Tag Archives: Ribble Valley

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 1 – another straight line.

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

The Pieman.

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

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

Airedale Park.

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


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

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

Tree planted for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

?Millenium Clock.

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Not all has been beautified.


This guy means business.

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

“falling leaves hide the path so quietly”
John Bailey

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

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

Old Alston Hall.

New Alston Hall and observatories.

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


Possible ford in red.




Beacon Hill, Grindleton Fell.

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

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

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

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

Hazy Pendle.

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

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



I’ve been up Longridge Fell three times this week, all from different directions. This lack of originality is partially based on my reluctance to drive far, partly on the weather [torrential rain on alternate days put boggy Fairsnape out of the question] and mainly on my slow re-acquaintance with hilly country. Anyhow it is a great little fell, the most southerly named fell in the UK with the easy to remember 350m height.

Today, Thursday 5th April, was fantastic, you couldn’t have wished for a better Spring like day. Blue skies, no wind and warmish sun [that’s that round yellow thing in the sky]. Of course the paths were still muddy and slippy but that’s par for the course at this time of year in Lancashire. A few groups were out on longer rambles and the dog strollers were making the best of the day.

I parked at Higher Hodder Bridge and  tackled the steep Birdy Brow road head on, One gains height quickly and just past Kemple End the forest track leaves the road zigzagging into the trees. I was already sweating as the morning warmed up. The forest track on a day like this reminded me of walking through Southern Spain on the GR 7 where there is much forest. I was going to say ‘wish I was there now’ but on a day like this you can’t  beat Lancashire. A hidden little path through the trees brings one out at a lovely open viewpoint with the Bowland Fells full on, the frosty Yorkshire peaks off to the East and Chipping Vale at your feet,

Higher on the fell I came across forest workers hand planting thousands of spruce saplings in rough ground that had been felled a couple of years ago. These are disease resistant ones and I will watch their growth over coming years.

Knowing that the track was blocked ahead with fallen trees I again took to smaller paths through the trees some of which are old Scots Pines, an enchanting place. I’ve been known to bivy in this secret place with the bonus of deer wandering past in the night. Further on is the ‘wall path’ leading towards the summit.  Years ago this path was hardly visible but has become more used and hence more boggy, most of the wall that ran alongside it has been now used as infill for the path.

Once out in the open the white trig point was clearly seen ahead with more stunning views of Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills. If I had kept walking down the ridge I would have been home in an hour but I had a circuit to complete so headed south on forest roads, with Pendle Hill dominant ahead above the Ribble Valley, to come out at the road above Crowshaw Quarry where I had a bite to eat in the sunshine.

The bridle way down past Green Gore to Hurst Green is very familiar but I realised I nearly always walk it in the opposite direction. One of my favourite places is Dean Brook as it descends off the fell and through old mill placements at Hurst Green. The bridge there is a great launching pad for poo sticks.

I came out at the Almshouses which somehow were brought down from Kemple End. The Bayley Arms pub seems to be closed so I carried straight across on Smithy Lane through muddy fields and into the grounds of Stoneyhurst College.

I took the private road to Hodder Court where I picked up the popular footpath alongside the Hodder river. This is a roller coaster of a path in the trees above the river as I headed back to  Higher Hodder Bridge. A delight with the fast flowing Hodder below, emerging Wild Garlic under my feet and expectant bird song in the air.

That was 5 hours of my life well spent.




Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.
SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re typically most severe during December, January and February.

Symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • a persistent low mood
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the:
  • production of melatonin – melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels
  • production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
  • body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD                                                                                            
  •   Treatments for SAD

  • lifestyle measures – including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels
  • light therapy – where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight
  • talking therapies – such as therapy.
  • antidepressant medication.
      from  nhs.uk


Why am I telling you all this – well most winters I disappear to sunnier climes as I’ve found over the years that it prevents all of the above. As well as the improved climate I am usually involved in some semi-challenging walk giving me loads of exercise. This year I’ve been grounded because of my hip problems brought on by excessive exercise. Recent posts will have shown how I’ve partially dealt with it, sorry for the maudlin tone to those. Why don’t I just go abroad for a couple of weeks you say – well I’m not good at ‘lazy’ holidays by the pool, would probably just eat and drink too much.

