One never knows when there could be a cloud inversion up on the fell. Last year I experienced a couple of almost perfect days up there.
The gloom down here is all-pervading. I struggle to do the daily Wordle, drinking coffee in bed. The morning is slipping away. My lane is closed to traffic at the moment for a new gas pipeline. So all peace and quiet until the gas people start drilling away outside my house. One can’t switch off easily to pneumatic drilling, so I have to get up, the rest of the week I hadn’t bothered. High pressures at this time of year gives dry and windless days but once the cloud is down it stays that way forever.
I should have taken my bike to Halton and cycled the usual way through Morecambe along the bay. But somehow I hadn’t the motivation. Taking the easy way out I decided to head up the fell. The short drive up there in mist didn’t bode well for views. I must avoid as much as possible long drives for walks next year, for the planet and my purse. It’s always next year. Parked up I was surprised by the number of cars already there.
My short walk to the summit and back was punctuated by several conversations with fellow walkers.
There were the dog walkers, lots of them, with energetic spaniels. Hardly stopping for a sniff at me, the dogs I mean, but all enthusiastic to be out whatever the weather. All very friendly. The weather was actually better than expected, no wind and almost a decent cloud inversion over Chipping Vale. Not good enough for photos.
A couple were steaming up behind me, they recognised me, I struggled to place them initially. Friends from my lad’s school days, played in my garden and remembered me climbing up my house walls. It was great to catch up and how lovely to see how mature and pleasant people are, we are a friendly lot in Longridge, but all is changing. That gas pipe is for the hundreds of houses being built in our once tight-knit community.
The next encounter was with the fell ponies which sometimes appear. Sturdy equines milling around the trig point.
The fairy or is it an angel has appeared on the fell Christmas tree, it needs a few more baubles.
I stop once again for a conversation with an ascending hiker “I’m only 85 he declares” The fell is for everybody as he disappears into the mist. Let’s hope I’m still coming up here in the next decade and the younger walkers will stop and encourage me onwards.
It’s time I did my irregular litter pick up here, there were lots of doggy poo bags and discarded tissues to remove. Maybe tomorrow if this depressing cloud persists. it must be better than the world football on TV.
A rather sad reminder of how we all did lock down. Or is it an omen for our fractured society?
It is still foggy down in Longridge, and they are still digging up the road. I drag my rusty exercise bike from the garage to the kitchen though I doubt it will be my salvation.
A walk I must have done dozens of times. I was looking for a short flattish walk to test out my knee. Walk 22 in the Cicerone guidebook fitted the bill, and I was anticipating the woods full of bluebells. It turned out to be a day of bright sunshine but with a violent wind out of the east.
The Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green was busy with the sunny weekend weather. I didn’t use their car park but found a spot in the village near the war memorial. Lambing Clough Lane took me down past the C17th Trough House (they have a fetish for weighing scales) to the new Dinckley bridge over the River Ribble. The river was running low with the exposed pebbly beaches accessible.
This stretch seemed to be popular with dog walkers today – but doesn’t everyone own a dog or two now. Entering Marles Wood the path threads between the trees often awkwardly over the exposed roots. The bluebells were only just starting, but there was a good display of Wood Anemones and the Lesser Celandines were hanging on. The new beech leaves were the greenest of greens.
One of the problems with this circuit is the kilometre of road walking from Salesbury Hall to Ribchester bridge. The road however was quiet and my attention was directed to the wayside plants. The blooms of the Blackthorn are fading to be replaced by the emerging Hawthorn. Yellow Dandelions and white Dead Nettles covered the verges. Soon I was crossing the elegant bridge which has seen some recent damage from vehicles.
Onwards past the farm and into the riverside woods where flood debris is always piled up, but thankfully someone has been collecting the plastics. Unfortunately the right of way leaves the river, what a shame – if only access could have been obtained all the way back to Dinckley Bridge. I have in the past persisted in trespassing alongside the river but remember it being difficult. On this day in 1932, hundreds of folk marched on the famous Kinder Scout protest, and we are approaching a time when we may need to resist the Tory’s crackdown on our access to land.
