Tag Archives: Walking.

A QUIET SUNDAY.

Sunday  17th January.    7.5 miles.     Goosnargh.

   Bear with me, if anything interesting happens on one of these local walks from home I will let you know. Today was a grey day and I left Longridge at noon to wander some lanes and footpaths between here and Goosnargh.

  I met a lady who was incensed that a dog had scratched her piece of lawn on the roadside, it looked innocuous to me. I suspect she would not be a good neighbour. A cyclist passed me on Ashley Lane. I left the road at Stump Cross and walked through the egg factory of Field Foot Farm and then on through boggy fields towards the church in Goosnargh.

Another quiet lane with horse riders led on to Broadeth Lane and then Ford Lane. I dread to think what this would be like if it was up to the 6-foot level. New House Farm is possibly one of the oldest in the district. The Cottage restaurant is a throw back to the 50s, prawn cocktails, chicken in a basket and sherry trifle. I diverted to have a look at Hill Chapel, another RC established from the C18th and run for many years by Franciscan and then Benedictine monks. There is some history at – http://www.stfrancisgoosnargh.org.uk/  Walking around the graveyard I came across the recent grave of a friend of mine, a sad reminder of his vivid personality.

Next I walked through the grounds of the  fishing lakes owned by Horns Dam. The dam was originally the water source for Goosnargh Cotton Mill which I had passed earlier in the day. I knew the next stretch through fields that have been divided up with electric fences for the nearby  horse stables would annoy me. And it did. I have complained to the authorities about the loss of public rights of way in this location but nothing seems to have been done.

I was home for an early tea.

Eggs galore.

The church at Goosnargh.

Garden ornaments.

 

1733

Afternoon tea?

Hill Chapel.

Public right of way.

AN ICY ELMRIDGE.

Friday 15th January.     6.75 miles.    Longridge.

 At the risk of becoming repetitive…

Again I set off from home on familiar paths to Gill Bridge where I skated up the icy road before I took the path along Elmridge. Elmridge is a small eminence in the Vale of Chipping between the Bleasdale Fells and Longridge Fell, its position giving  it good views of the area. These views are better on the road across the top rather than on my footpath along the southern side, but I’d not walked this way for several years. A friend has moved into a little house along here, so I was able to have a few words in passing. The family have adopted lots of stray kittens and have some fine fowl. The next farm along, again owned by a friend who has recently died is surrounded by woodlands that he planted over the years, a fitting memorial.

It wasn’t the clearest of days but Longridge Fell was always there.

In Hesketh Lane I passed the site of an old mill now strangely used as a depot for a local coach firm. The mill stream is clearly visible and a notice tells of recently installed fish ladders to allow fish and eels access higher up the stream. The Dog and Partridge is sadly closed, like several other old inns of the area. Notice the cheese press stone, a common sight in this area of Lancashire. I took the curiously named Judd Holmes Lane through frozen fields leading me back to the Knott Farm where I was the other day.. This time I made the detour to visit the little church at Lee House.  Be sure to have a look at – https://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Chipping/stwilliam/index.html for some interesting history.

I then joined the crowds walking along the pavements to Longridge. We should all be a lot fitter after this pandemic is over.

                                                                                     Bleasdale Fells.

*****

“THE FOLKS WHO LIVE ON THE HILL”

Saturday  9th January.    8 miles.     Longridge Fell.

My walk started at the top of Longridge today to avoid the village itself. The roads were icy and tricky with a light dusting of overnight snow. Judging by the footprints people already had been out and about in the morning sunshine. The little reservoir was frozen over, the golf course deserted. I caught up with a couple who had just joined the road, and we leapfrogged our ways up the fell chatting at a distance.

As expected the car park at Cardwell House was busy and lots of people joined us on the rough ground leading to the trig point, 350 m. The view over Chipping Vale to the Bowland Fells was rather hazy and out to Yorkshire was thick mist. It was relaxing  to be out on the fell in the sunshine, fresh air and open scenery, we felt it an ideal antidote to our Covid-19 problems. Magic.  The couple themselves live lower down on the fell and have similar views from their back garden. We discovered that we had similar interests and acquaintances.  I was reminded of an old song from the back of my mind and play it here if they look in.

 

 

Moving on I continued along the fell until a new little path that I’ve found into the conifers and eventually onto the south side of the fell. My path took me past a small reservoir, lodge, where last year some of my friends have been open water swimming, not today. Now back on the road it was a simple stroll to Longridge. A highland cow has been transported here along with the snow.

