Round and round the Rabbit Rocks

Well, May has been a bit of a disaster for getting out and about. The weather ahs been particularly awful for the time of year with what seems almost like incessant rain, although there have been a few brighter patches. I’ve not been able to take advantage of those limited opportunities as I’ve been recovering from going under the knife at the end of April. But I’ve started to tentatively getting out for some exercise and last Sunday we were running out of milk so I decided to take the long route via the Plantations to the little Tesco on Whelley. I had in mind that if I felt up to it I’d extend the walk on a relatively flat route – and that’s what I ended up doing.

I followed the route of the old Whelley loop line over to the canal

and then headed north-east along the tow path past several of the locks of the Wigan Flight

up to Kirkless Hall and then crossed the bridge over to the other side of the “cut”.

Kirkless Hall

During the lockdown over the last year, as opportunities for getting out and about have been limited, I’ve been rediscovering and exploring areas closer to home that I’ve been neglecting. It’s quite a few years ago now but at one time I started making an effort to get some exercise by buying myself a hybrid bike and getting out for a ride in the evening after work several days of the week. One of my regular routes was along the canal footpath and I’d often cross over and ride around the footpaths that criss-crossed over what seemed like wasteland between the canal and the Belle Green Estate in Ince. This was the former site of the Kirkless Iron and Steel Works, which was owned by the Wigan Coal and Iron Company.

An aerial view of the Kirkless Iron Works. The site looks VERY different today – Source; Wigan World Website
Source: Wigan World Website
Blast Furnaces at the Kirkless Iron Works – Source: Wigan World Website
Source: Wigan World Website

I’ve been up here a few times this year, particularly during the winter months when it was icy and the canal and “flashes” were frozen.

A casual visitor wouldn’t realise that during the latter part of the 19th Century that with ten 65 ft high blast furnaces this was the location of one of the largest Iron works in the country and, perhaps the world. The site has been excavated and investigated by the Wigan Archaeological Society. The northern part of the site is now occupied by an industrial estate but the southern part is now a Nature Reserve. The industrial activity has left behind alkaline soils which, apparently, have encouraged the growth of plants that would be more commonly found in coastal areas like the Formby dune system.

Look closely and there are traces of the once massive iron works – particularly the slag heap at the south end of the site, known by locals as the “Rabbit Rocks”., littered with very distinctive cylindrical blocks of slag from the bottom of the furnaces.

I wandered along the various paths that criss-cross the relatively small site, passing a number of “flashes” (lakes left behind as a result of industrial activity)

At one point I sensed movement in the undergrowth. Glancing across I spotted a deer in amongst the trees. It stared at me for a while, long enough for me to snap a photo with my phone camera – you can just about make it out.

I carried on, looping around towards the Rabbit Rocks

and took the gently sloping path up to the top. It’s a short steep climb up there from the side closest to the canal, but I’m not ready to tackle that just yet!

Here’s another shot taken back in January on a cold day when the surface of the flashes were frozen over

There’s good views from the top over the site, across Wigan and over towards Rivington Pike and Winter Hill.

I doubled back and then walked across the bottom of the hill towards the largest of the flashes

Looking up to the Rabbit Rocks across the flash
The frozen flash snapped back in January

I mooched about for a while then walked over to the canal, following the east bank for a while before retracing my route back along the loop line path. I picked up the milk from the little Tescos and then made my way back hoe through the Bottling Wood and along the Dougie. Time for a brew!

A short walk along the Rawthey

It was such a lovely afternoon that after my post walk coffee and cake, I didn’t feel like heading straight back down the motorway. Instead, I decided I’d have a short walk down to the River Rawthy.

Passing the church and Public School and a row of colourful cottages, I made my way to the Millthrop bridge where I joined the riverside path walking in the direction of the New Bridge further upstream.

The river was shallow – it would be much deeper and faster flowing after heavy rain and in the winter.

I passed a weir, after which the river became deeper and smoother

Reaching the New Bridge, I crossed over to the north bank, passing the picnic area

Carrying on just beyond the weir

Where the right of way along the river ended, so I cut up along the path uphill through the field and skirted Winder House, then making my way back to the car.