I’ve always found navigating the fields here a bit of a challenge and Mark’s directions didn’t really help. The bluebells in the woods at Starling Brook compensated for my previous disappointment. Wild garlic was also showing well, I must pick some for a delicious meal with poached egg.
There are good views of Pendle and the Ribble Valley from these hills. With luck, I arrived at the bridge over Dean Brook, the stream I followed to find Raven Lumb Falls last April.
A steep climb led back to Lambing Clough Lane and into Hurst Green.
As an aside on the way home I spotted another of those evocative slate poems next to St. John’s Church. Poignant thoughts.
Anyone wanting to follow this walk could shorten it by parking at Marles Wood and avoid the loop into Hurst Green.
In less than 20 minutes it is reported that 241 died and 392 lay wounded from the 700-strong Accrington Pals battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July1st1916. Lord Kitchener was responsible for devising ‘Pals’ battalions from the same neighbourhood so that recruits could fight alongside their friends. Unfortunately, when there was a massacre, losses were concentrated on single towns. Accrington was one such town. More of that later – but first I have a hill to climb, Great Hameldon, another chapter from Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone book.
I have parked up just below Peel Park and find my way up woodland paths to the view point and Peel Monument. The crowded streets of Accrington slowly retreat down below. There is also an unexpected trig point up here on the Northern rim. I then follow the edge of the hill around above the A56 speeding though the gap below, a road familiar to me with the quarried walls either side. There is a way under the carriageway and I head up to, but circle around and above, the farm onto Moleside Moor. Behind a wall are a couple of ‘slate poems’ but I think from a different pen than the ones around Longridge. Rough ground and then bog bring me to the base of Great Hameldon for that steep ascent to the trig point. I’m not sure whether I have been here before. All is space with extensive views, unfortunately hazy despite the bright sunshine and strong wind. Pendle always dominates, and away to the East is the weather station on Hameldon Hill. There is nobody else up here except the skylarks, singing above me.
From the trig, a vague path takes me south to a wall next to an ancient well. //thejournalofantiquities.com/2015/03/01/mary-hoyle-well-hyndburn-moor-lancashire/
Strangely, a reservoir to the right has been decommissioned. Then I’m on a sunken bridleway passing through a quarried landscape. I have to get across the busy A56 before following a golf course to find myself in a housing estate. The guidebook sees me through this maze, out through Lounds Wood and into Haworth Park below the House which serves as an art gallery.
This brings me to the second part of my post. A friend visited the Haworth Gallery recently and commented on their unique collection of Tiffany Glass, all unknown to me. Time for a visit, this walk happens to come this way – how convenient.
The Haworths were successful mill owners and William had Hollins Hill, now the Haworth, built in a Tudor style, by Walter Brierley in 1909. He lived there with his sister, but died in 1913, followed by his sister in 1920. The house and its collection of paintings and antiquities were bequeathed to the people of Accrington. It has remained a gallery ever since, with preservation and restorations over the years.
The link to Tiffany is through a Joseph Briggs, born in Accrington in 1873 and until he was 18 worked as an engraver in his father’s Calico printworks. He then emigrated to America and in due course was employed at the Louis Comfort Tiffany glass works, famous for innovative art nouveau design. Briggs did well at Tiffany’s and when Tiffany retired in 1919 Joseph was in charge of Tiffany Studios producing windows, mosaics and lamps. Fashions changed, and the company faltered in 1932. Tiffany died in 1933 leaving Briggs to dispose of unwanted stock, throwing much of it away. But then he started sending some of the finest pieces over to Accrington.
Joseph Briggs died in New York on 28 March 1937, aged 64. Originally the collection was displayed in Oak Hill Museum but later sent to the Haworth Gallery only to be packed away during the Second World War. It was only in 1976 that this world-famous collection of Tiffany Glass went on show again.
The house itself is imposing, with views across the valley to Great Hameldon and my morning’s route. The grounds are extensive, and apparently the rose garden has to be seen in season. But today I am more interested with the interior; wood panelled rooms, feature fireplaces, a curving staircase. A welcome from the friendly staff, and I’m off to their in-house café for a coffee. This seems a popular meeting place for lunch, the plates all looked very appetising.