*****

I had feedback, see Conrad and Eunice’s comments, on that Peggy Lee version of ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’  It was written by  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein for the 1937 film High, Wide and Handsome.  Since then everyone seems to have recorded it from Nina Simone to Eric Clapton, it has become a jazz classic  I’ve looked around for alternative versions with less cream  although they all struggle to avoid clotting.     I think you will find these interesting and diverse.

First off that brilliant saxophonist Stan Getz gives a mellow performance more representative of the mood on Longridge Fell yesterday.

A bluesy version from Sarah Vaughan

A typical outing from Stephane Grappelli here accompanied by Oscar Peterson.

 

A touching version from a lady, unknown to me, with a beautiful voice, Maxine Sullivan and a great Dick Hyman electric organ backing which makes it my favourite.

A more modern saxophone low-key take from  Joshua Redman.

And finally a more upbeat version by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra with vocals from brother Carmen Lombardo.

*****

 

THE RIVER RIBBLE AT ALSTON.

Friday 8th January.     8.5 miles.      Alston.

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

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

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

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

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

*****

SOME RIBCHESTER LANES.

                                   Icy weather.

Wednesday 6th January.     6.75 miles.      Ribchester.

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

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

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

The Newdrop Inn, for sale.

Huntington Hall. Early C17th.

Dutton Hall.   Early C17th.

Early C20th.

 

More modest late C17th Lower Dutton Cottages.

An unknown old chapel.

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

‘Don’t drink and fly’

Another spectacular sunset ended the afternoon.

*****

IN SEARCH OF GRIMSARGH WETLANDS.

Sunday 3rd January. 2021.        8 miles.        Grimsargh.

Last year I had a chance meeting with an old acquaintance from many years ago. He has always been a  keen amateur naturalist. I have on a wall in my study a collection of Mountain Butterflies he gave me 40 years ago, when it was still acceptable to stick pins through insects. When I met him last he told me about work he had been doing on some redundant reservoirs in neighbouring Grimsargh. They were being converted into nature wetlands, and he encouraged me to visit. So that was my plan today. I was halfway out of Longridge when I realised, too late, I’d forgotten my pocket binoculars!

There used to be a railway from Longridge to Preston calling at Grimsargh. It served the stone quarries in Longridge from1840 but also provided a passenger service [closed 1930] and a goods service for the cotton mills until 1967. I should write a post one day on what remains of the line in the area.  From Stone Bridge I followed close to the line of the railway down into the Shay Lane Industrial Estate, a fine way to start a country walk. There is a surprising variety of businesses along here hidden away from the rest of the village. Cheeses, timbers, metal shelving, builders’ merchant, fruit and veg supplier, JCB, as well as many smaller units.

There’s more than one way to decorate a tree.

At the end is Shay Lane Farm, always neat and tidy. From there I took to the fields alongside Savick Brook, they were sufficiently frozen to avoid wet feet. The contrast from Industrial to rural was sudden.

I came into Grimsargh at Dixon’s Farm where a branch railway line heading to Whittingham Hospital could be clearly identified. In 1889, a private branch line was opened northwards from Grimsargh to Whittingham Asylum two miles  away. As well as supplies, hospital staff and visitors were carried free of charge in converted goods brake vans. The line continued in use until 1957 connecting with bus services after the main line was closed to passengers.

The Whittingham  Hospital branch line.

J D 1736

The map below shows the railway lines as well as the Reservoirs.

1930map.                                                                                                                                    National Library of Scotland.

 

While I was at Grimsargh Green I visited the large garden of a friend to wish her a distant Happy New Year, strange times. I then took a footpath following the line of the railway towards the reservoirs, but they were securely surrounded by metal fencing and I ended up going a long way round to gain the path through them.

Line to Longridge.

There was no public access to the wetlands themselves and of course today there was no wet – just ice. The smallest reservoir has been developed as a reed bed. I now realise there is a viewing point over the two lakes from a different access point, next time. Not a bird insight except for a curious robin.

I was soon out onto the main road and Elston Lane. My footpath onwards was blocked by new development with a closure notice lasting until Feb 2021, but it looks as though this situation will continue for much longer, I hope the locals insist on the footpath being reinstated once the building work is completed.

Looking at the map I found other paths to circumvent the problem and was soon walking back to Alston and fields over to Longridge.

