Bog Hopping on the Bleasdale Fells

That’s an exageration, but only a slight one! Last Friday I went for a walk on the Bleasdale Fells and a good proportion of the walk was across the blanket bog. But then there’s no point on going up on the fells in Bowland if you want to avoid bogs – that’s just about impossible!

I’d parked up at Fell Foot and set off to climb Parlick. It’s not the first time I’d been up the steep climb to the top of this hill. At one time I used to go up there fairly regularly but I hadn’t been here for, perhaps, 20 years. The first time I remember well – it was 49 years and one (or possibly two) weeks before. I can be fairly exact with the date as it was during a camping trip with my bother and a friend and on the way up my tum didn’t feel right. By the evening I was in quite a bit of pain and my bother said he thought I had appendicitis – he knew the symptoms well enough having been in hospital almost exactly a year before. We rang home but my parents had gone out for the day. Luckily our friend’s dad came to the rescue and picked me up and took me home. My parents had a shock when they got home themselves to find me sitting there and rang the doctor – this was in the days when they used to make home visits. The Doctor looked me over and decided it was something I’d eaten. Luckily he had second thoughts and came back 2 days later. The next thing I was being rushed to hospital in an ambulance for an emergency operation!! A very lucky escape.

The road to Parlick!
Fell Foot Cottage – suprisingly it’s at the foot of the fell!

Anyway back to my latest jaunt. I took the direct way up which is steep to say the least. It was windy so although a reasonably fine day a windproof jackets was needed. It’s a popular walk (relatively for Bowland) and is a regular haunt of hang gliders, so the path is quite eroded. Some restoration work is being done. I don’t think many people who go to teh top carry on much further to be honest.

Heading up Parlick

It didn’t take too long to reach the summit, despite a number of stops to look back to take in the view (my excuse for regular stops to catch my breath)

Parlick summit
The view from the summit, looking across to Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell with the West pennine Moors in the far distance

I didn’t stop very long, carrying on along the ridge to Fair Snape Fell

Looking across to Hazelhurst fell behind the flank of Fair Snape Fell

After a while I reached “Paddy’s Pole” and the shelter. This isn’t the true summit of the hill but I think this is the objective for most people coming up here. There was no let up in the wind on the exposed ridge so I settled down in the shelter for a break and a sandwich.

Paddy’s Pole

The views from up here on a clear day are pretty spectacular

Looking across to Parlick
Morecambe Bay (with the Heysham Nuclear Power Plant) and the Lakeland Fells in the distance
More Lakeland Fells
In the east I could see the distinctive profile of Ingleborough

Next, I took a path heading south and then cut across, crossing the boggy ground until I reached Brown Berry Plain.

The tops of these fells are a big blanket bog, but over the years, due to human activity (and there’s evidence that people lived in Bowland as early as Neolithic times) it’s become degraded with areas of peat exposed to the elements leading to the loss of plant life and the formation of “peat hags”

a form of erosion that occurs at the sides of gullies that cut into the peat or, sometimes, in isolation.[69] Hags may result when flowing water cuts downwards into the peat and when fire or overgrazing exposes the peat surface. Once the peat is exposed in these ways, it is prone to further erosion by wind, water, and livestock. The result is overhanging vegetation and peat. Hags are too steep and unstable for vegetation to establish itself, so they continue to erode unless restorative action is taken.

Peat hags

Well, restorative action is now being taken up here and there was plenty of evidence of this as I bog hopped my way across towards Holme House Fell

Interventions to restore the blanket bog
Looking across the bog with the Yorkshire Three Peaks visible in the distance.

I’d seen a few people as I’d made my way up Parlick and on to Fair Snape Fell – not many mind, it’s usually pretty quiet up here – unless the hang glider enthusiasts are around. Since I’d left Paddy’s Pole I’d only come across one other person and we joked about getting sucked downinto themurky depths of the morass of peat! And this was summer – I definitely wouldn’t venture across here in the winter.

My fellow walker was faster than me (not unusual!) – there he is disappearing into the distance

After what seemed like an never ending period of bog hopping I reached the path that would take me down off the fells. The worst sections of bog had been paved over making the goindg much easier until I eventually hit less soggy ground

Looking across to Fair Snape Fell and Parlick as I descended
Looking towards Beacon Fell

Reaching the bottom of the hill I had a decision to make. There were too options to return to Fell Foot and my vehicle. I decided to take the longer option which would take me along some quiet tracks and minor roads through the Bleasdale Estate I’d never trod before.

Looking back across the fields towards the fells I’d been up an hour or so before.

As i walked down one of the lanes there were masses of butterflies feeding on thistles which flew out as I passed.

Eventually I reached the tiny settlement of Bleasdale

I decided to divert to take a look at the small Parish Church, the only one dedicated to the obscure Saint Eadmer.

St Eadmer’s Church
View of Parlick from the church graveyard

Less than a mile from here is Bleasdale Circle – the remains of a Bronze Age Settlement. It’s on priavate land and you’re supposed to get permission to visit. But I was starting to feel a little tierd and didn’t want to extend my walk by taking the short diversion as I know there’s not a lot to actually see there and I’d read that the site was in a bit of a mess.

So I carried on across the fields – the first couple on leaving thevillage rather overgrown and it was difficult to make out the path.

My route took me through the farm yards at Blindhurst farm,

The attractive farmhouse at Blindhurst

where a rather nice lady pointed me in the right direction for the path crossing the fields and the bottom of Parlick that took me back to Fell Foot

The last field to cross back to Fell Foot where I’d parked

This had been a grand walk on a fine, if blustery day (it wasn’t so windly down in the valley, mind). I left determined to get back soon to continue rediscovering Bowland, somewhere which was a regular stomping ground of mine years ago.

Driving back I stopped at Chipping as I was in need of a toilet stop. I had a mooch around – it didn’t take long as it’s only a small place, rather isolated from the rest of Lancashire, but it’s been here for a long time, being mentioned in the Domesday Book.

At one time there were several textile mills in the vicinity (some still survived and have beed “repurposed”) and the village was also known for furniture making, notably chairs.

Today, with it’s attractive stome buildings and old church is a conservation area

16 thoughts on “Bog Hopping on the Bleasdale Fells

    • I would definitely avoid the middle section of the walk across the bog in the winter! I guess the restoration work will mean it will never be completely dry underfoot. But it was good to get up on a remote part of the fell with very few people about. I don’t mind a bit of slutch!

  1. I’ve enjoyed the route up from Saddle Fell in the dry, and when frozen hard, but was just reading about the case of the runner Bill Smith who went into the bog up there.

    • It’s not so bad up and down Fair Snape fell. Quite a while since I’ve been up there. This time I extended the walk and that was the worst of the bog. Not one to try in Winter! (unless frozen!)

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