Revived, I commence my tour of the Tiffany Collection. The history and techniques were fully documented, and the variety and styles of glass was amazing. Only later did I notice that photography was not allowed. In any case the shades, different lustres and forms of the glass have to be appreciated directly. The collection filled rooms on the ground floor and spread up to the next floor. The elegance of the rooms fitted well with Tiffany’s artistry.
Also up here was an exhibition of watercolours in the corridor and oils in one of the adjacent rooms. These were the work of a Paddy Campbell and depicted scenes from the local moorlands. Some robust, larger oils were very impressive, interpreting the wildness and lighting perfectly. He has definitely been out there capturing the magic. This temporary exhibition had just opened and the artist himself was wandering around, all too pleased to expand on his canvases.
Before leaving, I visited in the grounds an Accrington Pals Memorial, which brings me back to my introduction to this post. This is a replica of one in Serre (built with Accrington Bricks), on the site of the battle of the Somme.
Farther down into town, I came into Oak Hill Park, where on the highest point was a war memorial erected in 1922. Tablets name 865 fallen from World War I and additionally 170 from World War II. One further name has been added, for Northern Ireland, and two from the Falklands Campaign.
Soon I was in the centre of Accrington and its grand stone Victorian buildings from the cotton era, where next to the church was a further smaller memorial (2002) to the Accrington Pals and other Lancashire regiments losses.
I had a slow trudge back up through the streets to find my car.
I came out today and climbed the fell to try and capture a suitable photo for my season’s greetings. Maybe a robin, maybe a patch of snow or some holly berries or even a man in a Santa hat. No, I have failed, as you can see from my photo above. All was grey and gloomy.
It’s been that sort of week. Most days I didn’t venture out into the raw weather. I was kept busy wrapping presents and mulling over wine. Making lists and peeling vegetables. Phoning distant friends not seen for months, even years. Avoiding the crowded last minute shopping. Enduring lateral flow tests and crossing fingers, already two of my grandchildren will be absent from the festivities. So this is Christmas.
One bright spot today was a repainted slate poem in a cupboard with a humorous line – which made me smile.
Today I went out to try and improve the route by avoiding too many main roads and keeping outside the circle of ever-increasing hosing developments. I also had a new camera which I wanted to play with, it has far too many features for me to come to terms with quickly.
What a beautiful Easter Monday, blue skies, lots of sunshine and a cold wind. Perfect. Well not quite – they have taken out all the hedges on a new development. Our slate artist has summed it up nicely on a Hedge Sparrow triptych. [Richard Price – see transcript at end of post.]
I linked up with the route on Pinfold Lane where several parties were scanning the wetlands with binoculars.
I had a brief look, there is a digger in the background, and carried on my way down towards Bury’s Farm. A farmer was rolling his field – a picture from the past.
I found a better, more rural, route around Alston and on across the main road. I found my way through peoples drives and gardens back into fields before picking up the old rail Preston – Longridge line and onto home ground. The blackthorn and cherries were blossoming.
It has been a walk of contrasts – trying to balance the rural with the creeping urbanisation. It’s time for the hills.
You don’t see many hedges these days, and the hedges you do see they’re not that thorny, it’s a shame, and when I say a hedge I’m not talking about a row of twigs between two lines of rusty barbed wire, or more likely just a big prairie where there were whole cities of hedges not fifty years ago, a big desert more like, and I mean thick hedges, with trees nearby for a bit of shade and a field not a road not too far off so you can nip out for an insect or two when you or the youngsters feel like a snack, a whole hedgerow system, as it says in the book, and seven out of ten sparrows say the same, and that’s an underestimate, we want a place you can feel safe in again, we’re social animals, we want our social life back, and the sooner the better, because in a good hedge you can always talk things over, make decisions, have a laugh if you want to, sing, even with a voice like mine!
I’ve struggled to put a post together this week, in fact I’ve struggled to do much at all. Are we all getting burnout? This afternoon I went on a wake-up walk around the village.
There is a new shop opened, ‘Bowland Organics’, the clue is in the name. It is getting good reviews for the freshness of its vegetables and other local produce. Most days the artisan bread is sold out within hours, as it should be. It is closed by the time I walk by, so you will have to wait for my opinion.