I rather liked the decoration applied to this window in one of the cottages I passed

I made my way back to the car via the Folly one of the the old “yards” which emerges on the narrow main street opposite the market square, by the side of the rather old fashioned ironmongers shop.

Like in Kendal, these are old, narrow passageways branching off the main streets.

This will be my last walk for a little while as the next Wednesday I had a minor op scheduled and I’ll be out of action for several weeks ☹️ (recuperating at home as I write this). However, I have a short break booked in Borrowdale in August, so something to look forward to – although I’m not sure I’ll be up to tackling the bigger fells by then.

The Quaker Trail and Winder

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Just a few days after my walk to Dent I was back in sedbergh early on Saturday morning. The weather forecast was good and I had planned to take a walk following the Quaker Trail, a route I’d heard about on John Bainbridge’s blog (Walking the Old Ways). There isn’t any information about the route on the web, but after reading John’s blog post I got hold of the leaflet* showing and describing the route from the information office during a previous visit to Sedbergh last year.

Sedbergh along with other places in the North West of England was effectively the birthplace of the Quaker movement. In 1652 the movement’s founder, George Fox climbed Pendle Hill in Lancashire, where he said that had a vision of a “great people to be gathered” waiting for him. the next day he was up on Firbank Fell, near Sedbergh, preaching to a large crowd, many of them Westmorland Seekers, and this is said to have been the birth of the Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. I’d be visiting “Fox’s Pulpit”, the site of this event, during my walk.

Now I’m not religious but I have a lot of respect for the Quakers with their stance on Peace and equality, and this walk would give me a perspective on their early history and porvide a focus for a walk that would take me to parts of the countryside around Sedburgh that I wouldn’t otherwise visit. I also had in mind a variation to the route to take me up Winder, the hill overlooking Sedbergh, rather than to just skirt the bottom of the fell, depending on how I felt.

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An early start meant that I arrived in Sedbergh at 9 o’clock so any idea of grabbing a coffee before I set off was a no no as the shops and cafes don’t open until 10. So I set out, walking down the high street, past all the shops (nearly all closed!)

towards St Andrew’s church.

The route started here and took me round the church. I should have then cut across the public rights of way across the sedburgh School playing fields but they were barred due to Covid restrictions, which necessitated a diversion on the road.

passing the school neo-Gothic style chapel.

My old secondary school didn’t have anything like this nor the grand extensive sports fields and facilties. But then I’m only a pleb. Just looking at the facilites is enough to see why those who attend Public Schoold have a head start in life. the buildings all looked very nice, mind.

I was soon walking down a quiet country lane heading for the small hamlet of Birks

Looking back there was a grand view of the Howgill fells towering over Sedbergh.

After passing through Birks I took the path through pleasant fields

and under the disused railway line

and arrived at the first Quaker related site, the samll hamlet of Brigflatts with it’s Quaker burial ground

and Friends Meeting house

This simple whitwashed stone building was built in 1675. It’s normally open to visitors but was closed due to you know what. It would have been good to take a look inside as it retains many of the original oak furnishings. Not surprisingly, it’s a listed building.

I sat for a while in the peaceful garden

The Modernist poet, Basil Bunting wrote a long biographical poem entitled From Briggflatts (notice his spelling of the settlement has an extra g). He was actually from Northumbria but he

visited Brigflatts as a schoolboy when the family of one of his schoolfriends lived there, and it was at this time that he developed a strong attachment to his friend’s sister, Peggy Greenbank, to whom the poem is dedicated.

Wikipedia

There’s an extract and critique of the poem on the Guardian website.

He wrote another, much shorter poem about the Meeting House itself

At Briggflatts Meetinghouse

Boasts time mocks cumber Rome. Wren
set up his own monument.
Others watch fells dwindle, think
the sun’s fires sink.

Stones indeed sift to sand, oak
blends with saint’s bones.
Yet for a little longer here
stone and oak shelter

silence while we ask nothing
but silence. Look how clouds dance
under the wind’s wing, and leaves
delight in transience.

(source Durham University ⇨ Basil Bunting Poetry Centre )

So a literary, as well as a historical and religious significance for such a small group of buildings.

