Tag Archives: River Hodder

THE INFANT HODDER.

Thursday 19th November.  5miles.    Cross of Greet Bridge.

I remember walking The Hodder Way 15 years ago to check the route description for an upcoming guide. We started on the watershed high on that lonely road from Slaidburn to Bentham. Next to the road is the base of the medieval Cross of Greet.  A large irregular block of sandstone with a flat top having a rectangular socket, once marking the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. This road is a favourite with cyclists continuing over Tatham Fell and perhaps making the return over Clapham Common and Bowland Knotts. This morning the whole area looked appealing in the sunshine.

From up here the Hodder starts its journey and snakes down the valley.

Back at the Cross of Greet Bridge I parked up, the Hodder is already in full flow.  The bridge is strictly utilitarian. The path alongside the river was underwater, so I headed for higher ground. Rough going was to be expected and the side streams became more and more difficult to cross. I had nagging doubts about whether it was wise to set off when there was so much water about. Everywhere was awash. I was pleased to arrive at the ford over Kearsden Beck dry footed, thanks to my new boots, but the water here was too deep and fast flowing, so I scouted upstream for another crossing finding one without too much difficulty and hopped across.

Spot the barn.

Un-fordable ford.

A hop across.

Now back on dry land I was climbing uphill above Catlow farm to a solitary barn on the skyline, seen in one of the photos above.

Remote Catlow Farm.

Sinkhole marked on the map.

 

That barn.

Old cart.

Pendle portrait.

Bowland Knotts were beyond if I’d fancied an even rougher pathless walk but I decided to traverse the hillside towards New House barn with Stocks Reservoir and Pendle ahead. I was now on the upper half of the Stocks Reservoir walk which I knew well. Up here above the Hodder I can see across the valley to Lamb Hill where I’m heading. Steeply down to the footbridge over the Hodder where I remember stepping stones, they would have been underwater today. The ruined farm of Collyholme is barely recognisable.

New House Barn.

Lamb Hill across the valley.

Collyholme.

 

The steep pull up to the road has been paved in places which was a help in these boggy conditions. I could have just walked back along the road but there is a footpath marked going up to Lamb Hill farm which I followed.  The farm has massive modern barns making the house virtually invisible.

Lamb Hill Farm.

Across the valley Bowland Knotts filled the scene. A footpath of sorts weaved through and on down the sodden fields. I came out onto the road just above the bridge but wanted to investigate some riverside sheep pens I’d noticed earlier. Climbing over a fence and going through dead bracken gave me a bird’s eye view of the extensive walled folds. These must have been used in the past when bringing the sheep off the fells and sorting them, I doubt they are in present use. The world has moved on even up here.

The road over the fells.

A short day but what a beautiful remote area.

*****

ANOTHER SIDE TO STOCKS.

Thursday 12th November.  6.5 miles.  Slaidburn.

My vitamin D is topped up as I’ve been in sunshine most of the day, a bonus for November and I made sure I got away a little earlier so that I would finish before dark. During the current lockdown I have imposed upon myself a maximum distance of 15 miles [30 minutes] car travel for the purpose of subsequent exercise, I hope that is reasonable particularly into the sparsely populated countryside north and east of me. Today I travelled a shade over 13 miles to Slaidburn. I had been expecting to park outside the village because it has been so popular recently but on arrival the car park was virtually empty. I’d joined some of those red dashed lines on the map to give a circuit to the east of Stocks Reservoir I hadn’t walked before.

Yesterday was Armistice Day and the memorial was appropriately decorated.

From the old bridge over Croasdale Brook I headed out towards Hammerton Hall.

An incident happened here many years ago but is still fresh in my memory. Alan and I were returning from a circuit of Stocks Reservoir and chatting away, arrived at the ford leading straight to a farm in the village. Without consulting the map we just waded through maybe a foot of water knowing we had dry gear in the car. The farmer was leaning on his gate watching us but said nothing until we were well through. A voice then boomed out “you can’t come this way, it’s not the path. It’s on the other side”  Sure enough we should have stayed on the far bank down to the bridge. He showed no compassion so back we trudged through the river certain we could hear faint chuckling.

Over an even older and graceful Holmehead Bridge, past the falls on Barn Gill.

And there was Hammerton Hall on a prominent position above the River Hodder.  It is a large three-gabled Elizabeth house [1600] standing on the site of a 12th century house and incorporating parts of it. Its south facade gives a fine display of mullioned windows. Once the home of the  Hamerton family, a wealthy medieval family who are reputed to have been able to ride from Slaidburn to York (approx. 50 miles) on their own land!
Unfortunately, they lost most of their wealth and power when Sir Stephen de Hamerton joined Abbot Paslew of Whalley in the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536. This was a protest against Henry VIII’s proposed dissolution of the monasteries. Sir Stephen was executed for treason in 1537.

My arrival at the next farm, Black House, coincided with a window cleaner, for some reason I found it incongruous that he would be out in such a remote spot. We exchanged pleasantries, he was from Colne and had a large rural area to cover. Farmers down country lanes are vulnerable to theft, and he has taken years to build up their confidence. He went on to talk about churches that he works on, for free, again I never really considered the cleaning of all that stained-glass. I walked on whistling George Formby’s favourite – ‘When I’m cleaning windows’

Along the elevated farm lane I had good views of Stocks Reservoir and Bowland Knotts behind although this wasn’t the purpose of the day.

At the end of the farm lane I came out onto tarmac opposite the small Dalehead Chapel. When the reservoir was constructed back in the 30s Stocks-in-Bowland village was engulfed, On the lake bed are remains of cottages, shops, an inn and a school but the church of St. James was dismantled and rebuilt here above the waters on the edge of Gisburn Forest. I sat on the church steps enjoying the sun.

It was easy to walk past my turn off into the forest, so I had to double back along the road to find it. I plunged into the woods for a short distance but then followed a farm track past a barn down to another isolated farm Brook House Green. The usual collection of huts and rubbish surrounded an interesting house with a date stone of 1761.