Next year?

I need to return to spend more time at the wetlands if we are allowed out. I’m hoping Boris will swiftly follow the sensible proactive steps of the Scottish and Welsh assemblies to keep on top of this Covid-19 crisis, and we must all do our part and act responsibly.

*****

SOME WHITECHAPEL LANES.

Saturday 2nd January. 2021.               5 miles.                 Whitechapel.

The four miles drive, hopefully allowed in Tier 4, to Whitechapel was treacherous after a severe overnight frost. Mike had already arrived in the Village Hall car park in his 4X4. We had planned to walk on the lanes to avoid the boggy fields, but the lanes turned out to be of ice rink quality. The modest circuit south of Beacon Fell was completed without incidence. I didn’t take many photos as we chatted away.

Old School House. Whitechapel.

St James’ Church. 1738. The village was named after it.

The Cross Keys. Recently renovated but yet to open. In the past nicknamed ‘The Dorchester’

Two girls climbed out of this last night!

Lucky.

Snowy weather.

Crombleholme Fold.

Eccles Moss Farm.

*****

THE FIRST STEP.

千里之行,始於足下

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”    so the Chinese saying of LaoTzu goes, seems fitting for a New Year’s Day.

A chance reading of a fellow  blogger last night about her 1000-mile challenge from last year had me totting up my own rough mileage for the year – it was just over 700. Given that it was a strange year, staying local and not completing my usual half dozen long distance walks, that wasn’t too bad a total. So I decided and have now proclaimed to you my desire to cover the thousand this year. No fancy app counting steps around the house or going to the shops, just ‘proper’ walks that I would normally write up in my diary. I may get distracted into cycling or if the weather is good into bouldering and climbing which could limit my progress.

This afternoon, January 1st, I did five miles from home – a good start. We are in Covid-19 Tier 4 lockdown at present, so I won’t be travelling far by car for some time, but I can reach the countryside easily from my doorstep.

I’ll share some of my walks here until I become bored with the same old ones around Longridge, I’ll need to be creative to cover the mileage with interest rather than just for the exercise.

SOME CHIPPING LANES.

Wednesday 30th December.       6.5miles.       Chipping.

The days over Xmas have been all of a sameness, and now we are heading into a new year. Getting out in the good weather has helped the old year drift away. Mike is back from his family Christmas in Leeds, so we meet up in Chipping. I park next to the Village Memorial Hall which Mike designed way back in 1999, it is still looking good. We set off along past the Congregational Chapel and Club Row cottages.  If you have a spare hour or so for a walk around Chipping Village and need some history have a look at  http://www.chippinghistory.co.uk/page4.html

The lanes are virtually traffic free, and we have views across the misty valley to a wintry Pendle and Longridge Fell [header photo].  Passing a few scattered farms we start climbing towards the hills.

Chipping Village Hall.

All of a sudden a silent glider flashes above  us coming in low to land in the field alongside. This is Chipping Gliding Club. Their gliders are often seen above the Bleasdale ridges. Around the corner the lanes were clogged with the parked cars of the masses climbing Parlick perhaps for some sledging for the children.

We carried on uphill before plunging down an icy stretch to the buildings of  Wolfen Mill, a former water powered mill making spindles and bobbins for local mills. Up again, and we are on the remote road to Saddle Fell and beyond, classical Bowland scenery. Our roller coaster continued by Birchen Lee and Chipping Lawn sheep farm into the parkland of Leagram before the narrow streets of Chipping. What a splendid little walk ending with another of those late December skies.

*****

SOME GOOSNARGH LANES.

Tuesday  29th December.       4 miles.       Goosnargh.

On the news today people from London, Tier 4, are  being turned away from the Brecon Beacons which happens to be in Wales. It beggars belief and I would hope that they are fined, but it is unlikely. We are in the most serious phase of the Covid-19 crisis and people are not heeding the advice never mind the rules. January is going to be bleak.

*****

My drive today was a safe three miles for a walk on lanes out of Goosnargh for some more exercise  and vitamin D.

I could have sworn from past visits that the lane down past Middleton Hall was well surfaced but no I was mistaken, it was muddier than my trainers could cope with. I carried on regardless. The views to the Bowland Hills and Longridge Fell were from a different angle to recent ones.

Middleton Hall.

Beacon Fell and Bleasdale.

Longridge Fell.

