even investigated the rockery stones of an adjacent garden.    So that was a bad start, two out of three.

WW Memorial. Three-sided – Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley.

Commemorates the services of Frederick Sleigh, first Earl Roberts KVCO, and his companions in arms, the Soldiers and Sailors of the Empire, who fought in South Africa 1899-1902

.

I crossed the road by the Shireburn Alms to locate a field path dropping down to the River Ribble and there at the gate was yet another ‘slate poem’ this time a simple one.

Green fields led down to the Ribble close to where an aqueduct crosses over. There were several groups of walkers coming along the banks almost at the end of their Tolkien Trail.

I was heading upstream to find a path branching up towards a conical hill with a cross clearly seen on its top. This is the Cross Gills Cross. Unfortunately, the field it was in was surrounded by an electrified fence with the public right of way on the wrong side. A bit of crawling had me through. [I’m sure if you ask permission at Cross Gills Farm up the lane they would allow you access] The carved base of the cross looks much older than the rest which corresponds to its history. There were great views of Pendle from up here. Having crossed the main road tracks wound into the immaculate cricket ground of the college with its C19th brick pavilion. I skirt the college by Hall Barn, Gardener’s Cottage and Woodfields to enter open countryside.

The path enters the Over Hacking Woods and descends steep steps to the River Hodder. Near here are the ruins of bathing sheds used by the boys when swimming in the river in days gone by.

By the little stone bridge over a side stream I notice the base of a cross close to the river, this is not the Park Cross I was expecting. It is not marked on the modern 1:25,000 map but I later find is shown on the 1894 edition. So I now have a 9th cross of unknown origin.

The path climbs again and at the top of the steps, I see the Park Cross.

Onwards through the woods with occasional glimpses of the Hodder. I have to pay attention as I’m looking for a side path leading up to Rydding’s Farm, it is not marked but I climb the hillside to a stile on the skyline. A good place to rest with a drink and snack. Whilst perched up here in the field below a man is training his black retriever to fetch. He has some sort of gun that goes off with a loud bang and shoots out a plastic ‘ball’ a considerable distance. The dog had no difficulty retrieving with a few whistle prompts from his master. All this no doubt trying to simulate a shot pheasant.

I now have to climb further towards Kemple End for the next cross. The footpath near the top enters an enclosure but fortunately  I can go round the end of the wall into the field where the Paulinus Cross is found. It is a strange shaped weathered cross sitting in a large base. Legend says that St, Paulinus preached here during his Christian mission to Northern England around 619 – 633 AD. It is certainly a commanding situation with views over the Ribble Valley and further afield.

I was soon on the Old Clitheroe Road which with virtually no traffic was pleasant to walk along on the side of Longridge Fell passing some interesting properties on the way.

On a previous recce to the next cross, I’d ended up in the replanted forest which was extremely difficult to walk through. I’d spotted a short cut across a field avoiding the worst. Tonight the field was full of cows with their calves, I hesitated at the gate but reckoned I could go round the herd without disturbing them. It was only when I was halfway across I spotted the bull in amongst his ladies. I was quickly over the wall into the woods and only 100 yds to the hidden cross on its hillock. I wouldn’t think anybody has been here since my last visit. Somebody must know something of its history.

My escape track from last time was virtually obliterated by tall bracken and if I hadn’t known it was there I would have had problems. The track appeared and took me out – as far as the ford over the stream, last time I hopped across dry footed but today it was in flood. I spotted a nearby log bridge but that took some nerve and concentration to commit to its slippery surface.

I emerged back onto the bridleway near the distinctive Greengore, a previous hunting lodge.

The little footpath into the woods is easy to miss. The path drops down to that stream again but this time there is a sturdy bridge.

The way now goes past Higher Deer House another reminder of Stonyhursts past, today there were only cattle in the park. Notice the evening light.

This little chap needed a helping hand to escape the grid –

The farm lane brought me onto the road close to my next cross, the prominent Pinfold Cross with its thoughtful inscriptions.

I was on the home leg now, down the lane to Stonyhurst College lakes and up the long drag to the Virgin Mary Statue. At the top I noticed, I think for the first time, Cromwell’s Stone. According to tradition, Cromwell, on the way to the Battle of Preston in 1648 stood on this stone and described the mansion ahead of him as “the finest half-house in England” as at that time the building was incomplete. For more legends and history of Stonyhurst, this site is worth a read –  https://lancashirepast.com/2018/03/11/stonyhurst-hall-and-college/

Cromwell’s Stone.