 

I always meant to put the engine back in…

I’ll gloss over the next half mile of pathless, reedy and boggy ground to arrive at Higher Stony Bank, another 17th century house. Along the road a man was exercising his large Irish Wolfhound on his own rough plantation. He, not the dog, was eager to chat about how he had bought the land and was planting it up with wild flowers and trees. “Best view in Bowland“…

Asking where I was from and where I was going he also said he had bought Pikefield Plantation, my next destination. This is a  group of trees on a prominent hill in the heart of this countryside. His parents ashes were up there and as his mother had been an archaeologist he had constructed a tumulus. What will future historians make of that? I often do wonder about people who leave litter in the countryside but this had me baffled…

The way back to Slaidburn was complicated through small fields with awkward stiles and poor waymarking. I battled on. Slaidburn remained hidden in the folds of the hills until the last moments.

How much can you get from a 6-mile walk?

*****

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.

*****

THE HODDER FROM DUNSOP BRIDGE – NEW PATHWAYS.

JD and I make the best of this lovely late September weather on another section of Lancashire’s loveliest river. We find paths under the Bowland Hills that neither of us have traversed.

We leave a quiet Dunsop Bridge at 10am and walk the familiar track lined with giant redwoods  to Thorneyholme Hall and then head upstream through fields next to the Hodder. The grass is wet hinting that the cold nights of Autumn have arrived. A fisherman appears and instantly recognises JD from their mutual BAE Systems workplace. Pleasantries are passed, and we wish him success at catching a trout.

Across the river we spy the Sugar Loaf hill, a limestone knoll which has been quarried for the kiln below. It is said that at one time a gibbet stood on its summit. I keep meaning to go and have a closer look.

Further up the river we cross a wire suspension bridge which bounces alarmingly. When and why was it built?

The road is reached at Boarsden Farm, and we walk along it for 1/4 mile leaving the river, there is no traffic. A footpath cuts up the fields past the largely unseen Heaning Farm. Some soggy fields later we pop out onto a tarmacked road only to acutely turn back into fields leading to Gamble Hole Farm. Just above it is a large hole formed when a cave system collapsed. We are in limestone country and there are several sinkholes in the next large field. There is also a bull with his cattle, so we keep the other side of barbed wire and exit eventually into the aptly named Bull Lane. Lunch is taken in the warm sunshine and I decide to alter our route. Over the wall I’ve spotted a series of paths along the base of Burn Fell, so we backtrack a little to walk up a minor road before heading to Burn House Farm and its barking dogs. This farm is at the back of beyond with amazing views to Pen y Ghent, the Easington/Waddington fells and all the familiar Bowland fells surrounding the Trough road.

Farms under Burn Fell.

Wide views.

Our track contours the base of Burn Fell and there is a memorial to several WW2 aircraft crashes in the vicinity. I visited one on Burn Fell last year.

A delightful interlude takes us into trees and a hidden clough. Eventually we arrive at Beatrix Farm which was on my original route. This has been a stock rearing centre since the C13th and was once a busy hamlet with its own market. There are traces of grassed-over foundations of long vanished dwellings but I’m not sure we recognise any. Ahead Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll increasingly dominate  the scene.  Bowland at its best. Chatting away we soon reach Wood End Farm with its diversified herds and then Dunsop Bridge. There is not enough social distancing available in the café for tea and cake.

An excellent round on paths new to us alongside the Hodder and some remoter farms of Bowland.

*****

NEWTON AND SLAIDBURN.

                                                     The Hodder between Newton and Slaidburn.

A short walk was all I needed today.

I’m always driving through these two villages, so I thought it was time to visit in more detail. During this Covid-19 pandemic everyone seems to be out and about. All the car-parks are overflowing and the honey spots overwhelmed, I’ve usually kept well clear but today I had to park up in Newton. Mea culpa.  I found a safe spot outside the village but noticed some thoughtless blocking of farmers’ gates etc.

I first wandered around the olde worlde hamlet of Newton – in – Bowland.

Georgian Newton Hall.

Salisbury Hall.

John Brabbins Old School. 1757.

Old school 1842.

Old reading room. Late C18th.

United Reformed Church. 1887.

 

Then I was ready to start the riverside walk to Slaidburn. The River Hodder.

Ahead was the limestone bluff above Dunhow Hall.

There are cliff faces up there in the trees and I had time to climb up and explore. On closer acquaintance the rock was overhanging and compact, not much scope for my style of climbing, i.e.  too hard. Whilst I was up here I explored further and came out into meadows on top of the hill with good views towards Slaidburn. I wandered down to re-join the path near the gatehouse and then walked into Slaidburn on a short stretch of busy road. The 15th century St. Andrew’s Church turned out to be open, I had never visited it but read of rich internal features. Most of the interior was taped off, so I only had a glimpse of the elaborate screen, Norman font, box pews and pulpit. Outside there was a sundial from 1796 and a shaft of a Medieval Cross.

Next door was the Old Grammar School founded in 1717 and still in use as a village school.

Rows of 16/17 C cottages lead into the village and there in front of you is The Hark to Bounty pub.

The inn’s name is from the sound of the C19th Squire’s dog, Bounty.

At the top of the steps was the old courtroom of the district. On the outside of the iron rail the lower steps  were used for horse mounting.

The war memorial is on an island and an old Wesleyan Chapel has been restored.

Chapel Street.

The café on the village green was doing a roaring trade from passing travellers. Some impressive motorbikes were on display.

Leaving the hubbub I climbed away from the bridge and crossed into fields heading over into the Easington valley I’d been in a few days ago. The weather conditions today were much pleasanter with clear views of Easington Fell.

At Broadhead Farm I chatted to the farmer as he selected lambs to go to auction.

Following Easington Brook…… I came to the impressive Easington Manor House once again. Easington hamlet was as quiet as normal. Onwards through fields by Easington Brook to join the Hodder and a path back to the elegant Newton Bridge. And that was just a short walk.

*****

STOCKS RESERVOIR – THE OTHER WAY ROUND.

Last week my planned trip to Stocks was aborted by a last-minute decision to walk up Croasdale. I was back today though and parked at a remote spot on the hill road from Slaidburn to Bentham just short of the Cross of Greet bridge over the River Hodder, yes I renew my acquaintance with this lovely river. The Hodder Valley up here was dammed in the 1920s to create Stocks Reservoir.  For an informative history, http://www.dalehead.org/ is worth consulting.