Just up the road, Berry Lane, I see that one of the slate poems has been smashed, not simply broken but obviously vandalised into many pieces. I’ve been commenting on and photographing these poems since they started appearing almost a year ago. See here,there and everywhere. All were chosen to give hope and enlightenment in our troubled times, and I’ve found inspiration from them in my local wanderings. I’m sad at the sight but then notice that against the tree another poem has appeared, this time by Emily Dickinson.
As it was.
The new slate.
My last post had a heading photo of nearby Hope Lane so lets all hope for the better.
Halfway up the steep Birk’s Brow lane I stopped for a breath; there was little to see in the murk, my mind had switched off a mile back, I was not even sure why I was there. Had I come to my Covid lockdown impasse? Had the repetition and boredom caught up with me? Was there a way out from this pandemic? I was taken aback by this negativity that had suddenly descended upon me. Was my hope fading? I had imagined I’d been coping well with all the setbacks and heartaches of the last year but was this the reckoning I had to face? Too many questions for which I couldn’t find an answer. I moved on in a cloud of my own making.
I have mentioned in several posts the poems written on old slates that have appeared around Longridge during these troubled times. Uplifting themes and thoughts for us all to share. I often wondered who was the artist of these calligraphic verses. Well around the corner a lady pulled up in her car and proceeded to pick up the cracked slate there. “Do you know ?… are you the person ?…” I’d stumbled on the originator of all these slate poems. She had started with one and then been encouraged to do more with friends recommending poems. I was overjoyed to speak to the lady.
My day was saved, and I walked on through Longridge with a spring in my step.
The frost and snow have gone, for now. Today is misty and murky, I can’t even see the fell from my house. I had a low level walk planned along the roads back to Grimsargh for another look at the wetlands, today would be ideal. On the way I dropped off an apple crumble for my friend in Brabiner Lane, he wasn’t in so will find it hopefully on his doorstep later. Brabiner Lane is renowned for its twisty narrowness and is best avoided in a car. With little traffic at present I crept carefully around its bends. I passed the embankment where there had been a bridge for the branch railway line to the old Whittingham Hospital mentioned in the above post. It was depressing to see so much litter along the verges. More new housing was going ahead at the entrance to Grimsargh Green.
Welcome to Grimsargh.
I chatted to a friend on the Green about our Covid vaccinations – the hot topic at the moment, She has managed to get two, I have mine on Sunday hopefully.
When I explored the ‘wetlands’, redundant reservoirs, a couple of weeks ago they were frozen over, and I didn’t find my way to the viewing hide. Today I found the gate leading to the hide – it was locked [Covid precautions] but I managed to climb over and enter the reserve. Very impressive. At least this time there was open water with a few ducks, geese and coots paddling about. I walked on to the bridge separating the mere from the reed beds and was able to see lapwings roosting on the misty island. My camera is not good enough to pick them out. Whilst here a gentleman from Longridge appeared with his binoculars and we exchanged observations. He used to be a postman and still walks miles every day, our paths often cross.
I walked back along the busy main road and the only other thing to note is the discovery of yet another of those ‘slate poems’ propped up on a tree, They have appeared during this pandemic, which is almost a year’s duration, and are usually reflective and uplifting. On the other side of the tree some less artistic wag has left this offering…
The sun never came out, it was as misty when I arrived home as when I had left.
Over the Christmas period I’ve strived to fit some exercise in most days amongst the over-indulgences, though the latter have been few this strange season. Overnight there has been a light dusting of snow and by the time I get out the sun is shining brightly. I use different lanes through Thornley-with-Wheatley to gain the usual Longridge Fell circuit. I have to brave the fast traffic for a short distance past The Derby Arms until a pavement is gained passing Lee House Church where I head onto the fell using little lanes going up Birk’s Brow. I’m now able to relax although I have to watch the icy patches.
Thornley Horse Trough.
Wheatley Farm. 1774.
People are met going up past the golf course and the car park at Cardwell is the busiest I’ve ever seen it with excess cars parked along the road for a considerable distance. I had forgotten it was a Bank Holiday, not that it matters to me. All the way up I’ve had views across the Vale of Chipping to the snowy Bowland Fells.