Hurst Green had returned to its peaceful self when I arrived back at my car about 7pm. I’d had a good 9-mile walk in grand Lancashire countryside, visited 8 crosses and a stone but it was still niggling me that I couldn’t find the listed cross on the green. As I drove away I spotted a lady tidying her rockery adjoining the green. An opportunity I couldn’t miss. Parked up I enquired of her about the cross. She was a little reticent at first but once I’d explained my pilgrimage she volunteered the fact that the cross was inside her neighbour’s garden and no they didn’t want people wandering in. We passed the time of day and as I was about to go she kindly said I could just about see it from her garden. And there was the Grade II Listed Cross hidden behind an Acer, a short cross on a large base.    Can you see it?

 

*****

*****

OS GRID REFERENCES.

WWI/II Memorial.                      SD 6853 3792

Boer War Memorial.                  SD 6851 3793

Listed Cross.                                SD 6843 3791

Cross Gills Cross.                        SD 6955 3785

Cross base by the Hodder.        SD 6998 3999

Park Cross.                                   SD 6988 3998

Paulinus Cross.                            SD 6864 4044

Hidden Cross.                              SD 6717 3986

Pinfold Cross.                              SD 6825 3980

Cromwell’s Stone.                       SD 6834 3854

 

A BIT OF DUTTON.

Dutton, like Mitton, is a scattered community, a few houses here and there. It is bounded on the south by the River Ribble and stretches high up onto Longridge Fell.

This evening, recently the days have been showery but the evenings sunny, I wanted to explore again the gorge-like Duddel Brook which runs through the middle of Dutton. Since I was last here I have read a little more and found some old maps of the area necessitating another visit to examine the Dutton mill remains. On one map it is labelled as a Bone MIll which suggests to me grinding bones to manufacture bone meal but another source implies a combing mill, comb as in cotton spinning rather than hair care. Perhaps it was both at different periods. Whatever, there is a weir, a mill race or leat, a millpond and a wheelhouse to be discovered.

OS 1892

My path through fields is clear and soon I enter the wooded valley and come across the wheelhouse. Above is a large mill pond partially silted in. From there I can trace a mill race above the stream to a weir where the water was diverted. All very plain to see.

Wheel House

Wheel House.

Wheel pit.

Millpond.

Mill race.

Mill race.

Mill race.

Weir.

Weir and start of the race.

My way onwards up the valley crossed a footbridge and climbed high on the western bank before dropping back down near a waterfall where the water was forded, there were no stepping stones. All very delightful.

Back out in open fields hares dashed away in front of me. I came out onto the main road near the junction with Gallows Lane. One of the ‘slate poems’ that have appeared during lockdown was propped up here.

I crossed the road to a driveway and followed it down past the barking dog at Grindlestone [grind stone] Farm. The track was bordered by an old iron railing usually the sign of an estate boundary. If I had continued I would have come onto the Ribble Way into Hurst Green but I turned off at an unsigned and apparently little used bridleway.

From up here, there were views down to the River Ribble at Sales Wheel. I found it difficult to find the way through the copses but then picked up white markers taking me to the Ribble through Dewhurst Farm with its piles of logs for firewood.

A nice little path through meadows brought me out onto Gallows Lane near those picturesque cottages of Lower Dutton. The origin of the name of the lane possibly goes back to the days when serious miscreants were tried at the town courthouse in the White Bull, Ribchester, and taken to gallows at the upper end of the lane, A sobering thought for maybe stealing a sheep.

*****

The red arrow marks the mill.

THE RIBBLE BETWEEN MITTON AND CLITHEROE.

The clock on the tower of Mitton Church says 4.30. I’m glad I’ve delayed my departure until the sun has come out leaving a beautiful evening for my walk.

I’ve walked the East bank of the Ribble up to Clitheroe several times, it is on the Ribble Way.  I’ve often contemplated walking back down the other side. The problem was there didn’t appear to be a public footpath going south from Edisford Bridge which would mean walking some distance on a busy road.  A closer look at the 1:25,000, however, showed a black dotted field path on that section so maybe there was a way. Time to find out.

Mitton is a rather amorphous district of scattered farms and houses, Great and Little Mitton are separated by the Ribble just north of where the Hodder joins.  Mythe in Old English means the joining of two rivers. The Shireburn family of Stonyhurst were the principal lords.