As is usual with my walks at the present I don’t set off till lunchtime when the weather is hopefully on the mend. Where I park, avoiding the busy honeypots, gives me easy access to the waymarked circular walk around the Reservoir. Incidentally, my last visit here with Sir Hugh and JD was last July almost to the day. That was a bright sunny day whereas today was dull and windy and I decided to walk anticlockwise for a change.

Immediately I was inserted into a procession of walkers who were already halfway round. It’s a busy Sunday. Behind me, a commotion erupted as a couple with a dog off the lead, despite all the notices, were frantically calling its name, Max, as it charged off after the sheep. They charged off after the dog and all ended up in a heap on the hillside, I had no sympathy and walked on.

The route I was walking was originally a rail track from a quarry providing stone for the dam. It took me past the fishermen’s cafe and centre, where I couldn’t resist a coffee, served with all the Covid precautions we are having to get used to.

Onwards past the stately mansion built by the waterboard.

From the dam I watched fishermen stood in the water or more sensibly sat in a boat, not a fish was landed.

After that were open meadows with views up the water. I would think it was fifty-fifty as to the number of walkers going my way and those completing the circuit clockwise. I’ve often debated on how we choose the way around a circular walk – prevailing weather conditions, the best views, ease of ascents, the guidebook description etc. I wonder if left-handers have a different mindset? Whatever my circuit today gave different aspects to previous visits.

At the road, I met all the mountain bikers spilling out of Gisburn Forest and all the cars parked in and out of the car park. The lockdown has highlighted selfish and illegal parking.

Once past the parking I had the trail to myself once again giving me time to nibble away at the abundant wild raspberries. United Utilities have done an excellent job of keeping us walkers off the road on a permissive path that has a good feel as it winds through the bushes.

Occasional walls remind one of the previous village that occupied this valley. I popped into one of the bird hides along here but not much was happening, cormorants were drying their wings on a promontory on the far side of the water and a kestrel was hunting closer by.

A steady pull up a lane brought me to the site of New House farm of which there is only a barn still standing, the web site I mentioned has photos of the old farms. Great views back down from up here over Stocks with Pendle in the distance.

I’m almost full circle but first, have to drop down to cross the footbridge over the River Hodder and climb up on a flagged path past more ruins to where I am parked.

Here I bizarrely meet a young lady with a baby in a pram and a couple of working dogs. , “He was teething so I’ve come out to settle him”,   She lives just up the lane in one of the most remote farmhouses in Lancashire, it was Yorkshire once. She bemoans the fact that the area is becoming more accessible and well known. there are even boy racers on the road.

*****

 

 

 

 

THE HODDER FROM BOTH SIDES.

                                                                       LOWER HODDER BRIDGE.

Back in time, the River Hodder was a boundary between Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire in these parts. The Upper and Lower Hodder bridges are inscribed accordingly and tonight I tread both sides.

My evening stroll starts from the Higher Hodder Bridge and follows the woods on the south side of the river. To be honest you don’t get good views of the river when the trees are in full leaf. I do however spot a fly fisherman wading in on the opposite side.

My path goes up and down to eventually arrive at the Stonyhurst Park Cross and on down to another cross which has been decapitated. Here a side stream is crossed by an ornate bridge and down below on the river banks are the remains of bathing huts used by pupils of Stonyhurst and the preparatory Hodder Place in past times. The river here has several natural weirs creating suitable bathing pools. It looked tempting today but I think a special trip is called for with support from like-minded friends.

 

Bathing Huts, Early C20.

There is a steep little climb away from the river towards Hodder Place [now residential apartments] but I didn’t think it was that steep…

A mile of easy walking alongside the Hodder brings one to the Lower Hodder Bridge and of course its historic companion ‘Cromwell’s Bridge’.  He is said to have marched his army over on the way to Stonyhurst and on to fight the Battle of Preston in 1648.  I do have to admire its shapely three arches. Across the bridge, a stile leads me into fields on what would have been the Yorkshire side. You climb high above the river which is not visible at this time of year through the trees. All is peaceful. This is all lovely walking country, green fields, grazing sheep and Lancashire hills. A contrast to the woods I’d walked through on the other side. The medieval Mitton Church could be seen across the way, that’s where I walked a couple of weeks ago by the River Ribble. The rivers meet less than a mile away.

A short stretch of road and I’m back in fields heading down to the Hodder again under Kemple End the eastern limit of Longridge Fell. The Higher Hodder bridge brings me back to my start point – I could almost walk it again.

The Hodder upstream.

                                                            HIGHER HODDER BRIDGE.

*****

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

 

DISTRACTED IN THE WOODS.

                                                       The River Hodder from the Higher Bridge.

The roads at this end of  Longridge Fell were still closed as they damped down the forest fires so I drove to the far end and parked near Higher Hodder Bridge. My plan was a short evening walk up to Kemple End quarry for a bit of bouldering.

I always enjoy the path through the trees above the Hodder. The spring foliage on the trees cut out some of the river views. Normally I spot herons, kingfishers and dippers on this stretch but not tonight.  But I was enjoying the way so much that I ignored the intended path that would have taken me up the fell and I continued along the river.

A mother and her two children were engrossed in the river.

The path at one point climbs away from the river and I knew of the cross in the woods on this stretch, Stonyhurst Park Cross stands above the River Hodder close to the former preparatory school, Hodder Place [now apartments]. 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 earlier monument is unknown.

[This set me thinking – I had passed the Pinfold Cross near Stockbridge yesterday and I knew of two more crosses possibly related to Stonyhurst. Saint Paulinus’ Cross near Kemple End and Cross Gills Farm Cross near the Ribble. There is some evidence that pupils of Stonyhurst would walk between the four crosses on Palm Sunday. That seemed a ready-made walk for me to follow. But looking at the map I found another unnamed cross in the woods near SD672398 and there is a cross of uncertain age in Hurst Green. Watch this space.]

Today I noticed a faint path leading up into the woods behind the cross which I followed to some steep old steps. I climbed up these higher into the trees where I found another little path heading onwards. I imagined I would be able to cut across directly to Kemple End but at the edge of the woods were barbed wire fences and ahead unknown fields with what looked like one of those glamping developments. I did have a good view of Pendle from up here above the trees before I retreated all the way back down to the cross.