Moving on I had to walk down the pathless A683 for a hundred yards or so – but it was very quiet and only one vehicle and a couple of cyclists passed by. I then joined a track that led to Ingmire Hall, a 16th Century house, modified during the Victorian period, that was built around the remains of a pele tower

The route passed by the grounds of the grand house which wasn’t visible from the path.

It now took a long “dog leg” through the fields that eventually led to teh banks of the Lune and the old Lincoln’s Inn bridge

I’d driven over this narrow bridge on the way to Sedbergh from the M6

I crossed the bridge carefully and after a short stretch of road, I climbed over a stile and was back on a footpath through the fields just after Lincoln Inn farm. There was a most excellent view of the Howgills as I crossed the field

After crossing another minor road I crossed a field of sheep and then there was a steep climb through woodland

and then through another field and a farm track to reach another minor road.

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About half a mile up the road and I’d reached Fox’s Pulpit

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It was here that George Fox addressed a gathering of Westmorland Seekers. There used to be a chapel on the adjacent site but

Fox wouldn’t go into the chapel to preach but instead waited until the people emerged from the chapel at lunchtime and then climbed on to the nearby crag ….. and for three hours adressed the gathered crowd.

The Sedbergh Quaker Trail leaflet

He had his desired effect, convincing a significant number of his listeners and the even is seen as the founding of the Quaker movement. An annual event takes place close to the anniversary of the 1652 Meeting. Afterwards attendess go over to Brigflatts for refreshments.

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The text on the commemorative plaque reads

Let your lives speakHere or near this rock George Fox preached to about one thousand seekers for three hours on Sunday, June 13, 1652. Great power inspired his message and the meeting proved of first importance in gathering the Society of Friends known as Quakers. Many men and women convinced of the truth on this fell and in other parts of the northern counties went forth through the land and over the seas with the living word of the Lord enduring great hardships and winning multitudes to Christ.

The site is in the middle of nowhere, up on Firbank Fell, exposed to the elements – the old chapel was badly damaged by a storm in the 19th century and was demolished.

The “pulpit” stands at the foot of a group of knobbly hills known as the Knotts.

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I clambered up to the highest point and was treated to a magnificant panorama over the Howgill Fells.

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Looking in the other direction, I could just make out the distinctive profile of Ill Bell but long range visibility in that direction was too poor to get a good view over the Kentmere Fells. But, hety, the view over the Howgills more than made up for that.

While I was standing taking in the view I noticed that a number of locals were looking at me

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The Rough Fell sheep found up here are one of the three breeds of sheep native to Cumbria. They always seem much less timid than most breeds and often wander over to have a look at strangers.

I made my way down to the path skirting the bottom of the Knotts, passed through a couple of fields and then there was a short walk along the quiet road to Goodies farm

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where I turned down a track which took me downhill,

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over the course of the disused railway line

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and then down to the River Lune, crossing over the wooden footbridge

Looking down at the river

Leaving the river behind a path took me up to join the route of the Dales Way, which I now followed for a few miles in the direction of Sedburgh, initially passing through a farmyard

and then through fields of sheep with their lambs

Looking over to teh Knotts

Reaching the farm at Bramaskew, I turned off the Dales Way and took a path through more fields of sheep, crossing over another minor road and then over a stile on the path that took me up to and through Crosedale Wood

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and then on towards the fell gate

which took me onto the bottom of the fells.

Looking over to Arant Haw

The published route now followed the fell wall back towards Sedbergh, but this is where I decided that I would go up Winder, one of the smaller Howgill Fells, which overlooks Sedbergh.

I have to admit that I didn’t find the climb easy going. I am definitely not “fell fit”, but it wasn’t a long haul and I made it to the top

I stopped for a break and a bite to eat and took in the views.

Looking towards Arant Haw

and over to the Dales

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I was a little tempted by Arran haw, but decided I’d done enough, especuially as climbing Winder had felt like hard work – I really need to get more in shape – so started to make my way back off the fells to Sedbergh.

I arrived back in the small town at 3:30 so had time to go over to the Four Hares to buy myself a fortifying coffee and to treat myself to a rather tasty raspberry frangipane. Yummy.