Down to The Newdrop where there is still one of those apt slate poems to be read. Onwards on the switchback road to Longridge. The top reservoir looking decidedly cold in the fading light and the snow was slowly thinning on the hills. I passed JD running up the fell on his training schedule, but I was soon back for an early supper. That was an easy walk an even easier write-up.
On many of my local walks up on Longridge Fell since the pandemic started I highlighted the uplifting poems written on slate and scattered about the region. I still do not know the originator of these pieces of art. Each one has been chosen for its content – nature and the environment; humanity, compassion and hope.
Today I have a stroll around the village itself to discover even more poems.
When I wrote about Longridge in March it was virtually a ghost town, but time has moved on, we have relaxed and ventured out shopping again. The coffee shops have a new lease of life. Today in the blue sky and sunshine the streets were busy, but with many people wearing their masks between shops. A new normal as the infection rate rises? The virus’s hand is on our shoulder warning us of a bleak Winter to come. In that context the poems take on a life of their own – interpret them as you wish, but we should embrace their optimism.
The latest slates in no particular order…
There may be more painted slates lying unnoticed in the village, I’ll keep looking. I think we may need their solace in the months to come.
On my walk I had a song constantly nagging at my mind …
I have read of five 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 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, 5 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.
Hague’s 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.
Woodward’s Cross base is close by above the Stonyhurst swimming pools in the Hodder. Both these crosses are said to be memorials for young Jesuits who drowned in the river.
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.
Park Cross 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.
Hurst Green Cross in a garden off 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 nine 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 Woodward’s Cross close to the river. It is not marked on the modern 1:25,000 map but I later find is shown on the 1894 edition.
The path climbs again and at the top of the steps, I see the Hague’sCross.
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 StonyhurstPark 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/
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 Hurst Green Cross hidden behind an Acer, a short cross on a large base. Can you see it?
Dutton, like Mitton, is a scattered community, a few houses here and there. It is bounded on the south by the River Ribble and stretches high up onto Longridge Fell.
This evening, recently the days have been showery but the evenings sunny, I wanted to explore again the gorge-like Duddel Brook which runs through the middle of Dutton. Since I was last here I have read a little more and found some old maps of the area necessitating another visit to examine the Dutton mill remains. On one map it is labelled as a Bone MIll which suggests to me grinding bones to manufacture bone meal but another source implies a combing mill, comb as in cotton spinning rather than hair care. Perhaps it was both at different periods. Whatever, there is a weir, a mill race or leat, a millpond and a wheelhouse to be discovered.
My path through fields is clear and soon I enter the wooded valley and come across the wheelhouse. Above is a large mill pond partially silted in. From there I can trace a mill race above the stream to a weir where the water was diverted. All very plain to see.
Weir and start of the race.
My way onwards up the valley crossed a footbridge and climbed high on the western bank before dropping back down near a waterfall where the water was forded, there were no stepping stones. All very delightful.
Back out in open fields hares dashed away in front of me. I came out onto the main road near the junction with Gallows Lane. One of the ‘slate poems’ that have appeared during lockdown was propped up here.
I crossed the road to a driveway and followed it down past the barking dog at Grindlestone [grind stone] Farm. The track was bordered by an old iron railing usually the sign of an estate boundary. If I had continued I would have come onto the Ribble Way into Hurst Green but I turned off at an unsigned and apparently little used bridleway.
From up here, there were views down to the River Ribble at Sales Wheel. I found it difficult to find the way through the copses but then picked up white markers taking me to the Ribble through Dewhurst Farm with its piles of logs for firewood.
A nice little path through meadows brought me out onto Gallows Lane near those picturesque cottages of Lower Dutton. The origin of the name of the lane possibly goes back to the days when serious miscreants were tried at the town courthouse in the White Bull, Ribchester, and taken to gallows at the upper end of the lane, A sobering thought for maybe stealing a sheep.
I found this slate poem tonight, the latest one I’ve come across on Longridge Fell during this Covid pandemic.
Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh.
Sometimes things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail, sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war; elect an honest man, decide they care enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor. Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss, sometimes we do as we meant to. The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.