I knew the accepted footpath out of the woods up lots of steps and into fields leading to Stonyhurst, this is part of the now popular Tolkien Trail.

So I found myself on the lane around the college. It was a beautiful sunny evening and I wandered on. I became a little lost again in the fields but found my way up to Kemple End, it had taken me longer than I thought to reach here. There were the usual good views, particularly to Whalley Viaduct prominent below the Nab and the Hameldon Hills in the background.

A short walk down the lane and  I was back in fields heading towards the river. Halfway down my phone rang and while I took the rather long call I found a nice grassy area in the sunshine to lie down on. Later a bit further on I was crossing the footbridge which replaced a stone clapper bridge and wanted to take a photo. I realised I’d lost my camera, probably while I’d been reclining. I  retraced my steps and then spent a good 15minutes combing the slope I’d been on before I spotted the camera.

 

The old clapper bridge.

I was soon back at Higher Hodder Bridge. I hadn’t really met anyone, perfect.

*****

 

ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE.

I’m content to sit and peruse OS maps on a cold, wet and windy day.  In front of me is the 1:25000 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale [OL41]. I’m not too keen on double-sided maps, especially in a howling gale when you always need the reverse side. but the west side covers my local hills. Unfortunately, Longridge lies off the edge of this sheet and another, the Blackpool and Preston [Explorer 285].  It just makes the edge of Explorer 287, West Pennine Moors. All very difficult for a days walk.

Back to OL41 what takes my notice just now is a “dead-end”  public right of way path leaving the Chaigley Road opposite Walker Fold and heading to the River Hodder – ‘a road to nowhere’

Curiosity aroused I wondered about its origins, the fact that it ends at the river suggests there may have been a ford here in times past, but there is no path marked on the other bank. Does anybody ever walk this dead-end path? maybe fishermen and presumably the local farmers. Does it even exist on the ground? Lancashire C.C. still shows it as a right of way on their website. On an older map, I see that the trees at its end are named Limekiln Wood, could there have been a lime kiln at the end of the track?

The sun is coming out this afternoon, time to explore and see where I get to.

I was apprehensive as I left the road at Walker Fold. The footpath sign was hidden in the foliage, the lane looked private and there was a lot of water flowing everywhere. I have to admit to carrying wire cutters in my pocket. The first ‘obstacle’ would be the grounds of the properties on the lane but I needn’t have worried  – there was a stile with an arrow pointing me across their land via more stiles and a little bridge. Soon I was in open fields with well-constructed and maintained stiles showing the way, many of these appeared relatively new. In fact, this was country walking as it should be, the sign of a responsible landowner?  The only downside was the rain saturated fields courtesy of our recent storms.  A footbridge crossed a lively stream and the path weaved through plantations. Ahead on the horizon was the familiar outline of the Bowland Fells.

Once over a farm access road, my gravelled track started to descend towards the Hodder which could be heard before it was seen. Sheep looked at me as though they rarely saw anybody, mind you they always look like that. And then there I was stood next to the raging river with as I’d guessed a lime kiln built into the hillside. Along the banks were the limestone crags, the raison d’etre of the kiln and the original path. There was another clue as to the path’s continued existence – a small fishing hut and stiles giving access to the river. Lancashire Fly Fishing Association maintain this stretch.

What an idyllic spot on a summers day but at the moment the river is in flood mode and roaring down the valley. I was in a different world down here, the hidden Hodder, and for half an hour or so I watched in awe.

Downstream.

 

Upstream.

Mission completed I retraced my steps up the hill and used the road back to Walker Fold to avoid the worst of the soggy fields. A couple of things to note in this little hamlet of less than a dozen houses. It won the Lancashire’s best kept hamlet competition in 1994 and 2006 and boasts an old School/Chapel with links to The Latter-day Saints movement back in the mid C19th.

Now let’s have a closer look at those maps again…

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 3. LONGRIDGE FELL TO DUNSOP BRIDGE.

Across Chipping Vale.

Here I am back at the trig point on Longridge Fell, it is a beautiful, cold but sunny Autumn day. Sir Hugh has joined the fun and we’ve taken one car to Dunsop Bridge and driven back to park below the fell. I’m sorry we are not keeping to AW’s use of public transport.

A warm-up walk and a catch-up chat soon sees us on the ridge with the compulsory visit to the summit trig. A few people are wandering about up here not wanting to miss the good weather. After a photo session and orientation of distant hills, mainly the Fairsnape ridge, Bowland and the Three Peaks, we find the steep rake dropping down into the Vale of Chipping, spread out below us. Our distant destination of Dunsop Bridge visible in the folds of the fells. This brings us to the road next to the Bradley Hall complex of buildings. WW says to go through the complex but our more modern map says go round the diversion to the left. This is the start of troublesome field navigation for the next mile or so. The waymarks run out, the paths run out, the stiles disappear, the fields get boggier and we are left to our own devices, no fences were damaged, no wires cut when we finally stumbled down a ladder stile onto the road next to Doeford Bridge. I think it took us longer than we realised.

A sign tells us we are entering the Queen’s land which we enjoy for the rest of today

.

This beautiful sandstone bridge spans the Hodder just downstream from where the River Loud joins having come out of Chipping Vale. The bridge is sketched in AW’s Bowland book.

Doeford Bridge. 1981. A Wainwright

There was a good volume of water today after several days of heavy rain. Having crossed another field we dropped down to the Hodder which had looped round a different way.  I wanted to have a look at the stepping stones next to Stakes farm so we made the short diversion, there was no way you could have crossed the river here today. Luckily we found a bench overlooking the river and stopped for lunch.

AW?

Behind us was Stakes Farm an early C17th house with mullioned windows and a plaque in Latin, translation please. Amazingly a brick extension has been built into the angle between the two wings.

We follow fields just above the river. The area between Longridge Fell and the Bowland fells is beautiful and unknown countryside, especially in today’s sunny weather, backed by the dark hills. Across the river used to be a ‘Wild boar park’ but it has closed recently. We cross the road into more fields running above the Whiewell Gorge where the river runs deep in the woods. [It is on the opposite bank that you can find the Fairy Hole caves.] Views into the Bowland Fells surrounding Dunsop Bridge keep us going.