 All Hallows Church where I parked is in Great Mitton and has C13th origins with a C15th tower. Today it was closed [Covid precautions] so I was unable to visit the interior famous for its Shireburn tombs and wooden artefacts from nearby monasteries. So instead I wandered around the graveyard coming across the sundial dated 1683 and an unusual cross with an ancient C14th rounded head featuring crucifixion carvings. From the graveyard is a lovely view down to the Ribble with proud Pendle Hill in the background.


Neighbouring the church is C16th Great Mitton Hall now smartly renovated with classy gardens visible over the wall. This is not to be confused with Mitton Hall, now a wedding venue, down the road in Little Mitton. The Three Fishes pub opposite the church has been closed for some time now.

I crossed over the Ribble on Mitton Bridge, another classic view of river and hill in heading photo, to reach the temporarily closed Aspinall Arms. This was once a coaching inn known as the Mitton Boat. A ferry boat operated across the River Ribble before the present road bridge was built in the C19th. This was the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire before the reorganisation.

A signed path goes down the side of the inn into fields alongside the River Ribble. There is quite a high banking along here and sand martins were in evidence swooping low over the water ‘chattering’ as they fly past. After a short way, a rather elegant aqueduct crosses the river, the pipes carrying water from Haweswater in the Lakes to Manchester.

A farm road is reached and followed almost to Clitheroe. Taking this photo I managed to get an electric shock from the unseen live wire I was bending over! A calf was brand new in a field and there were new countryside signs on display.

A riverside path continues to Edisford Bridge. It was along here the last time I passed that I had a wonderful view of a Kingfisher. No such luck today as the river is running very fast from all the rain we have endured. The campsite hidden in the trees was packed with people taking advantage of the easing of coronavirus lockdown.

I sat by Edisford Bridge for a drink taking in the scenery. This is a place where there was a ford before the present bridge was constructed, although it goes back to Medieval times. I crossed the bridge and found there was the start of a path going downstream although it wasn’t signed. A muddy section led to a gate into woods, this was now designated a concessionary path so I was confident of a way back.

A long bend of the river was closely followed at the edge of a large meadow. This side of the river was much quieter. A couple of girls were frying some sausages up for a picnic supper in the warm evening sunshine. I met another couple walk in the other way and they assured me of a route back to Mitton. The sand martins were again plentiful. At one point I disturbed a family of mallards which took to the fast-flowing water, I was concerned for the ducklings that seemed to be swept away but they ended up in a calm stretch by the other bank.

Steps led away from the river and a field was crossed signed by large yellow dots. A strange seat carved from a trunk with a couple of Bears was not that comfortable. This brought me onto the Public Footpath having avoided any road walking. Now that was what I would call a sensible concessionary path serving a good purpose and well used.

Stiles led through the lush fields. Looking back there were fine views of Waddington and Newton Fells, all familiar ground. Eventually, a narrow enclosed path brought me out onto the road less than 100 yards from the church.

A very satisfying walk of about 4.5 miles, one I will repeat. Beautiful English countryside and curiosity satisfied.

The clock now read 6.30.

*****

PENDLE TONIGHT.

The Lancashire countryside looks so clean with Pendle in the background.

I’ve been out for a short walk this beautiful evening. Can’t reveal where. Whilst we are in lockdown is an ideal time to go trespassing to local places I’ve always been intrigued by.

but I’ve still not found what I’m looking for…

WHAT’S NEXT?

This evening’s Clitheroe under Pendle.

It’s all happening fast, maybe a little too fast.

The government’s [they now try to label it as the NHS’s for scientific kudos] Tell, Track and Trace scheme came into being yesterday although they forgot to tell most of the volunteer trackers. The pilot scheme of smartphone tracking, used by most other countries for accuracy, failed in the Isle of White and is nowhere near ready despite us being promised it would be underway mid-May.

So we are left with a ragtail plan for the good British public to have a test if they feel unwell with Covid19 symptoms and then tell a phone operator the names and addresses of all their contacts, as if they would know.. Those contacts will then have to voluntarily self-isolate almost without realising why.   It won’t work.

At the same time, despite there being a high incidence of viral infection still, we are being allowed to meet up with more family and friends. Social distancing of course in the garden and using the loo when you’ve had too much to drink. This for some reason starts on Monday, why tell us before a hot sunny weekend when half the population will take it into their own hands and interpretations tonight.