Westfield Brook was running swiftly below the little footbridge but there were signs in the fields of recent flood levels. On the far side was a dedication bench with the quotation –  Time is precious. Waste it wisely.” Attributed to a K Bromberg.   I wish I’d thought of that, but I’ve not even read any of her sexy novels. The lane did improve as I approached Goosnargh Lodge. In a field alongside is a magnificent Cedar Of Lebanon, it deserves a better setting.

The roadside lodge to the lodge has been renovated.  I was then back onto roads all the way to Goosnargh coming  into the village alongside Bushell House. Bushell House has been running as a Charitable Trust to care for the elderly since 1743. My mother enjoyed her last few years there.

Next door was the parish church, C16th St. Mary’s. I popped my head inside and ended up in a long conversation with a long-lost friend who is a church warden. Outside is a sandstone sun dial dated 1746 and the medieval base of a cross, sadly overgrown.

Two old inns completed the scene, Bushells Arms is now a private house and The Grapes is to let.

The Bushells Arms.

The Grapes.                                                                                                                                

I’ll finish with the pubs and a shot of the late December sky.*****

A TOUCH OF WINTER.

Monday, December 28th.   7.75 miles.   Longridge.

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.

*****

DOWNHAM DIVERSIONS.

Tuesday 22nd December,      7 miles.      Downham.

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

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

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

Little Mearley Hall.

Hookcliffe.

Clay House Farm.

Approaching Downham. 

A slow wander around Downham…

Village Stocks.

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

 

Boundary stone.

Downham Hall home of the Asshetons.

Lower Hall and Church.

Heading back to Worston…

Reef knoll country.

‘Whistling down the wind’

The ‘summit’ with Pendle in the background.

Downham.

A hazy Ribble Valley.  

Worsaw Hill. 221 m

*****

*****

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

                                          A Lancashire Reindeer.

 

 

SOME LONGRIDGE LANES.

Thursday  17th December.   7.25miles.   Longridge.

You may have noticed I’m out most days, weather permitting, walking in the area. Opposite my house is a new housing development and the heavy diggers start at 7am every morning, my house shakes as they lumber around. So I’m awake, drinking coffee and keen to get away from the noise.

Today the sun was shining and the forecast good. Enough of the mud, I’m going to walk around the lanes. I stop to deliver an Xmas card and climbing magazines at a friend who is working from home, we chat on the doorstep as is the norm.

In the front garden of a house opposite is a strange ornament….

… and on the corner is an old cross base, Stump Cross. A plaque states it was placed there in 1931 after being dug up nearby, the cross is a modern addition. There are two other cross bases  nearby that are difficult to find in hedges. Eaves Green and Hill Chapel. https://megalithix.wordpress.com/category/crosses/

There were more horses on the lane than cars this morning.

Ye Horns Inn, C18th, is being renovated and due to reopen next year. It is to be hoped they will retain some original bar features which include a snug behind the bar servery. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1439858

Opposite the inn across the road is an old type gents’ urinal, I don’t expect it gets a lot of use these days.

That’s enough of the curiosities, the lane marches out towards the Bleasdale fells and gives good views of Beacon Fell, Parlick with Fairsnape in cloud and Longridge Fell. Quite a panorama enjoyed from this quiet road. The black metal gate in the last picture denotes the route of the Hodder Aqueduct coming from Slaidburn Reservoir taking water to the Blackpool and The Fylde. Earlier in the day I had passed  metal gates which accompany the Thirlmere Aqueduct to Manchester.

Around the next corner I was confronted by a muck spreader working from the road, I smelt it long before I saw it. I was a little apprehensive at getting alongside but fortunately the wind was in the right direction and the most of the slurry ended up in the field.

I arrived back on the main road at The Derby Arms, another pub now closed. From there it was a brisk walk into Longridge by which time a road in the development was taking shape. That field which less than a year ago had rows of hedges and trees, a natural habitat for hundreds of birds and small mammals; even where, in the past, I have watched deer strolling around.

*****

HOGHTON’S BOTTOM AND TOWER..

 

Hoghton Tower – from their website.

Tuesday 15th December.    5.5 miles.   Hoghton.