It was just as well that the shops shut at 4 o’clock. Sedbergh is a “Book Town” and most shops have a stock of second hand books. I did find time to browse for a short time in the Information centre where they have a large selection, but I managed to avoid temptation. Sedbergh might be Book Town but I live in Book House and I have rather a large “to be read” pile at the moment, not counting all the unread e-books on my Kindle!

I sat on a bench in the small garden by the Information Centre enjoying my coffee and cake in the sunshine, but I hadn’t done quite yet. It was far too nice a day to drive home just yet, so I decided to dump my rucksac in the boot and take a stroll through the town and along the river side. But this post has gone on long enough! 😉

p.s. Nobody tried to convert me during this walk!

*A booklet on the Sedbergh Quaker Trail with a route description, including maps, can be purchased from the Information Centre for the modest price of £1:50

Bog trotting to Dent

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I managed to take a day off work mid week to make the most of some decent weather and get out for a walk. I didn’t fancy driving too far so decided on Sedbergh. After my walk up Seat Sandal I realised I wasn’t “fell fit” so opted for a less strenuous walk exploring the hills to the south of the small town rather than attempting the Howgills and also explore an area I’d never been to before – Dentdale. I’d spotted a route on the Sedbergh town website and based my plans on that, extending the walk to start from Sedbergh town centre and taking in Dent village before looping back. It crossed the low fell of Frostwick but wouldn’t involve too much strenuous climbing. I should, however have taken more notice of a comment in the walk description

“The path, can be very boggy in places”

and taken a closer look at the Harvey map which is very good at showing boggy areas.

It was a Wednesday and I hadn’t realised it was market day in Sedbergh, but I managed to find a space in the Market Square Car park – the small town wasn’t exactly heaving. I had a quick look over the small number of stalls, mainly selling local produce – meat, cheese and vegetables – and wish now that I’d picked up some of the tempting goodies on offer!

I booted up and then walked through the town and crossed the “New Bridge” over the River Rawthey. I passed a snack van parked in the lay by just after the bridge and, although it was only about 11 o’clock, the aroma of the bacon was just too tempting, so I had to stop and buy myself a bacon buttie. Very good it was too.

I carried on along the A684 for a short distance and then turned up the lane that led up to Frostrow, passing a number of houses and farms.

After the last farm, the tarmaced lane turned into a stoney track and then, after climbing a ladder stile I was on the path that would take me up over the moor.

As i started to climb there was a great view back to Sedbergh and the Howgills

This part of the route was part of the Dales High Way and is was easy to follow on the ground. But there were substantial stretches of boggy land to traverse, despite the weather being reasonably dry of late.

It was impossible to keep my boots dry as I tried to hop from one patch of drier land to another, but for much of the way it was a lost cause. However, I didn’t get sucked in to the peat (well, not too often or too deep, anyway) and although my boots got wet they’re waterproof so my feet stayed dry.

It was quiet and lonely up on the moor. There wasn’t another soul up there. Real “social isolation”.

As I was walking up the moor, cloud had been coming in and patches of the sky looked pretty dark for a while. But the cloud didn’t persist too long and largely cleared during the afternoon.

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Enjoying the walk and deep in thought as I walked across the moor, I missed my turning that would take me down in Dentdale, continuing to climb Aye Gill Pike. I’d gone probably a mile walking through the boggiest section of the moor before I realised my mistake and had to retrace my steps. There was a sign by the path announing the start of the area of Open access land, and this is where I should have turned right and gone through the gate to start descending off the moor. I didn’t miss it again, though, as I came back down from the bog.

I could see Dent village down in the valley as I descended down the path, which was still part of the Dales High Way.

I passed a farm

where the path turned into a lane which then took me down hill as far as the road from Sedbergh to Dent

After walking along a short stretch of road I reached the bridge which took the road over the River Dee (not, of course the one that runs through Chester). However, I continued straight on along a minor road that ran close to the right bank of the river

Looking over towards Aye Gill Pike .

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After about a mile I took a path that cut across a field and then crossed the bridge and walked down the road into Dent. I needed to be careful now and keep my eyes open for one of those Terrible Knitters.

Dent is a small village and is one of those places that are frozen in time, with lots of attractive old cottages and other buildings and with minimal more modern development.

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I passed the old chuch of St Andrews, built in the12th Century but obviously having undergone several modifications since then.