How long before the second peak? We are already leading most of the world in deaths per capita.

With that background, I drove cautiously up the fell this evening when it had cooled down. I expected I would have the little quarry up on Kemple End to myself for some safe low-level bouldering. And so I brought my brain into action with climbing moves I’ve not executed for months. The very act of climbing concentrates the mind to the exclusion of most other incidental thoughts. The trees on the quarry floor have grown and leafed up. There was bird song everywhere, though I couldn’t identify any. I was isolated from the rest of the world and its troubles for a short spell.

After my short-lived exertions, I climbed back up and viewed the Ribble Valley with Clitheroe and Pendle Hill prominent. My photo of this tranquil scene heads the post.

I then drove back to reality.

As I write this the sounds and smells of barbeques drift through my window.

I know where I’ll be as lockdown is lifted.

*****

Breaking news…So all’s OK.

 

ROADS TO NOWHERE PART 2. HACKING FERRY.

I’ve found another one. This time on the West Pennine Moors 1:25000 Map 287 sheet over the hill in the Ribble Valley. I was pleased with my little expedition on a dead-end track to the Hodder the other day so I started looking further afield and immediately came up with another obvious ‘road to nowhere’ It leaves the road at Mitton Hall and leads down a strange little peninsular to where the Ribble and the Calder join. I’d been on the opposite bank near Hacking Hall three years ago and even took a photo of this peninsular point. 

It was near here that Hacking ferry operated up until the 1950s so perhaps this footpath linked with the ferry.

Time to put on the boots again.

I thought the best place to safely park was in the grounds of Mitton Hall Hotel, I find a place as far as possible from the hall, there are few cars about, and slink off along the road. An alley leads into fields and I’m immediately confronted with a flooded stream I dare not jump across. I find a way round to Little Mitton Farm and wander through their yards without any problem and without seeing a soul. Stiles give access to fields which take me into Mitton Wood, an obvious pheasant breeding area, all I see are half a dozen roe deer the pheasants having been shot.

I’m walking along a ridge between the Ribble on my right and the Calder on my left, at its end I drop down to a stile into a riverside meadow. The field narrows as I proceed just above the flood line.  This is quite a dramatic situation with the two rivers roaring by. At its end, I can see Hacking Hall on the left bank of the Calder and the Hacking Boathouse on the right bank of the Ribble.

Near here in the past was the Hacking Ferry mentioned above. It is documented that the ferry ran on  Sundays to enable people to attend church but I wonder which – Old Langho or Great Mitton. There are historical photographs of the Hacking Ferry which was popular in the late C19th and early C20th.  One could probably request where you wanted to be dropped off. The last ferry boat is said to be preserved in Clitheroe Museum but I have yet to visit it.

The Ribble Way follows the north bank of the Ribble and it was always planned to construct a bridge across at the confluence of the rivers. Stood at the end of the peninsular I wonder about where the bridge would have connected up these footpaths. I later find on line the designs for an innovative bridge linking all three by Flint Neill civic engineers. This was back in 2003 before funding was withdrawn for such projects. An amazing looking three-way arch footbridge, with 43.5m legs and a high arch at the confluence of the Ribble and Calder rivers. What a shame it was never constructed, The rivers were running high with tree trunks whizzing along.  A few walkers were braving the winds on the Ribble Way. How many people come down to this spot I’m standing on? A kingfisher flashes past as I retrace my steps upstream.

I find my way back into the woods as the gale blows through the trees, creaking and groaning, hoping none will come crashing down – this is Tolkien’s Middle Earth after all.

.

At Mitton Hall Hotel the carpark was completely full of wedding guests, I felt rather out of place in my full waterproofs.

SALES WHEEL – THE RIBBLE POST-FLOOD.

We’ve had two weekends of storms, Ciara and Dennis, with serious flooding in parts. The River Ribble hit the headlines with yet more flooding of Ribchester. I didn’t venture out last weekend when local roads were impassible but today things had settled a little and Storm Dennis was petering out. I always regret not going down to the river whilst it is in flood, the usual excuse is bad weather.