I think we are following one of the aqueducts taking water out of the to industrial Lancashire, the distinctive Waterboard gates accompany us. We drop down past a graveyard and pop out onto the road next to the famous Inn at Whitewell. There is time to have a look into the adjacent Church of St. Michael with its striking stained glass window.  We resisted calling at the inn as time was drifting on and I think once seated it would have been difficult to get going again. A permissive path close to The Hodder leads deeper into Bowland with the next feature sketched by AW – Burholme Bridge.

Above us on the right was the distinctive Birkett Fell scene of one of our recent struggles. Our pace was slowing and instead of the familiar track by the river to Thorneyholme we crossed the pipe bridge, erected by Blackburn Borough Waterboard in 1882. with its unusual turnstile gates at either end. The way along the river was convoluted as we bypassed Root Farm famous for Kettledrum, a Derby winner bred hereabouts. Our arrival into Dunsop Bridge was unfortunately too late to have tea at Puddleducks Cafe.

Dunsop Bridge.   A Wainwright 1981.

We reflected on this wonderful crossing of Chipping Vale, Lancashire at its very best but wondered why 8 miles seemed so far. I was glad I’d divided this stage of WW into two enjoyable days, days to be savoured.

Here is an evening photo of the rake we descended from Longridge Fell early in the day.

Possibly Sir Hugh may have a different view of the day.   http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 1. BLACKBURN TO WHALLEY.

Escaping the city.

My train was full of lively pre-match Blackburn supporters. Most didn’t have tickets and exited the station somehow, I was glad I wouldn’t be on their train after the match. AW was a lifelong Rovers supporter.

Outside the station, as I gathered my bearings I was struck by the number of expensive-looking cars, with modified exhausts and booming stereos, cruising around aimlessly at high speeds. I refrain from comment.

I began the long walk up Audley Range. Mills at the lower end near the canal have gone and been replaced by budget shopping units. From the canal upwards AW would have had almost a mile of two-up, two-down terraced housing. There has been demolition in parts giving little cul-de-sac estates. a mosque and many Asian shops but the higher you get the more you are attuned into AW’s time when he trudged up and down from the centre to number 331, his birthplace and where he lived until 1931 when he married. Until 1935 a tram ran halfway up before going to Queen’s Park.

I couldn’t resist calling in at one of the little Asian ‘Sweet Shops’ to buy a couple of samosas for my lunch.

Fittingly there is a plaque on 331 to commemorate Wainwright though I wonder whether any of the Asian population hereabouts will realise the significance. Opposite his house is an open space formerly a brickworks producing the millions of bricks for the housing and mills.

I reached busy roads on the edge of town. Up here AW attended primary schools, now demolished under ring roads and Tescos. I was glad to turn down to the Leeds – Liverpool Canal at Gorse Bridge. The canal would have been lined by warehouses and mills and here is one of the last, the derelict Imperial Mill once employing 300 until closing eventually in 1958. Many of the mills diversified into minor industries after cotton had crashed.

The canalside walk took me past the Whitebirk Estate, shops and car salerooms, and under the maize of roads connecting with the motorway system. One always sees things differently from a canal and then the next time I drive around these roads I’ll reminisce to myself and try and spot the canal. I ate my samosas as I walked the towpath and realised they had quite a kick to them.

Before long I was in a more rural landscape and leaving the canal to climb steeply up onto the ridge of Harwood Moor. An old bridge is crossed, this is the line of the former Blackburn to Padiham railway. The industrial landscape is left behind and suddenly you have a view of Longridge Fell, the Bowland Hills, Yorkshire peaks and Pendle. It was these northern edges of Blackburn that AW  explored as a youngster and subsequently with work colleagues. A certain Harry Green wrote a regular walking column in the newspaper and produced some guidebooks to the area and into the Ribble Valley and Longridge Fell.  One of AW’s walking companions, Lawrence Wolstenholme, kept a diary of Harry Green inspired walks and his descendants still have a copy of Rambles by Highway, Lane and Field Path. H Green 1920. So it is certain that they walked these trails out of Blackburn.

I entered a farmyard patrolled by a bull and hesitated before rushing to the other side and safety. All the fields up here seemed to contain frisky bullocks so I did a little creative road walking to get me on my way. I was soon on a higher ridge with even more extensive views.

Looking back to Blackburn.

Longridge Fell and the distant Bowland Fells.

Down a reedy path to the Dean Clough Reservoirs with Pendle in the background and then I make my own way up above them to come out onto Moor Lane above Langho, it was only last week that I visited The  Lord Nelson Inn here for lunch. Its a very basic but friendly pub with good beer and a limited home-cooked menu,  a couple came in and asked about dining “have you a gluten-free option?”   “No!” was the simple answer.

I didn’t have time today to call in for a pint but marched off along the virtually traffic-free Moor Lane. At one point I glimpsed a deer eyeing me through the trees. Whalley Nab is at the end of the lane directly above Whalley and the River Calder. The River Calder flows through Whalley to join the Ribble, leaving behind its industrial hinterland where in the distance can be seen the Martholme Viaduct which carried the aforementioned Blackburn to Padiham railway. I had a birds-eye view of the Ribble Valley and Whalley, making out the street plan and the more famous railway viaduct over the Clitheroe – Blackburn line I travelled this morning. The Ribble Valley was one of AW’s many sketchbooks done in later life, Nick Burton has illustrated his text with some of these sketches.  It will be interesting to compare AW’s views with my own as I proceed.

A Wainwright 1980

Before I knew it I was crossing the Calder into the busy main street. The impressive 13thC church was closed. Whilst waiting for my bus I had a very short time to look round the Abbey ruins, free entry today – Heritage Week or something. They deserve more so I’ll return for a longer visit.

 

I’ve finished the first stage of Wainwright’s Way and I’m looking forward to the rural walking to come.

*****

A RURAL RAMBLE FROM BASHALL EAVES.

28 years ago I remember a footpath above the River Hodder coming to an abrupt stop where a bridge was falling down. My son Chris and I were on a backpacking trip around the old Lancashire boundary. We had left Mossley, East of Manchester, and worked our way through high Pennine country, Pendle, Ribble Valley and now we were heading north through Bowland towards Arnside. After getting through the no access, closed and danger barriers we balanced precariously across crumbling masonry high above a stream and carried on our way. Do I have a photo somewhere of that day?  I often wondered what happened to that bridge above Mill Brook. Today I set off to find out.