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I spotted a branch of Martins bank. I was definitely in a time warp then, as Martins was taken over by barclays in 1969!

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After wansering around the streets of the village (which didn’t take long) I set off on the return leg of my journey. I’d now be following the Dales way back to Sedbergh which initially took me along the south bank of the river

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After a couple of miles the route left the riverbank and joined a quiet road for about a mile.

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At brackensgill farm I turned off the road on to a path through the fields

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and on to a footbridge where I crossed the river.

The path then took me to the Sedbergh to Dent road which I crossed and then took the track that started to climb the fell. The Dales Way, which I was still following, then veered to the left gradually climbing and contouring along the side of the hill heading towards Sedbergh.

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After a while Sedbergh, backed by the Howgills came into view

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I came down off the fell into the small settlement of Millthrop, a very pleasant former mill village

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I walked down to the road and crossed over Millthrop Bridge. Built in the 17th Century it’s a listed building.

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A short distance after the bridge I took a path that cut across the fields up to towards Winder House, which is part of the Sedbergh Public School

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The path then took me past sport fields down to the centre of the village.

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It was almost 6 o’clock now, so, as everything in Sedbergh shuts no later than 4 o’clock, there was nowhere to stop and treat myself to a brew. So it was off with the boots and back in the car for the drive home.

Seat Sandal

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Just two days after my wander over Winter Hill and the moors, I was off out again, this time to the Lake District. The weather forecast looked good, at least for the morning, so I set out early and arrived in Grasmere for a 9 o’clock start. I arrived to be greeted with a bright blue sky in an almost deserted village – the next stage of the easing of lockdown when shops could open was only scheduled for the following Monday.

After booting up, I set off down the quiet country lanes heading towards my destination, the valley of Tongue Gill and the path up to Grisedale tarn and then up Seat Sandal, the distinctive medium sized fell that overlooks the village. I’d been up this way the January before last – before you know what landed on our shores (or, at least, before the Government woke up to it).

I passed Helm Crag (the “Lion and the Lamb”)

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with Steel Fell (the last fell I climbed before the first lockdown) ahead

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but the road veered right towards the A591. I crossed the road and set off down the lane that started to climb up the gill. On a glorious morning I couldn’t help but to keep stopping to take int the views

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looking back to Silver How
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Looking East – Helm Crag, Gibson Knot and Steel Fell

Part way up the valley it’s divided in two by a hill – the Tongue. I took the right hand fork, following the Coast to Coast walk route

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Looking back

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I carried on climbing gradually up the valley

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Some locals were keeping an eye on me

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It had been cold for a few days due to the weather coming in from the Arctic and the ground was partially frozen

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Keeping on

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I eventually reached Grisedale tarn.

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I’d found the relatively modest climb hard going – after been away from any serious walking I clearly wasn’t “fell fit” – or is it just age catching up with me? In reality, it was probably a combination of both factors. So i was glad of a rest while I refueled and took in a fix of hot coffee from my flask.

A few people passed by, most of them heading up to climb the steep path up Fairfield and I could see quite a few people up on the summit, probably tackling the horseshoe. But that wasn’t for me that day. Instead I was going to make my way up the shorter, but still steep, climb up Seat Sandal.

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Yes Anabel, I’ll be going up that scree!

So suitabably rested I started to make my way slowly up the hill. The scree made the start of the climb a little tricky and then there was a bit of a scramble up the rock – taking care as there was ice, some of it quite thick, in places.

There were great views behind me, so I was able to punctuate my climb with a few short breaks for photos

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Dollywagon Pike to the left, Saint Sunday Crag to the right an Ullswater just visible down Grisedale

It didn’t take too long to reach the summit. Unlike the more popular (and higher) Fairfield, it was very quiet and I saw only two other walkers (and another two on the way down later).. It was a good clear day so there were good views over the Lakeland Fells and I could even see over the Solway across to Scotland.

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Looking North West
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Looking down to Grasmere. I could see the Coniston Fells and Coniston Water in the distance

I used my camera to zoom in for some shots

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There’s Bowfell and the Scafells
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Great Gable in the middle of the shot
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Skiddaw with Scotland on the horizon

I chatted with one of my fellow walkers (she’d come over Fairfield first and hadn’t enjoyed the descent to Grisedale Tarn down the long, steep scree slope), fortified myself with a sandwich and coffee and soaked in the views, before starting my descent back down towards Grasmere.