Not today. I parked up at Marles Wood, there were some dodgy looking cars and individuals around so I photographed their plates for evidence later if my car had been trashed. Putting that aside I strolled off down the path to the Ribble where it cuts through a sandstone ridge and into an open stretch of water. This is the Sales Wheel. There seems to be a fault line in the rocks as the water flows through into an enormous whirlpool and then a right-angled bend to the river. Today the force of the flow took the turbulent waters off down the valley with little regard to the pool. Last week the flow would have taken the river onto the fields at the bend.

I was satisfied with what I saw and set off upriver. There was evidence of the height of the water last week when most of today’s path would have been impassable. Dog walkers, a common sight on this stretch, were keeping their pets on a close lead – any splashing about in the river would lead to tragedy.

As you approach the Dinkley footbridge there is normally a bit of a shingle beach and shallows in the river – not today, the mighty Ribble just flowed past.

Compare with a summer’s day…

The new bridge is substantial but I wonder about the stability of the abutments on this side of the river, there already seems to have been some damage and undermining of them as the flow of the river curves into the bank..

Across the bridge, I picked up the Ribble Way markers for the stretch back to Ribchester Bridge. The way leaves the river through fields, today very boggy, and up to an elevated area where there are superb views back up the Ribble Valley to Pendle Hill and Dinkley.

I took an illicit detour into the woods to view the Sales Wheel from this side and the river was equally exciting. Where the rocks dip erosion shows the bands of gritstone alternating with mudstones. Both were laid down in a massive delta, the grits when the water was moving fast and deep and the mudstones when slow and shallow. Here the strata have been faulted to almost vertical.

The way onwards through the woods , normally a pleasant path,  was difficult because of all the debris from the floods. The couple I met coming the other way were from Merseyside having a couple of days in Hurst Green, The Shireburn Arms, exploring this part of the Ribble Valley – tomorrow The Tolkien Trail.

The Ribble rolled on……to Ribchester Bridge.I took the lane back on the south side of the river. The day had stayed fine, the wind only increasing towards the end of the afternoon, the last of Dennis.

Seeing the power of a river close up and imagining it a few metres higher one has to have every sympathy with those whose houses have been inudated these last two storms. Unfortunately it appears that these floods will become the norm, whether from climate change or our mismanagement of our immediate environment. I look out at fields opposite me which are completely saturated, they are due for housing development so where will the water go then? I think I know, better order some sandbags.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 8. Whalley to Sawley.

                                                                         Sawley Abbey.

Time we visited an Abbey or two.

But first a visit to Taste Buds Cafe for a second breakfast and coffee, what a great takeaway. Good coffee and tasty bakery.

Fortified I wander through the graveyard of St Mary & All Saints, built on the site of an 8th Century church and a later Norman (circa 1100) church. The present church building dates from around 1200 with the tower being added in 1440. Inside are apparently ancient pews, some from the Abbey. Despite several visits, I’ve been unable to see inside. The Saxon Crosses in the graveyard I’ve pictured before.

I go through the Eastern gate of Whalley Abbey to look at the remains of one of the largest monastic sites in the north.A Cistercian order started here in 1296 and was still expanding in the C15. There was a church, monastic lodgings and infirmary. After the dissolution, it passed into private hands and most was demolished, so mainly only low walls remain. The larger walls were part of the monks quarters. A manor house was built on the site and today is used as a religious centre. An image from their website gives an idea of the layout. The last Abbot, John Paslew was executed for his part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising against Henry VIII actions. The emblem of the Abbey – Three Fishes – crops up a lot in the locality.

I leave the village via the vast west gate and out under the railway into the countryside along the Calder River.

Dog walkers were out in force using footpaths that were new to me, I walked around the site of Calderstones Hospital, an institution for people with learning disabilities. Most of the site has been demolished and redeveloped for housing. Out the other side of the complex, I’m into semi-frozen muddy fields on the line of a Roman Road to Skipton and somewhere there is a base to a medieval cross. I spend some time looking for it, backwards and forwards. Frustrated I carry on only to stumble into the large, unmissable stone nowhere near its OS mapped site.

From this open ground I have good views of Pendle to the east… … and to the north Longridge Fell. In this shot can be seen the domes of Stonyhurst College and closer at hand in Mitton the old hall and the C13 All Hallows Church. It is a shame this church isn’t visited on this walk as it is full of interest including medieval woodwork from Sawley Abbey and memorials to the local Shireburn family, dating from the late 16th century.