I was at the far end of the fell, once more seeking solitude. Dark clouds were gathering and I set off up a sidetrack more in hope than optimism. I was not very optimistic about staying dry but I hoped I would. One can be pessimistic but hopeful at the same time. The above poem, by Sheenagh Pugh, expresses similar ideas I think.
It was only a short walk to clear my head, there were some large drops of rain for a short time but I was back at the car before the forecast storm. A triumph of hope over optimism.
The slow progress out of this pandemic is of concern to me especially as lockdown is being lifted quickly without good medical evidence. There are still a significant number of daily deaths and the magic R number is struggling to stay under 1. Boris wants us all to go shopping next week, that shows where his priorities lie – certainly not with the vulnerable in our society.
My optimism for a successful outcome is dwindling – I will just have to hope from now on.
Eddie Waring commentated in his thick Yorkshire accent on Rugby League games in the ’60s and ’70s, one of his utterings “it’s an up and under” became almost a catchphrase. Planning this evening’s walk I wanted to push myself a little to see if my breathing had improved. For about a month or so I became breathless with the slightest of exertions which was rather disturbing, a persistent cough did not fill me with confidence either. I had a feeling I was on the mend so I needed some uphill walking. I had Eddie’s phrase at the back of my mind when I decided on an up and over walk across Longridge Fell. I’ve survived about 1000ft of ascent without too much stopping so I consider it a success.
The start of the up was on the south side of the fell, the over took me down the north side which left me with another up and over to complete the evening. The evening turned out sunny and calm with clear views in all directions, perfect walking conditions.
Although I’m trying my best to isolate myself from humanity and the lurking virus a few chance encounters enlivened the walk.
A few hundred yards through the rapidly growing plantation brings one to a little beck, Brownslow Brook. This is a favourite place of mine where the water tumbles out of the trees under a couple of wooden bridges before disappearing once again to emerge at the road to head down to Hurst Green as Dean Brook. I crossed it several times on my last outing. I often brought my boys here for dam building practice and have continued the ritual with my grandchildren. Tonight a couple were throwing sticks into the water for their Spaniel to retrieve, they were trying to wash off the dirt he had gathered from falling into a peat bog earlier. All three of them seemed to be enjoying the game.
Steeper climbing followed passing my favourite Beech tree.
Above the path winds upwards through recently felled land and someone has been at work creating a mountain bike track with curves and jumps incorporated, it looked great fun.
On cresting the ridge you enter thicker mature woodland where in the past I have enjoyed several nights wild camping. I was aiming for the path going off the fell when I heard thumping noises just below. I ventured into the trees to investigate and found three pleasant young lads creating a steep downhill MB track. They were hard at work with spades and rakes. What a contrast to the youths inundating and despoiling our other beauty spots on recent weekends. I wished them well and will check on their progress next time I’m passing.
I found my own less steep rake going down the north side of the fell. It was an utter delight with the Vale of Chipping spread out below and the Bowland Hills in the background. [Header photo] Easy walking took me past Rakefoot Farm and out onto the Chaigley Road. I only had to walk a couple of hundred yards before a footpath sign pointed the way for my next up and over. This path had not been walked very often and degenerated into an assault course through nettles and brambles. Just when I thought I’d overcome the worst it turned into more of a stream than a path. My attention wandered to the flora beneath my feet and I was impressed by some of the smallest flowers I’ve seen. Minute water forget-me-nots and an unidentified even tinier chickweed type flower. Trying to photo them with my phone was another matter.
At last, I was back on the open fell and climbing a definite rake without undue breathlessness. Once again there were minute flowers beneath my feet, one of the Bedstraws.As I had had enough ascent I did not feel the need to divert the short distance to the trig point. I did have time for one last backward view of Chipping Vale Bathed in the evening light. I then crossed the ridge and headed back into the forest for the downhill bit. The forest seemed empty and I made good progress on familiar tracks.
That was until I was further down and I came across the aftermath of last week’s forest fire. I was uncertain as to its whereabouts until now. Fire breaks had been created to prevent the fire from spreading. What a valiant effort from the firefighters otherwise the whole of the forest could have been lost. I chatted to a local who was also investigating the scene, we are not sure that the cause has been identified yet.
On the way home I came across another of those inspiring poems inscribed on a slate that someone has been leaving around the fell.