I parked next to the village hall in Bashall Eaves and set off along a farm track to Mason Green Farm. This turned out to be one of those almost industrial sized complexes. By chance I found a way around it and across fields, full of cows, in the right direction towards Agden Farm which seemed to be a Land Rover hospital. Numerous varieties of the marque were lined up in various states of repair, from a barn there were sounds of restoration.

The overgrown path dropped into a gully, the first of many today, and climbed out steeply on recently installed steps. Somebody must come here. I was now in pastures surrounded by all the familiar fells, Pendle, Longridge Fell and the Fairsnape group. I disturbed a few deer as I dropped into the next gully in Paper Mill Woods. This steep and rather slippery descent took me onto the banks of the River Hodder, full from the last few days’ rain. This is about the only access to the Hodder between Doeford Bridge upstream to Higher Hodder Bridge below. This makes me think that I must be on The Hodder Way a route devised by Clitheroe Ramblers and one I walked in recent times – I have no recollection of this demanding stage.  There was no bridge across the stream but it was no problem to hop across.

Climbing away from the river I pass three magnificent oaks. In the next field of long grass, my only objective is an ash tree on the horizon. Then it is down once more into woods and a difficult descent of a bluff to reach that bridge from years ago, now converted to a wooden structure spanning the stone abutments. There are references to Roman times but I think that is unlikely even though they passed by quite closely. This is a deep ravine, Mill Brook, and the new wooden bridge, rebuilt in 1997, is more impressive than in the photo.

A vague path climbed up through the woods to emerge into fields with open views to the fells. These were crossed and a final dip overcome to reach a track which follows a Roman road, Ribchester to Kirkby Lonsdale. It had taken me two hours to cover three miles and I was ready for a break and a snack.

Onwards I followed the lane to Lees House Farm, now supporting several developments. It’s called diversification. Steep paths lead down to a stream, Mill Brook once again.  Coming up the other side into an overgrown field was not easy if there was a path I didn’t find it.

From here to Micklehurst Farm was straightforward though I managed to herd a lot of sheep in front of me. This morning it had been all cows and now sheep everywhere. Barking dogs, thankfully chained, followed my progress through the farmyard. I’ve passed the road end to Micklehurst Farm many times, I think they are distant relations,  I never realised how far off the road the are.

On the corner is one of the entrances to Browsholme Hall, South Lodge, I sneaked a photo of the gatehouse and cottage.

Now I was onto little-used roads through woodlands some of which are described as nature reserves. I met a couple leisurely ambling down the lane, they had been out birdwatching.

Further on an old Alvis Speed was parked up. It was in fantastic condition. The owner working in a field nearby was obviously proud of the vehicle,1932,  – “all original bodywork”. He admitted that the engine wasn’t firing correctly, hence the bonnet was up for tinkering.

I continued down the lane to reach Saddle Bridge which I mentioned in a recent post.  It is always good to look at things from a different angle and I can’t resist a photo of a packhorse bridge.

Returning back up the path, Rugglesmire is passed, I trespassed a little to try and see the grade II farmhouse.

Into the hamlet of Bashall Eaves, a few cottages with evocative names – The Old School House, The Vicarage, The Old Forge, The Post Office etc.

The Old Forge.

There is also an old Lancashire Cheese press.

Just down the lane is The Red Pump, now a thriving inn/restaurant but it has a dark history. In 1934 a farmer, Jim Dawson, was shot whilst walking home from the pub and died later of his wounds. Investigations were hampered by a “wall of silence” from the villagers and the mystery has never been solved. There is talk of ghosts…..

I usually show a map of my wanderings below and I would suggest that any local readers of my posts try this unknown area. The first half of the walk is particularly scenic and interesting – the best of rural Lancashire, and the paths could with a bit more footfall.

*****

 

TOTRIDGE FELL, BOWLAND.

 Last night after a bouldering session at Craig y Longridge I drove up the fell and took in the familiar view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Hills. In front of me were the Fairsnape, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack and Totridge Fells. How many times have I photographed this scene?  I’ve not been on the easterly of these for several years so there and then I decided on a full traverse of the range today. For every 100 visitors to Fairsnape there is probably only one on Totridge.

I can’t explain why I sat in bed with a couple of coffees delaying my departure. Sloth had taken control and it was with a great deal of difficulty that I finally emerged and started the walk at 11am. By then I realised a full traverse and return of 13 miles or so was impractical and I opted for a shorter 9miles from Saddle End, missing out Fairsnape. The heat of the last few days was diminished by a westerly breeze. Old tracks rise up from Saddle End farm and soon the open moor is reached. A steady metronomic pace is tapped out by my walking poles as I gain ground. There is not a soul in sight.

Saddle End Farm and fell.

On the 26th March 1962 three siblings left home and travelled by bus to Chipping and
walked over the fells, maybe to Langden Castle, on their return over Saddle Fell they were caught in a blizzard which resulted in the two brothers losing their lives due to hypothermia. Their sister survived to raise the alarm at Saddle End Farm. There was no Mountain Rescue Team in the area at that time so police and locals searched with BAC loaning a helicopter to help. Shortly after this tragedy two Mountain Rescue teams were formed in the area, the forerunners of Bowland Pennine MRT.

I mention the above because it is thought the boys may have sheltered in a small stone hut. I remember early walks on Saddle Fell in the 70’s the hut being by the track I’m on today, its roof was almost intact. Now it is a pile of stones but with a tragic history which I recollect every time I pass.
Reaching the wild top of Saddle Fell ignoring the track to Fairsnape I turned east at the watershed to follow the fence towards Totridge seen a couple of miles away. This stretch of fell is usually one of the boggiest in the area, I’ve been pulled out of the depths on one occasion,  deciding which side of the fence is the least hazardous often means crossing repeatedly without any real advantage. Today however the peaty ground was bone dry and I could just enjoy the scenery without any risk of sinking, the wooden poles placed to give buoyancy in wet conditions totally unneeded. [By the way the best ‘path’ is on the left of the fence.]