Now back on the Ribble Way, I start meeting lots of dog walkers out from Clitheroe. I come round a corner to see a lady with binoculars studying a tree, she points out the kingfisher to me. Wonderful. Off it flies only for me to come across again shortly it in some reeds upriver. Its times like this that I wish I had a better camera.

The walk by the river around Clitheroe was very familiar to me and I made good progress as the sun became lower and lower in the sky. The works at West Bradford are all too familiar. Near Grindleton the path climbs up onto the road from where there were good views of misty Pendle.

Ahead is the bridge over the Ribble at Sawley.

I reach the  Sawley Abbey grounds with half an hours daylight remaining.

Another Cistercian monastery, founded in 1146, it bordered onto the lands of Whalley Monastery and there are records of quarrels over fishing rights on the River Ribble. After dissolution, the abbot William Trafford tried to resurrect the abbey under the Pilgrimage of Grace. This failed and Trafford was hanged at Lancaster in March 1537 and the abbey immediately plundered of its valuables. Over the years stone from the monastery was used in local buildings. On the ground, there is little left of the church but remnants of the refectory and a grand fireplace are visible. Outside the site earthworks connected to the monastery can be seen in surrounding fields. I’ve now finished the first half of A Lancashire Monastic Way from Upholland to Sawley and thoroughly enjoyed the new paths and history I’ve encountered. The next half is from Cockerham Abbey to Furness Abbey, I’m wondering whether to devise my own walking link up between the two?

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 7. Ribchester to Whalley.

                                                                         Whalley Arches.

I’m away early on a clear frosty morning as I continue my way linking Lancashire’s religious sites.

Walking out of Ribchester I divert up a little lane leading to some interesting treasures. Firstly on the left is St. Peter and St, Paul, a barn church, around 1789. At that time it was still illegal for Catholics to have public places of worship. Therefore it was built to appear like a barn. The church was considerably enlarged in 1877. The inside is very plain but there are some outstanding new stained glass windows designed by Deborah Lowe and executed by Pendle Stained Glass in memory of the Walmsley family.  One celebrates the life of St Margaret Clitherow, the York martyr whose remains are reputed to have been possibly buried in the nearby Stydd church of St Saviour. [See below]  Margaret was crushed to death in York at Easter and the window references Stydd and York’s shambles and minster as well as the spring season and her reputed last words: “Jesus have mercy on me.” Another window celebrates the region’s history and landscape and depicts a scene from the River Ribble. Fishes, a kingfisher, sheep and a horse are included in the scene which shows wildflowers and a dandelion clock, suggesting the passage of time.

In the graveyard, I came across a type of ‘triptych’ gravestone of the Pratchett family. Who were they?

Across the way is a delightful small building, the Stydd Almshouses.  Built by the Shireburn family in 1728 to house poor people of the parish. Quite unique. Even the well is listed.

Further up the lane in a field is St. Saviour’s Chapel established in C12 – 13. Associated with it was a ‘monastic hospital’ of the Knights Hospitaliers providing accommodation and aid to pilgrims and the needy. There is no sign of the hospice but the chapel remains after several modifications.

Fortunately, it was open this morning so I was able to view its simple interior. The original studded south door gains entry. The most obvious initial feature above the altar is a graceful C13 window reflected in the design of the oak chairs. The Norman north doorway is blocked but the original wooden door rests against it. There is a stone coffin of unknown origin and several tomb slabs on the floor of the Sanctuary. A lavishly engraved C14 one, Sir Adam and Lady de Clitheroe; a straight cross, Father Walter Vavasour 1740;  a simple cross, possibly St. Margaret Clitherow a martyr who died during the C16 Catholic persecutions. High on the west wall is an old entrance from another building and possibly a gallery similar to the one in St. Michael’s Church in Much Hoole I visited a few days ago. Outside, the northern door has Norman dog toothed carving. To complete the picture there is also a  medieval cross base in the grounds.

Back on the road, it was a short walk to Ribchester bridge over the Ribble. Here the Ribble Way continues as a track past farms to come alongside the river. At one of the houses, I was accosted by a weather-beaten gardener and given a lesson in how to save the world through nature. The path alongside the river was very familiar to me. A couple of herons took flight and there were cormorants this far inland. Ahead Pendle Hill looked resplendent above the valley and the new Dinkley Bridge shone out white.