Cloud had been coming over the course of my walk, but Seat Sandal was still in the bright sunshine. Suddenly, I noticed some white flakes falling to the ground. Yes it was snow and it seemed to be falling out of a bright blue sky.

the little white dots you might be able to make out in this picture if youare snowflakes not marks on your screen!

Looking over to the south I could see that the snow was coming from a dark cloud over towards Fairfield and was drifting over. I’ve heard of four seasons in a day but never experienced what seemed like four seasons simultaneously! But that’s the Lakes for you.

I continued my descent.

Looking backwards

Grasmere village had been sitting under a cloud for mst of my descent and was in shadow.

The path rejoined the track I’d tken up from Grasmere near to the A591. I walked down the lane, crossed over the main road and retraced my steps back to the village, passing new born Herdwick lambs with their mother in the fields.

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It was still quite quiet when I arrived in Grasmere as none of the shops were open. There was a queue though at Lucina’s cafe, which I joined to treat myself to a take out coffee and cake. I sat on a bench on the small green to consume my purchases just as the snow began to fall, fairly heavily at first. But the shower soon moved on and the snow didn’t stick.

I had a little wander round the village, doing a little window shopping in Sam Read’s bookshop,but with everything being shut and weather becoming less pleasant it was time to head back to the car and set off back for home. It had been good to get back up to the Lakes. It will be busier now as we start to move out of the current lockdown. I’ve plans for a short break up there in the summer and I hope to get back up for the occassional day walk over the next few months – before the next wave hits us.

Winter Hill, Belmont and Anglezarke

Since the easing of lock down I’ve managed to get in a few walks, although I’ve been slow writing them up as being glued to the computer for most of the week means I’ve been reluctant to spend more time on it in my free time – I’d rather be out walking or relaxing with a book or film. But I’m going to be less shackled to the keyboard over the next few weeks so time to catch up!

I had to visit a clinic on the west side of Bolton a couple of weeks ago. This gave me an excuse to take the rest of the day off and drive over to Rivington on what was promising to be a decent day for a walk. I’d worked out a route up over Winter Hill, down to belmont village and then back over the moors.

I parked up on the drive up to the Hall barn, donned my boots and gear and set off. It was still during the school holidays so it was busy with families out for the day, but I’d picked a route to avoid the crowds who were mainly heading up to the top of the Pike. I skirted the bottom of the hill and then took a less frequented path and then a track on the southern boundary of the gardens.

I avoided the summit of the pike and walked down the track towards Pike Cottage where I planned to take the path up to Two Lads and then on to Winter Hill.

Looking over to the top of the Pike
There were a few people coming up and down the old road but it was still fairly quiet.

Reaching Pike Cottage I discovered that since I was last up here a snack bar had opened up. A good excuse to take a break with a brew and have a bite to eat and take in the views over to the Pike and across the South Lancashire Plain.

Time to set off again. I went through the gate and on to the path across the moor towards Two Lads

Looking back to the Pike

and on to the mast on top of Winter Hill

There’s Two Lads, a subsidary summit of Winter Hill, ahead.

There’s various theories as to how this little lump gets its name, but there’s two “lads” there these days, in the form of a couple of substantial cairns.

After a short stop to take in the views I set off over the moor towards the summit of Winter Hill. Fortunately the peat was reasonably dry so not too much clag to have to navigate!

On towards the TV mast – the cage is for maintenance workers – I definitely wouldn’t fancy going up in that!

I made my way across the top and then took the path that would take me down the east side of the hill and on to Belmont, my first time down this way.

It had turned into a lovely afternoon and as I descended there were great views over Turton Moor. Long range views were excellent and I could make out Pendle Hill, the Yorkshire Three peaks and, on the horizon to the north west, the Lakeland Fells.

Looking down to Belmont.

It was an enjoyable descent – not too steep (which is hard on the old knees these days) and with excellent views.