The views are far stretching over the Bowland area and all the hills and valleys I’ve been walking recently are identifiable. The Yorkshire Three Peaks are in the hazy background. Difficult to capture on camera.

Up here in this bleak wilderness one plant brightened up the peat bogs – the yellow starry flowered Bog Asphodel.

All I had to do was follow the fence, there is one pond to navigate found and a short section above Whitmore where you leave the fence at a tangent and take off into the peat to regain a wall in a short distance before rising onto Totridge and a final open track to the trig point at 496m. The trig pillar is looking decidedly unstable as the peat below it erodes, it will topple before long.

From the top a small path, not marked on the map, heads NE to drop steeply off the fell towards Mellor Knoll. If the correct line is taken zigzags descend quite pleasantly, not so pleasant ascending.  Halfway down today I found a place to sit, eat my sandwiches and contemplate the views over the Dunsop and Hodder valleys. In the distance over Mellor Knoll was a glimpse of Stocks Reservoir I walked around last week and closer at hand, above the Hodder, the tree capped Birkett Fell again climbed recently.

Over Mellor Knoll to Stocks and Yorkshire.

Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle.                                                       

I dropped down to the fell wall and joined the bridleway coming from Hareden which goes into woods of beech and chestnut where I met the first people of the day, three gents enjoying the area.

My way back was on a series of bridleways and paths linking remote farms in the limestone country below the fells. Higher Fence Wood, Dinkling Green and Lickhurst. From the latter the track went further back up into the fells than I remember and I speeded up a little as bad weather was coming in.

Lickhurst Farm.

I used to cycle these ways when my children were getting into mountain biking, I don’t remember these stepping stones by a ford below Burnslack.

I arrived back at the car just as the rain did, my dilatory start almost catching me out.

*****

 

STOCKS RESERVOIR WALK.

A couple of years ago I ended up walking around Stocks Reservoir almost by mistake from Slaidburn and realised too late there was a new path courtesy of NW Water actually crossing the dam wall to complete a shorter circuit. Today along with JD and Sir Hugh we enjoyed this shorter circuit of Stocks Reservoir.

We met up at a lonely spot on the road from Slaidburn to High Bentham. This is one of my favourite routes into Yorkshire, a little further from where we rendezvoused is Cross of Greet Bridge over the infant Hodder and from there the road goes up to a lonely pass between White Hill and Catlow Fell. Then a sweeping descent over the Tatham Fells into High Bentham passing on the way The Great Stone of Fourstones, a glacial erratic, perfect for bouldering on. I digress.

Our remote car park.

We were soon on the well waymarked trail but with no sign of the reservoir. A flagged path through fields took us down to the Hodder where a footbridge has replaced the original stepping stones. I realise all too late that at the centre of my camera lens is a blob of suntan cream – an amateur mistake which will plague me all day.   There is a memorial plaque to a Gil Moorehead for which I can find no information.

Chatting faltered as we climbed the steep slope to the ruins of New House, one of the many farms abandoned when The Fylde Water Board purchased land for water catchment in this valley around the time of WW1. From up here, we had our first sight of Stocks Reservoir which is named after the village of Stocks which disappeared underwater when the dam was built and opened officially in 1932 flooding the valley. The adjacent Gisburn Forest appropriated more farming land. The history of the whole enterprise of constructing the reservoir is detailed on a fascinating website Dalehead and Stocks in Bowland.

As we walked down towards the water a trio of fell runners passed us coming up the hill only to be encountered once again later in the day as they completed their circuit. We agreed that this is a ready-made perfect little run.

The path was varied with sections of woodland and open meadows. The latter were full of flowers at this time of year, orchids, foxgloves and many varieties of grasses.

There are birdwatching hides, and we visited one overlooking the water. Below we could see many geese, cormorants, ducks and gulls but the lists of more proficient ‘twitchers’ were extensive with over 50 species seen some days.

Down at the main car park are the remains of St. James Church which was demolished and rebuilt on higher ground. We speculated on the origin of a nearby spectacular Weeping Beech.

Onwards a new path has been created to avoid the road until we reached the causeway, here mountain bikers swooped out of Gisburn Forest. Immediately we were back on a concessionary path above the reservoir and missed out seeing the resited St. James Chapel. We walked through meadows with good views over the water to the Bowland Fells, little boats carried fishermen to various parts of the Reservoir.

At the dam we crossed over the Hodder culvert and had lunch sat on top of the dam embankment watching fishermen cast into the waters with the occasional catch of rainbow trout.

The café for fishermen didn’t look inviting, so we pushed on.

We were now walking on an old railway line up to a quarry where stone was supplied to the dam construction team.

We were soon back at the cars ready for a slow journey home…

*****

 

 

 

 

DUNSOP VALLEY AND BURN FELL, ANOTHER BOWLAND TOP.

Burn Fell seen on the approach along the Hodder Valley to Dunsop Bridge.

On the 2nd of January 1945, just before I was born, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, an American heavy bomber crashed on Burn Fell. The aircraft was being ferried from Seething in Norfolk to Warton near Preston, most of the passengers were a second aircrew who were going to fly another aircraft back to Seething. The crew had become disorientated in low cloud and snow showers, they obtained a radio fix on Warton and the pilot turned onto the appropriate heading to get to Warton and while flying at just 1500ft the aircraft flew into the top of Burn Fell, slewed round demolishing a stone wall and bursting into flames. Most of the aircraft was reduced to ashes, fortunately of the 19 aircrew onboard 15 of them survived the crash and subsequent fire. People from farms below the crash site came to rescue the survivors from the snowy hillside with makeshift stretchers and human strength.

I  passed the site of this disaster on today’s walk in Bowland.

A bright sunny morning, and I was parked up in Dunsop Bridge before most people had stirred. The walk up into the Dunsop Valley is familiar and the water board road gives access to both the Brennand and Whitendale valleys, with the hill of Middle Knoll [not to be confused with nearby Mellor Knoll] between them. Where the roads split there is a small footbridge across the river which takes you onto a track up into Whitendale above the water.

Middle Knoll.