The de Hoghton family have owned the land around here for centuries. I’ve never visited Hoghton Tower even though it is open to the public in normal times but today I walk around the area. The present house was built on its hill in the 16th century and has been added to over the years. You can read about Sir Loin elsewhere. The situation is pleasantly wooded and drops to the valley of the River Darwen on the east side, Hoghton Bottoms.  Down that side is a largely hidden quarry which provides some classic climbs but unfortunately is in the pheasant breeding and shooting grounds of the Tower, the dark side of the Tower, so access is strictly limited to a short period of the year. It was always an exciting place to visit.

I started my walk alongside the Hoghton Wesleyan chapel which  is looking rather worse from wear. I went alongside period cottages which were linked to the estate quarry and down to the railway we used to cross when going climbing, often leaving a coin to pick up on the return, suitably squashed. Today I followed the track down past the pair of old buildings, Quarry Cottages, that are becoming more and more ruinous.

Down at the bottoms the old Higher Cotton Mill has been converted into expensive housing. Ahead is the imposing viaduct carrying that Blackburn to Preston railway. Once under it the roar of the River Darwen takes over – the river is flowing fast through the gorge and the path alongside follows the former leat to the mills. I reached the weir but the low sun precluded photos head on. From there on the Darwen takes a gentler course through its glaciated valley and the mud on the path increased as I progressed. A dodgy crossing of a wooden structure, couldn’t call it a bridge, concentrated the mind. Eventually I left the river and climbed out to join the busy main road in Feniscowles. I took a path through an industrial wasteland where I remember a former paper mill, now demolished. There were in fact two paper mills – the Sun and the Star. Once through the fenced off areas I suddenly arrived at the Leeds – Liverpool canal which gave pleasant walking for a mile or so. I chose a footpath to take me back towards Hoghton, this proved to be particularly muddy. The only highlight was a large bird of prey that took off and flew past me, it wasn’t a buzzard and looked more like a red kite, but I couldn’t be sure.

Ahead was a distant view of Hoghton Tower on its hill. On my way along the road I passed the 19th century Anglican Holy Trinity Church, I looked around the graveyard for de Hoghton family tombs but found none, apparently there are memorials within the church although the family were predominantly nonconformists.  Across the road was a fine looking house, the Old Schoolhouse,  and on the roadside a shelter dated  1877 with GdeH initials. Further on was a war memorial with a fine wayside cross of limestone. The land was given by Sir James de Hoghton, whose third son was killed in 1915 and is named on the memorial. I did wonder if there had been a pinfold by the road here but could find no reference to one.

I walked up the main drive of Hoghton Tower as far as possible on the public right of way before being diverted around the estate with the rest of the commoners back to my car.

From up here there was an extensive panorama of the Bowland Hills beyond Preston. A good day to be out.

*****

A SHORT BREAK IN THE WEATHER.

Saturday  12th December.    4miles.    Beacon Fell.

  I can just see Beacon Fell from my house so when Mike suggested a walk, if it stopped raining, I checked it out. Most of the morning it was in deep clag and at lunchtime it was still raining but about 1pm there was brightness coming in from the west.

We met up for our socially distanced walk at the Quarry car park which is usually quieter than the rest. The tracks were busy with families and dog walkers, this has become the norm during these lockdown days.  A quick obligatory visit to the trig point had us chatting to friends. There were a lot of fit looking people running around clutching maps, and we realised there was an orienteering competition in progress – South Ribble Orienteering Club one of the oldest in the country

Our way off the fell was through one of those woodland memorial grounds. We watched a roe deer at a distance, it had a very bright rump and seemed unable to escape the fencing. These are magic moments recalling J B Priestly’s classic 1949 book ‘Delight’ in which he wrote of the many joys to be found in even the simplest things. Worth a read if you can find it.

The path was only slippery at the bottom where we entered coppiced woodland. On the road was Fell Side Farm which I’d never really noticed with its date stone lintel,1707. Of course Mike had been inside in the past.

The normally quiet lane was busy with traffic which turned out to be from a ‘cut your own’ Xmas tree sale at Higher Lickhurst. Once past this we had the lane to ourselves around the base of the fell to pick up a farm track and a steep climb back towards the top. Down below a pheasant/partridge shoot was in progress and the shots seemed frighteningly close. No further comment.

It stayed dry for the two hours we were out and the minimal effort to get some exercise and chat paid off.  Here are a few random photos of the day.

A gloomy summit.

Last checkpoint.

Would this help?

Grade II Listed Fell Side.  [Rebuilt].

1709.

Will it fit?

Crow Trees Farm.  Strangely this made me think of  ‘A Message To You Rudy’…

 

  The sun was setting as I drove home for mince pies.