Thus I’m still battling on, physio next week. So when the sun shone this morning I needed to get out. Luckily JD, of GR131 fame, phoned and within 30 mins I was at his house with a plan to do a relatively easy walk to Ribchester and catch the bus back. Off we went with bus passes at the ready.

The watery sun shone, as planned, whilst we walked past the extensive Longridge reservoirs.

The stroll down the quiet Hothersall Lane was a pleasure, as it warmed up I could feel all that lovely Serotonin fighting off the nasty Melatonin. The usual  juxtaposition of irreverent [me] and intellectual conversation [JD] bowled us along and soon we were dropping down the steep escarpment to Hothersall Lodge an outdoor centre run by Lancs County Council. Nobody was about but signs of activity were everywhere, climbing wall, zip wire, grounded canoes, archery ranges, nature walks etc. A great place to introduce people to the outdoors. We were now following the Ribble Way, a flawed route due to private fishing interests unnecessarily diverting the path higher up stream.

Further on was Hothersall Hall, a Gothic style building refurbished and providing privileged accommodation to some persons.  I tried in vain to relocate the Hothersall Boggart – a slightly grotesque stone head in the fork of a tree with associated legends. No luck today but I know its there somewhere.

All was going well with the walking until now, a good surface and fairly flat going. I had forgotten the little hill to be crossed on muddy fields – it was not a pretty sight as I struggled to cope with the terrain. Thankfully I’d brought my tracking poles, not to be separated from them these days. There were good views down to the River Ribble.

That hill!.


We had time to look across the Ribble to the extensive Osbaldeston Hall on the south bank. A path led off towards it and presumably some ancient ford crossing. JD remembered wading the river here on some previous walk but not today thank you.After that it was a stroll to walk into Ribchester, were we on a Roman Road?

Eschewing the Roman artifacts and other attractions of the village we headed past the now closed White Bull with its ‘Roman columns’ to the friendly Black Bull where we enjoyed a quick slurp of Bowland Brewery’s Buster before catching the rattly bus to Longridge.

Needs must so SAD can SOD off.  I’ve plans for the next week or so if the weather is good.



I had no sooner booked a trip to the Canary Islands, to get away from our dismal weather, when the temperature here shot up and the sun was shining. Will it last? Better get out, make the most of it and do a bit of training. Now when I say training I mean go for a short walk. I chose Longridge Fell again as I was hoping for clear views, but which way up?  It is so easy to park up near Cardwell House but I decided to reverse my usual routes for variety. This turned out to be quite different and not entirely successful, for some reason my anti clockwise circuit was strangely unbalanced. I couldn’t really say why – the wrong views, the wrong gradients, the wrong approach.

So what was new today, apart from the sunny weather?  There has been a lot of timber extraction on the fell in the last few years, partly due to the Ramorum fungus and also with maturity. Interestingly I’ve spent a few days recently cutting down a Blue Spruce in my garden. It suddenly lost all its needles a couple of years ago and has not recovered. Spruces are susceptible to the disease and I wonder whether I brought it back from the fell on my boots. The tracks on the fell have been improved to take the heavy machines and lorries involved. They only need to quarry superficially into the fellside to obtain  hardcore for the tracks. I had just passed one of these quarries when I came across a lorry and trailer being loaded with cut timber. It looked a slick operation.

Distant Pendle Hill.

Ready made hardcore quarry.

Smaller tracks took me to the top and the views were clearer than the other day, the Yorkshire Three Peaks were prominent and across Chipping Vale the Bowland Fells distinct. On my way down the ‘balcony’ path I started to meet people coming up from the now busy carpark.

