Last Sunday promised to be a fine day so we decided to get outdoors. We decided against heading up to the Lakes and, instead, tackle Clougha Pike which is a hill on the edge of the Forest of Bowland Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty which overlooks Lancaster. Having climbed it’s neighbour, Ward Stone, in the past, I knew that we were likely to have some good views on a fine day and I’d recently discovered that there was a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy up on the moor, having read about in a post on Beating the Bounds. All in all it seemed a good bet for combining a walk with some art and less than an hour’s drive up the M6.
We parked up in the car park on Rigg Lane near Quernmore and set off on a route that would take round the back of Clougha Pike and past the Goldsworthy sculpture, then over Grit Fell across to the summit of our main objective. The hill and surrounding moors are part of the Abbeystead Estate owned by the Duke of Westminster and it’s been “cultivated” for grouse shooting. Access to the heather clad moorland was jealously guarded until the recent past, but with changes in legislation it’s open access land outside of the shooting season.
There is plenty of evidence of the grouse shooting with grouse butts and parking spaces dotted across the moors and there are bulldozed tracks to allow the shooters easy access. Our route followed one of these roads (only suitable for 4 x 4 s) for almost half the distance, and although they could be considered to spoil the look of the moor to some extent, they do make for easy walking over what would otherwise be very wet and boggy peat, and we had to endure that for much of the second half of the walk.
We set off and followed the track along to the quarry near to Cragg Wood.
It wasn’t long before we encountered the first grouse of the day!
The Red Grouse is only found in the British Isles, and, in England, mainly in the North West.
A flock of sheep were keeping an eye on us.
Reaching the quarry we joined one of the shooters’ tracks and started the climb up the moor.
Visibility was good and great views over to the Lake District mountains and the Yorkshire Dales soon opened up.
I shot panoramas of the Lakeland Fells
and the Three Peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent)
Looking to the west over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay to the Furness peninsula
We passed weathered formations of Millstone Grit
Eventually we arrived at the former quarry where Andy Goldsworthy had constructed three structures where we stopped to take a look and to have our dinner.
A local resident was keeping an eye on us!
Carrying on along the track we passed Ward’s Stone, the highest hill in Lancashire (since the boundary changes of 1974 robbed us of Coniston Old Man!) on our left
before turning off the track on to a path crossing the moorland towards Grit Fell
It was wet and muddy and swampy (so no chance of keeping our boots clean) and hard going in places.
Eventually the summit of Clougha Pike beckoned
We stopped for a while for a bite to eat and to take in the views. Then we set back down following the path along Clougha Scar
We missed the path which cuts back to the Rigg Lane car park and ended up part way up the shooters’ track we’d come up on.
We retraced our route back to the car park. The diversion resulting in a slightly longer walk than planned. A good day, nevertheless.