*****

CALDER VALE FROM BLEASDALE.

Thursday  10th December.      6.5 miles.          Calder Vale.

 

My last visit to Calder Vale was in February just before the lockdowns commenced. Almost a whole year gone when I have been restricted by one Covid measure or another, its grim up North. That day I walked through the yard of Cobble Hey who run a popular farm café,  they were due to open the next day for the season. Speaking to a girl there today they have  been barely able to function at all, the customers just disappeared.  She was hoping for better things next year.

The route I had planned for today had me approaching the Calder from above using paths untravelled. I parked at the summit of Stang Yule, the road linking my area to Dolphinholme across the edge of the Bleasdale Hills. All was grey all around me. The distant Fylde Coast a blur and the surrounding fell tops uninviting.

At the first farm I came to, Rough Moor, a couple were planting a new hawthorn hedge, well over 600 plants, I admired their enthusiasm and the renovated farm and barns will become desirable country living advertised in Lancashire Life. At least they had provided good stiles and waymarking around the property. As you walk down the hillside there is no clue that below is the once thriving mill village. I passed a few more smart houses before walking through the grounds of St. John’s Church and adjoining school. The church and school were built in this rather isolated position as they served both the Calder Vale and Oakenclough communities. A path leads down through the woods into Calder Vale, I wonder how many children still walk this way to school each day.

There is plenty to see in the village which always seems busy because of the working mill in the centre, There are remnants of the water power from the Calder, workers’ cottages, Methodist Chapel, manager’s house and the large Lappet Mill itself. The post office and village shop have closed and there is no sign of the Temperance Hotel. I left your Christmas presents under the tree.

I departed the village by a stile and age-old stone steps onto a lane linking to farms on the fell above. They all had a sad and unkempt look about them on this grey day.

Lots of wet fields led me to Cobble Hey which as I said was deserted and I certainly didn’t expect to meet this Juggernaut on a narrow farm lane.

The paths through the next few fields were untrodden even this year when the world and his dog have been out exercising. My legs became more and more splattered with mud and I don’t know what else. On reaching Delph Lane I could have easily walked up it to my car but something made me obstinately carry on with my planned route. The footpath was sensibly diverted around the next  farm, High Moor, but I was apprehensive as I approached Broadgate, a typical sprawling shambles of a farm – more industrial than agricultural. My GPS proved essential to navigate through. The continuing lane was a  mess from timber extraction.

I knew the next field to be muddier than most from a visit a few years back with my old mate Mel, sadly deceased this year. We had set off on a simple walk in trainers on the estate roads around Bleasdale when I suddenly spotted a footpath leaving the dry lanes across this very field. I cannot repeat his comments as we slowly sank into the almost knee-high mud but kept going nonetheless and laughed about later in the pub. That’s what friends are for. Today I was heading in the opposite direction towards the big house, Bleasdale Tower which looks austere at the best of times – I often imagine a face at that upper window, Rochester and Jane Eyre below. Today I just get the face of a friendly sheep in the paddock below.

I’ve touched on the interesting history of the Bleasdale Estate in previous posts.

Today as the afternoon wore on I had an easy walk back up the estate road to my car at the high spot. It was still grey all around but I’d perversely enjoyed the afternoon though I doubt few others would have.

*****

I’ve just come back from the supermarket where outside a class of junior children were singing carols. I was emotional today, and they brought tears to my eyes which is always difficult when wearing a mask.

*****

 

WINTER SUN.

Sunday.   6thDecmber.  7.5 miles.   Longridge.

 I’m usually still in my dressing gown at 10am, drinking my second or third coffee. That’s how life is at the moment what with lockdowns, third tiers, grieving days and short winter days. My cleaner is still not coming to my house, in fact nobody has really been in nine months, but I can’t be bothered with the ‘hoover’ today. It’s Sunday.

I should be writing Xmas cards and words of encouragement to my distant friends but I can’t find my address book. I’m sure I had it yesterday.

It’s now 12noon and I grab a bite to eat. There is little sun but no wind or rain. I can’t face muddy fields or driving anywhere, so I opt to do my short Longridge Fell Walk on roads for some exercise. We have walked this route many times, I apologise.

I don’t meet as many people out as expected, maybe they are Xmas shopping whilst the stores are open. A few cyclists pass by, struggling on the hills, as well as puffing joggers. I just march on at a steady pace stopping now and then to take a photo, and I don’t take many of those, being so familiar with the scenery.