“This is the time to be slow, Lie low to the wall Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let The wire brush of doubt Scrape from your heart All sense of yourself And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous, Time will come good; And you will find your feet Again on fresh pastures of promise, Where the air will be kind And blushed with beginning.”
At the end of the walk I felt I’d found my feet and the air was kind.
Yesterday my plan was to wait until early evening before venturing out. It’s a nice time of day and there should be fewer people about. Now that I’ve been out once in the car to reach Longridge Fell for a walk I hoped to go further.
Every parking place on the southern side of the fell was packed, with cars alongside the roads.
I lost heart and drove home.
But before I threw in the towel I discovered another three ‘slate poems’ propped up at the popular spots. They seem to keep appearing as if by magic and each one has a beautifully written verse reflecting our environment and possibly our predicament.
Thank you whoever you are.
Tonight’s three –
What is the name
of the deep breath I would take
over and over
for all of us? Call it whatever you want, it is
My horizon for the last two months has been the fields at the back of my house with the Bowland Fells in the background. I stayed in completely for the first four weeks or so and then only ventured out at quiet times on circumscribed local footpaths and lanes. The advice on lockdown changed for all of us, not just Dominic Cummings, a week or so ago. Hence the rush to the tourist hotspots and what looked to me like civil disorder. I was in no rush to follow.
Today I had a little job to do on the edge of the village, pin up a notice from the BMC relating to Covid19 risks on the gate leading into Craig Y Longridge, the local bouldering crag. So out came the car for the first time in weeks for a trip up there. The notice was in place but I for one won’t be going there to climb for some time as it is just like an indoor climbing wall with social distancing difficult and repeated use of the same holds by one and all.
Anyhow as I was out I thought I would drive further up the fell to a quiet parking spot, away from the bank holiday crowds, for a short walk with a change of scenery.
I parked by the temporarily closed New Drop Inn and for awhile watched the house martins flying back and forth to their nests under the eaves. I’m not sure whether I managed a photo or not with my snap and shoot camera.
The best I could do.
A little way down the road a footpath sign pointed into a field. From the map, the path crosses the field diagonally but the grass was very long and nobody had ventured across. I decided instead to follow the top boundary where there had been a tractor. All went well and gates gave access to more fields until I was stopped by barbed wire which was easily circumvented to put me onto the right of way. This was no clearer but I kept finding broken stiles and gates leading to the industrial/agricultural buildings of Hougher Fall Farm, now restyled romantically as Bowland Forest Eggs. I made my escape to the Old Clitheroe Road. it had taken me over half an hour to walk half a mile but I’d enjoyed the exploration.
No obvious path.
Make your own way.
Back on track?
I remembered a track going off left from near here past an old reservoir. The gate was just down the road and propped up next to it a slate with a lovely handwritten poem by a Kathleen Jamie which I rather liked.
Through the gate and just off the track is the little reservoir where I watched a pair of Canada Geese paddling across the water with their six chicks. I was watching them when a female pheasant walked by with a couple of chicks.
Across rough ground were some grassed over quarries, marked on the map as Gannow Quarry. I imagined I’d spotted a climbable rock face but when I’d walked up to investigate it was only six feet high. I assume these small quarries were opened up for the reservoir construction.
Lennox Farm is being knocked about and extended. I’d reached the lane going up to the kennels and onto Longridge Fell, I was feeling breathless, hayfever? and I almost aborted the walk by turning downhill back to the road. Something made me turn left and carry on up onto the fell, puffing all the way. It was worth it for the hazy views over the Ribble Valley and the mature pines.
I met the first people of the day on the edge of the forest. Three mountain bikers up from Preston who seemed totally oblivious to the present crisis – “nothing to worry about mate”
Walking down by the fell wall I stopped to listen to my first cuckoo of the year and a finch? landed on the wall in front of me.
Back at the Newdrop I came across another poem slate this time a poem of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Are there more about? There seems to be an environmental theme possibly related to our present viral problems. I will keep my eyes open for them.
A strange walk really, I just followed my nose and pottered along taking in whatever came by and more came along than expected. Yet another Covid-19 local walk of exploration and enlightenment.