A good 5.5 miles. I was home for lunch.




Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.

Today’s walk followed that futile theme and the rhyme filled my head.

Duddel Brook rises quite high on the southern slopes of Longridge Fell and reaches the Ribble in Ribchester. This Brook have carved its way down the hill and created a wooded valley [seen on the OS map as a green caterpillar] for the most part secretive. The other obvious stream is Dean Brook passing through Hurst Green. Their importance in the past was related to the many small mills powered by the rushing waters and hence they are worthy of exploration today.

From near the Roman Museum in Ribchester I set off along the Ribble to where  the Duddel Brook issues close to a Roman bath house whose outline has been excavated. Normally field paths from Stone Bridge would lead across to Gallows Lane but at the moment they are virtually flooded so I followed the main road before turning up the Lane. A mullioned cottage at Lower Dutton is outstanding. I gained access to the brook a little higher and wandered through the beech woods alongside the water. Old mills appeared with signs of mill races, lodges and ruined wheel installations. I believe that bobbin making was the main industry here. Above the deep valley there was a brief view of Dutton Hall a prominent C17 house with a commanding aspect over the Ribble Valley. I crossed the brook on bridges and eventually deep in the valley recrossed by a shallow ford.

Start and finish – Duddel Brook entering the Ribble.

Roman Bath House.

Dutton Hall.

The path climbed away from the stream into fields. A lone oak tree, perhaps 300yrs old, was a waymarker across the field. On the road a small wholesale unit purveyed vitamins as well as ‘sweets’, I didn’t 

only half-way up – neither up nor down

  Again I took the easy drier tarmac option, walking up Huntington Hall Lane past several expensively converted houses and barns. After a steep section Huntington Hall itself appeared on the right, a 17century house which has had a lot of money spent on it in recent years. At the road corner I was back into the fields with views back to the Ribble Valley, I meant to say this was a rare, sunny, dry day. Cresting a hill Intack Farm came into view, again a place spending lots of money with a horse arena right across the footpath but the diversion was no problem and well signed – but is it legal? A quick peep into Crowshaw Quarry showed it to be remarkably dry, could be bouldering here later this week. Crossing the road the main forest track was taken eventually leading up to the trig point on Longridge Fell. Chipping Vale and the Bowland Hills were fairly clear but that was not really today’s objective.

Huntingdon Hall.

Longridge Fell Trig point.

when they were up, they were up


I came down by the track to Lennox Farm near where the Duddel Brook probably starts life.  A lane took me past Goodshaw Farm where the new lambs were being tended, the farmer told me he had 600 sheep to lamb this year and was concerned about the wet fields he was placing them into. Below the farm was an old barn, Smith Bottom, which on close inspection revealed two perfectly shaped cruck frames thus giving a clue to its medieval age. Down steeply through beech woods overgrown with rhododendrons to a bridge over our brook. This lane leads up to the highly secretive Dutton Manor in its cloak of trees.

A young Duddel Brook.

Smith Bottom cruck barn.

Trees hiding Dutton Manor.

Across the next road was Duddel Farm on its exposed hill. The farmer was feeding cattle in the barns and bemoaning the wet conditions, but despite that remained cheerful and chatty – we had many mutual friends and interests. He was right about the conditions as the next few fields leading back to Ribchester were almost afloat and the mud slowly crept above my knees.


I don’t normally take selfies.

I was keen to reach the last two listed buildings at Stydd. First was St. Saviours a simple C12 chapel. Its plane interior has a flagged floor with ancient gravestones, a stone coffin and wooden pulpit and rails. Very evocative. Further down the lane is Stydd Almshouse built in 1728 to house the poorest parishioners. It is an architectural gem with its central staircase and diminutive size.

St. Saviours.

So back to where I started.

when they were down, they were down


I would like the challenge of an entire ascent of Duddel Brook – obviously in dry summer conditions and with a good degree of so called trespassing. Watch this space.