Once over the bridge, I followed lanes, line of a Roman Road at one straight. Over to the left was Longridge Fell and the green domes of Stonyhurst College could just be made out. Its origins began abroad as a Jesuit School when Catholic education was banned in England. The local Shireburn family owned the C13 hall and their descendants donated it to the Jesuits in 1794. It has flourished as an international Catholic School until this day.

This was the reverse of a day on Wainwright’s Way a couple of months ago so I knew my way across the fields and up past those modern static caravans to reach the Church of St. Leonard at Old Langho.

I popped into the Black Bull Inn next door for the keys to the church. Like St. Saviours at Stydd, this is a simple building. Interestingly it was built around 1557 using stones from the dissolved Abbey at Whalley. a number of carved stones are in the exterior walls. Inside the pews have carved ends from late C17 with initials of their benefactors. Fragments of medieval stained glass have been incorporated into the north chancel windows. The tiles in the sanctuary are Victorian.

The graveyard was extended in early C20 to serve the nearby Brockhall Hospital. There is one mass grave commemorating 600 patients, but that is another story.

More lanes brought me into Whalley where I crossed the River Calder on Old Sol’s bridge alongside the brick arches of the railway viaduct. The light was starting to fade as I came through the massive, vaulted west gate of the Abbey. It was too late to visit the Abbey, that can wait until tomorrow morning. The nearby Parish Church always seems to be locked when I pass by, it apparently has stalls removed from the Abbey. I was able to see the Saxon crosses in the graveyard before catching my bus home.

 

 

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 6. Red Scar to Ribchester.

                                                                      Roman Ribchester.

The bus drops me off at the Preston Crematorium and I stroll down the remembrance avenue. The land to the right is industrial units on the site of the former Courtaulds Mill which produced Rayon. This was a large operation on the edge of Preston with its own power plant and railway, a branch of the Preston -Longridge line. Over 2000 jobs were lost when it closed in 1979. Its prominent chimneys and cooling towers dominated the landscape until demolition in 1983 when lots of the population of Longridge went to view the explosive event.

Lancashire Evening Post.

I was now on the top of Red Scar, a steep escarpment dropping to a horseshoe bend of the Ribble. I’ve joined the Ribble Way which goes eastwards high above the river which is glimpsed through the trees. Worryingly I start to notice ‘Footpath Closed’ signs but continue to see what the problem is and not wanting an unnecessary detour. I climb over barriers. The path drops to cross Tun Brook and there have been landslides damaging the footbridge and its abutments. I can’t drop into the stream bed as the mud is too steep and unstable but can I cross the bridge?  The stepped way to it is impossible but with a little sidetracking I reach the edge of the bridge which has been further damaged by a falling tree. Tentatively I make my way onto the creaking structure thinking if it fails nobody will find me here. I’m relieved once across the other side. Satisfying but foolish.

Moving on after I’d climbed out of the ravine I was on country lanes and in wet fields well above the Ribble. Distant views were rather dull. Coming the other way you wouldn’t have been too pleased by this sign…

Hereabouts was a Roman road marked on the map but not much evidence on the ground. I passed close to Alston Hall and the Observatory previously attached to it. There was plenty of evidence of horses ruining the fields.

A succession of ups and downs finally brought me out onto Hothersall Lane which drops dramatically down to the River Ribble near the outdoor centre.

A curiosity along here I know about is the ‘Hothersall Boggart’. A buried stone head was found on the land and placed in the fork of the tree leading to tales of fairies and boggarts, Heads are found in this area and were often placed on buildings to ward off evil spirits. [see more in Roman Museum to follow]

Along the lane is Hothersall Hall rebuilt in 1856 in the gothic style and looking resplendent today. I sat on a stone nearby to eat a sandwich which set off a dog barking in the garden, a few crusts seemed to please him.

Across the river was Osbaldeston Hall, another place with a long ancestry.

.

I was alongside the river now which today was meandering slowly but this area is prone to flooding and Ribchester often makes the headlines on those occasions.

Ribchester is famous for Bremetennacum the Roman fort strategically situated on the banks of the river at a crossroads of several important routes. Not only was there a cavalry fort but also a vicus, a village community surrounding it. It was time to visit the Roman Museum…

The phrase ‘good things come in small packages’ applies to this excellent little museum. The Roman history of the area is comprehensively explained and artefacts displayed and interpreted well. One of the first findings [1796] of Roman occupation was by a schoolboy in a ditch – The Townley Hoard – now displayed in the British Museum. As part of this hoard is a well-preserved helmet and there is a replica on display here.  Of great interest are the more mundane items on display – combs, leather shoes, brooches, glassware, slingshot balls etc. Oh, and there are some more stone heads.