The Newdrop Inn is soon reached, now sadly closed for ever and then up the long drag to the high point of the walk. I think about past sunny days bouldering with friends in a couple of quarries up here, what a wonderful way to while away a few hours in utmost concentration on the rock. On a gate post is a simple arrangement, a memorial to whom?

I walk down the road alongside the golf course in contrast to the other day when we just followed the fairways. A few lost golf balls were picked out of the verge as swag. Again in contrast to before the golf car park was full now playing is allowed. Some wayside gorse brings a little colour and there is a dusting of snow on Fairsnape if you look carefully.

Once home I had another go at getting rid of the leaves on the lawn. Now where is that address book?

BEST OF A BAD JOB – MOOR PARK.

Saturday 5th December.  1.5 miles.  Preston.

How can I put this, am I anxious or annoyed?

To start with I was anxious, Chris my son had arranged [24hours previously] to come up to Longridge at 12noon for a socially distanced walk up on the Fell. He never arrived. Phoning his house brought no reply, I know when he is on ‘nights’  he switches the phone to silent in the day. More phoning was to no avail and his mobile was switched off. At one o’clock I felt I had to investigate and drove down to Preston. His car was in the street and all his curtains drawn. No answer to my knocking on his door.

How quickly can someone die from Covid-19?  Images of police breaking down that door. I already had experienced a similar traumatic episode involving the emergency services at a friend’s house in Liverpool last year. Passers-by start looking at me suspiciously especially when I start throwing objects at his bedroom window. It took several objects clattering against the glass before a weary face appeared.

Anxiety over, I suppressed annoyance; he had slept in and was very apologetic. I thought of mentioning alarm clocks but didn’t. I marched off round the corner to get some spare keys cut whilst he surfaced and drank tea.

Sorry we are not cutting keys due to the pandemic

On my return to save the day, or was it just his face, he helpfully suggested a walk around the local park – ‘whilst I was here‘  So that is how I came to walk around Moor Park and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last time I walked through Moor Park was when I connected most of the open spaces In Preston into one continuous trail – A Preston Ten Parks Walk  [At the time I was hoping to spark the curiosity of local walkers to follow in my footsteps, although lots have viewed the post no one has admitted to completing what I thought was an excellent outing.]

Back to this afternoon we arrived into the park at its Southern gate and walked clockwise, along with many of Preston’s residents enjoying the open space and welcome sunshine. Moor Park is Preston’s largest and oldest park, originally common land it became, in 1833, the first municipal park in the emerging Northern Industrial towns. In the mid-1860s the park enclosed some 100 acres of the moorland, landscaped by Edward Milner.  It was part of a scheme to provide work for those unemployed because of the Lancashire cotton famine. A series of walks and ‘drives’ for horses and carriages were created, including an avenue of lime trees which was known for many years as ‘the Ladies Walk’. This formed the southern boundary of the park where we came in.

On the south road are large houses now used for rooms for solicitors and doctors. Also, here is the old Park School, Preston’s grammar school for girls, opened in 1906 closed in 1969. I think it is part of the campus for Preston College now.

Passing the children’s playground there was a little café open and doing a good trade in takeaway coffees.

At the edge of the park was a granite stone [?erratic] commemorating Tom Benson’s world record In 1997  of walking the perimeter of the park, covering a total of 314 miles!

The path we took ran through sunken gardens with an ornamental grotto and rocky tunnel.

The Jeremiah Horrocks Observatory was built in time for the 1927 total eclipse of the sun. [Horrocks was a 17th century astronomer from Hoole]. The university now own it but light pollution and vibration from the busy Blackpool Road prevent it being used for serious scientific research.

In the C18/19th the park was host to horse races  and there is a starting stone still present recalling those days.

The Serpentine lake is now looking rather unloved,  The supports and gates of a demolished  bridge were constructed from Longridge stone.

On this far side there used to be open air baths, they were filled in during the early seventies. There is no sign of them now.

During WW1 a hospital for the wounded was built.  After the hospital was closed in 1919 the buildings were used as an open-air school and then a prisoner of war camp in the second world war. When it closed some of the wooden buildings were moved to the docks for the Sea Cadets Headquarters. Only the interpretation board gives a clue to its position.