At Costy Clough the track gives way to a narrow path, This is delightful walking with the hills beckoning ahead whilst the water tumbles below. The farm at Whitendale comes into view, part of the royal Duchy Estate. By now I was in fairly remote hill country and using trods through the heather, A sign post erected by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society showed my options just above Whitendale Farm. I’ve never quite known who they are. From this area I had a view to the southern face of Middle Knoll and was surprised to see how steep and rocky it looked. The lambs around here looked almost newborn, very unsteady on their legs. A zig zagging track started to climb out of the valley onto Dunsop Fell, mainly to visit some shooting butts, but it gave me an easy way up to the watershed especially as the peat was less squelchy than usual. Suddenly there were people ahead of me, I caught them up at the top as they took in the views. A family group from Wigan who seemed to know the area well. Oh, and here is another one of those signs. Where the three went down I contoured and found a path of sorts leading to the trig point on Burn Fell, 431 m. Over to the east were the Three Peaks, Yorkshire’s finest. Below was Stocks Reservoir, Waddington Fell with its mast and behind that the big end of Pendle. I followed the wall past the trig with Totridge Fell ahead and the Hodder Valley stretching out towards Longridge Fell, these Bowland Fells group themselves closely together, I could clearly see the line of my Longridge Skyline Walk coming off Totridge Fell, over Mellor Knoll down to the Hodder, over Birkett Fell to Waddington Fell before dropping to recross the Hodder and finish over Longridge Fell.

Over to Yorkshire with Stocks Reservoir.

A few 100 m past the summit I came across the remains of the B-24, bits of molten metal and glass. A cross has been erected and there is a stone memorial to the four airmen who lost their lives.

A track of sorts through the boggy heather slowly brought me off the fell and down a grassy rake towards Beatrix Farm. It was here that I started to encounter boxes/tunnels designed to trap stoats etc. as I neared pheasant breading copses. Inside each box was a strong spring-loaded trap. I’m not sure of the legality of these traps as any prey would suffer a horrible death. The remains of a ?rabbit in one showed that they are not regularly checked. It was surprisingly how vicious they were when a stone was accidentally dropped onto a trap.

A lane down into Dunsop Bridge gave easy walking after the rough stuff on the fells. Bluebell woods welcomed me into the hamlet at the centre of the Isles. Cups of tea at the café beckoned before my drive home. Today I had seen or heard wagtails, skylarks, oyster catchers, cuckoos, curlews, buzzards and whilst getting into the car a dipper on the stream below.*****

 

 

 

 

 

MELLOR KNOLL AND THE HODDER.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll from Burholme Bridge at the start of the walk.

Mellor Knoll is a 344m lump in Bowland, I didn’t actually climb it but I came close.

I was in my dormouse mode this morning and stayed in bed with my second coffee looking at maps whilst the day warmed up. Eventually, I stirred and drove out to park at Burholme Bridge on the River Hodder. Early morning cyclists were already returning from their Trough of Bowland circuit, a popular ride with Lancashire cyclists: one of the most prominent I met later in the day. I last cycled it 5 years ago.

A quiet lane leads up into the limestone area of Bowland with its Reef Knolls and caves.  A footpath brought me onto the farm track to Whitmore, a lonely farm at the base of Totridge Fell. In the past there were free-range hens wandering about although today the scattered wooden hen-houses looked deserted.

 

Welcoming committee.

A bridleway takes off towards the woods on a track that was always muddy but tree felling has opened up the landscape and things are improved. This bridleway cuts through between the cone of Mellor Knoll and the parent fell of Totridge. Contouring the hillside was a joy with bluebells and fresh green beech leaves; views down to the snaking Hodder and the little known Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle; towering above me was Totridge Fell with stone walls going straight up the steep slopes.

With all this excitement I wandered off course at the col and was heading the wrong way into Hareden Valley, it wouldn’t have mattered on this open ground but I traversed back to the correct track. Up here the hardy sheep only seem to have one lamb as opposed to their lowland softies with twins and triplets. Oh and this is how to mend a wall…

I was now looking down on the farms of Hareden with the Trough of Bowland in the background. The hounds at the farm always give you a greeting long before you arrive.

Crossing Hareden Brook [dippers were seen] and then Langden Brook brought me onto a short stretch of The Trough of Bowland road.

Looking up the ‘Trough’ road.

I followed this for a short way before I could continue across fields to the water board road following the River Dunsop past cottages to the hamlet.

I’m sure these weren’t designed for outdoor seating.

Mellor Knoll above the new houses in Dunsop Bridge.

This is a popular walking area and lots of families were out enjoying the sunny weather and the delights of Dunsop Bridge hamlet – often cited as the geographic centre of Great Britain, although different measurements give different results. I passed the BT phone box which celebrates this fact.

A line of tall pines leads to Thornyholme Hall and farm over a bridge on the Hodder. The last time I passed here in 2013 a chain saw artist was just beginning rendering a stump into a statue of the thinking man and the results were seen today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lovely stretch along the River Hodder, ducks and their ducklings were swimming by the bridge and further on I watched sand martins going back and forth to their holes in a sandbank. If you click and enlarge the photo I actually caught some of them in flight and at the nest entrances. It was on this stretch I met an elderly couple walking towards me on a short river ramble, somehow the conversation turned to cycling and it transpired that the 80yr old gent was Dave Brown. He had been a prominent racing cyclist with impressive time trial results over all distances, only retiring after he had passed 70yrs. https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/3829912.east-lancashire-cyclist-retires-after-53-years/  He told me he had written a weekly cycling column in the Lancashire Telegraph for 40 years until they recently decided to scrap it!  We swapped tales of cycling in the past, what a lovely chance encounter.

Soon I was back at Burholme Bridge having completed an interesting, if modest, 7 mile circuit feeling privileged to be living within this beautiful Bowland area.

 

*****

 

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 4 – A sunny Longridge Fell.

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

Higher Hodder Bridge to Longridge.

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

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

Higher Hodder Bridge.

Climbing Kemple End, Pendle in the background.

Layers coming off.

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

Magic light amongst the trees.

There is a way through.

More uprooted trees.

That viewpoint.

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

Radio ham.

Well deserved lunch with a little Brexit chat.

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

Heading down with Parlick and Fairsnape in the distance.

When it all started.

Present day signage.

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

*****

THE TOLKIEN TRAIL.

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

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

… and came up with The Tolkien Trail.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 3 – the two rivers.

Chatburn to Hodder Bridge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*****