Replica Roman Helmet.

Tombstone of Asturian Cavalryman.

 

 

Well worth a visit.

Behind the museum are the excavations of a Roman granary and nearer the river a Roman Bath House [heading photo]. How much more must be lying beneath the present-day Ribchester?

Granary.

Built on a site close to the Roman Fort is the C13 St. Wilfrid’s church, stones from the fort most likely being used in its construction.

Inside, the Dutton Chapel contains a small C14 wall painting of St. Christopher and some medieval coloured glass pieces in one of the windows. There is recorded a mass burial from the Black Death in C14 where the chapel was added.  Black Death wiped out a large percentage of the population and following it there were not enough peasants to work the land, the feudal system fell apart and it became more economical in Lancashire to graze the fields with sheep. Hence the wool trade giving way to the cotton trade where spinning and weaving skills existed, leading in turn to mills and urban industrialisation.

In the porch is a beautifully carved tombstone of obvious antiquity from a grave of a Knight of St. John of Jerusalem, an order once based at St. Saviour, Stydd – but that’s for tomorrow’s walk.

One of the gravestones in the churchyard has the following inscription…

Here lieth the body of
Thos. Greenwod who
died May 24 1776
In ye 52 year of his age
Honest, industrious
seeming still content
Nor did repine(?) at what
he underwent
His transient life was 
with hard labour fill’d
And working in a
makle(?)pit was kill’d.

The nature of Thomas’ death seems clear – he died in an accident, probably a marle pit of which there are many in the area. They were dug to obtain lime-rich mud which was used to improve the land, most are now small ponds.

Nearby is a C17 sandstone sundial…

Church Street is lined with weavers’ cottages many of them listed but spoilt with all the parked cars. The White Bull, an iconic inn with its porch supported by columns possibly from a temple to Minerva,  a place of worship in Roman times.  The attached sandstone mounting block is cut into three steps.

Further on is the Black Bull inn and nearby my bus stop where I was preparing for half an hour wait when up pulled one of my neighbours with the offer of a lift home, a good end to a satisfying day.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 5. Preston to Ladyewell.

Guild Wheel and Ribble Way.

I was back in Preston bus station and a short walk, including Winkley Square, had me in Avenham Park. It wasn’t supposed to rain but I was donning waterproofs under the old railway bridge before setting off along what was mainly the Preston Guild Wheel shared with The Ribble Way. The weather remained dull and damp all day.

The 21-mile, Guild Wheel cycle and walking path  [National Cycle Route 622] was opened in 2012 as one of the projects of that year’s Preston Guild. Established by royal charter in 1179, the Preston Guild of traders was initially held every few years on an irregular basis but has taken place every 20 years since 1542, other than 1942 when it was cancelled due to World War II, resuming in 1952. It circles the city of Preston on mainly off-road trails and is very popular with cyclists.

In the park, a group of Cromwell’s soldiers were preparing to re-enact the Battle of Preston.

I normally cycle this route so it was a different experience on foot but I was able to make fast progress. I was soon on the banks of the river opposite Cuerdale Hall, the site of the Cuerdale Hoard discovery in 1840. The hoard was a vast collection of Viking silver coins and jewellery now displayed in the British Museum.

Cuerdale Hall

The trail became busier once in the Brockholes Nature Reserve, a large wetlands area. I didn’t have binoculars with me so there was no lingering. The steep track up into Red Scar Woods was easier without having to push a bike. Leaving the Ribble Way the Guild Wheel goes through the grounds of Preston Crematorium.  The diversion to Ladyewell Shrine involved roads and tracks very close to the motorway so the traffic noise was everpresent. The lane leading up to the shrine is thought to have been a pilgrim route for centuries and continues to be so. The present Ladyewell House incorporates a chapel from 1685 which was used until St. Mary’s Church was built up the road in 1793. [I have photos of my children in a nativity play in the present-day church when they attended the neighbouring Fernyhalgh infant school, now closed.] Our Lady’s Well is the object of pilgrimages to this day, pressing a button serves you with water from the well. There is also an ancient cross base here amongst the modern Catholic shrines and religious tat.I’m not sure why The Ladyewell Shrine has become so popular as a pilgrimage destination.

*****