On the East side of the park  is the Preston North End football ground; they were a founder member of the English Football League in 1888. Today there was a league game being played, but due to Covid-19 rules no supporters are allowed so you wouldn’t know it.

That was an hour well spent with my lovely son.

*****

 Preston Council’s amateur map is reproduced below, by all means click on it to enlarge

 

THE FYLDE AROUND GREAT ECCLESTON.

Wednesday 2nd December.  6.5 miles.  Great Eccleston.

Great Eccleston is a village in the Fylde, that often gloomy and flat area of Lancashire not known for its walking. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has ancestry. It is known locally for its traditional shops, good pubs, a weekly market and its annual agricultural show which incorporates tractor pulling competitions, a niche motor sport. I parked up at noon on a sunny day, one needs the bright sun on these featureless landscapes. There was a bit of a market in the main street. I noticed one of the pubs has closed. There is an old pinfold down the street.

I left by Leckonby House, named after a wealthy local who bankrupted himself and ended up In Lancaster Prison. There was a C18th dovecote strangely isolated in the next field.

The St. Annes church at Copp was a prominent landmark up the road. It was established here in 1723 halfway between Gt. Eccleston and Elswick as a chapel of ease for St. Michaels. Nearby is a local primary school and opposite the old schoolhouse. It seems odd that the school is so isolated but I suppose it followed the church originally.

Elswick down the road is another small village on the road to Blackpool famous for its ice cream parlour. Also tucked next to the United Reformed church is an old chapel with a date stone of 1671 when this area was a centre for Nonconformity. The chapel is rather plain and has a house built onto it, it is now used as a hall for the adjacent church.

It was time to take to the boggy fields just as a hail storm blew through giving rainbows over the distant Bowland Fells.

Another stretch of lanes led towards drainage and flood defences. Here I got tangled up in barbed wire fences obstructing the right of way, later contacting the local authority they already knew of the problem. Surely the fencing contractors should be made aware of the need for stiles in the appropriate places. At last, I was on the embankment and following the Wyre downstream, a popular route for dog walkers. Walking around the loop was fast and easy which was needed as the sun was beginning to set. I had time to look at the Cartford toll bridge and the adjacent pub which has been modernised since I used to drink here 40 years ago. More rainbows appeared with the passing showers.

Being back here reminded me of a rather disastrous day walking the start of the Wyre Way.

The lights were on when I arrived back in Great Eccleston’s marketplace.

*****

ALMOST A ROUND OF GOLF.

                    Tuesday  1st. December.   6 miles.  Longridge Fell.

Golf courses are not open during the present lockdown and yet today I can meet up with Mike [one other person rule] and walk through the Longridge course, what would have been the difference if we had been hitting a golf ball as well. One of the illogical Covid-19 actions for which Boris has taken a roasting in parliament today, from all parties. I was amazed when  he walked out whilst the debate was in full flow, you would have thought that he could have learnt something from the intelligent minds speaking.  There was a consensus that parts of the North with lower incidences were put in a higher tier than London, an ingrained bias. If you are doing a short walk it is worth throwing in some political argument.

There is a string of C18th farms and barns along the scarp base on the northern side of Longridge Fell, all about the same altitude suggesting this is where springs were located, many of these farms have wells. Boggy footpaths connected these farms together for our outward stretch. The farmer at Sharples House boasted he had the largest cheese press stone in Lancashire but declined to show us it. At Higher Birks House we wondered about the function of a bell shaped structure in an outer wall. Mike had recollections that it may have been an ice house though despite the house being listed there is no mention of this, the mounting block on the roadside is however listed. The lady at Bradley’s Farm proudly showed us the newly weaned calves.

Old Rhodes farm and barn.

Old stone stile.

Higher Birks.

?ice house.

Mounting steps.

Bowland through the barn.

Bradley’s beef.

Dale House barn.

On we went to Dale House where a footpath goes up through the pheasant breeding woods to emerge onto Longridge Golf Course. It was completely empty and as I was accompanied by a paid up member I suggested we walked down its green fairways rather than the road. Mike pointed out some of the more serious hazards, ponds and ditches, which he will be trying to avoid when he recommences playing later this week. All looked well-kept with views out across Morecambe Bay, although on a wild, windy wet day it won’t be so pleasant.

No fun if your ball is in the ditch.

Just wait until tomorrow…

Some people are getting ready for Xmas.

We finished the morning’s walk uneventfully through the streets of Longridge. Not a bad day for the first of December.

                                                                       *****