Towards the bottom of the hill I turned off onto the path that would take me to the main road and then on to Belmont village. It’s a small settlement that grew up around the cotton industry with a mill, dye works and other factories. When I was researching my family history I discovered that some of my ancestors lived there for a while, although I don’t have any connections there these days.

The stone cottages, which would have been home for workers in the mills and other factories, look attractive all cleaned up and, no doubt, would cost a packet to buy. I wonder whether any of my ancestors lived in one of them?

I turned up by the Black Dog pub – still shut due to the lockdown

and had a mooch around the graveyard of the Victorian neo-Gothic St peter’s church wondering whether I might find a gavestone for one of my ancestors. A slim hope of course as they would have been too poor to have a memorial.

I carried on towards Ward’s reservoir which was drained a number of years ago for safety reasons

and then crossed over the road on to a path that runs across the moors, heading west towards Anglezarke. I could hear the cry of a curlew and saw a lapwing and a couple of oystercatchers. Unfortunatly they’d flown off before I could snap a photo with my camera which I had to dig out of my rucksack, my phone camera not having an adequate zoom.

Arriving at Horden Stoops, I took a short diversion up the path towards Spitler’s Edge to take in the views northwards over to Great Hill and across Anglezarke,

and, in the other direction, over to Winter Hill

I’d orinially planned to take the Old Belmont Road along the bottom of Winter Hill and back to Rivington, but it was such a lovely afternoon that I decided to carry on west across the moor

The peat was reasonably dry and the going was good until I approached the ruins of Higher Hempshaws farm – it’s nearly always a quagmire underfoot here and it was true to form as I gingerly hopped across of clag trying to avid my boots becoming submerged in the morass.

I decided to stop for while in theruins. It’s always a good place to stop and sit, take in the view and contemplate life.

Someone else had had the same idea and was just setting off again as approached. As you do we said hello and exchanged a few words that chaned into a chat swapping stories about the moors and their history. Suddenly he changed subject and produced a leaflet from his pack. Turned out he was a Jehovah’s Witness and had decided to take the opportunity to try to convert me. A lost cause I’m afraid as I gave up on religion when I was about 13.

After a short break, I set off again, crossing over the young River Yarrow and following a path I’ve never taken before heading west towards another ruin known as “Old Rachel’s”.

There’s several ruined farms up on Anglezarke and the other nearby moors. It must have been a hard life up here, especially during the winter, but the farms were home for their occupants. However, they were all demolished at the beginning of the 20th Century by Liverpool Corporation as themoors are in the catchment area for the reservoirs at Anglezarke and Rivington they constructed.

The ruins of “Old Rachel’s

Looking back towards Spitler’s and Redmond’s Edges from “Old Rachel’s”

Looking over to Winter Hill

I carried on across the occasionally boggy ground until I reached the minor road near Wilcock’s farm. This old building certainly isn’t a ruin

There’s stables nearby (I passed a field of horses before I hit the road) and there’s also a small tidy looking campsite by the farm house.

Just past the farm I turned down a path that runs above Dean Wood – a wooded gulley that’s a protected Nature Reserve – and which took me to the end of the Yarrow Reservoir, ner to the dam. I carried on following the path through the woods and back to Rivington Village

A short walk across the fields and I was back at the car.

A decent walk – more than 10 miles with all my little diversions.

Back on the Moors

The 29th March was the start of the easing off of the latest lockdown. Outdoor activity was, to a limited extent, now allowed. “Stay at home” no longer required although “travel should be minimised”.

During the lockdown I’ve been following the rules and restricted walking to routes from the front door, but I’ve been itching to get back out into wilder country and, with a mini-heatwave forecast, on Tuesday I was up early and driving the few miles over to Rivington for a long awaited wander over the West Pennine Moors. Of course, plenty of other people had the same idea, but I was hoping by choosing my route I’d be able to avoid he crowds. I wasn’t completely succesful, though.

I parked up near the Hall barn and then set off to climb up through the terraced gardens. I’d gone about half a mile when I realised I’d left a bottle of water in the car. I had a couple of litres in my bladder ( the one in my rucksack, that is) but on a hot day I didn’t want to run out, so back to the car to collect the bottle.

I reached the track which ascends the side of the hill and at the 7 arch bridge I climbed up the steps

reaching the Italian gardens where I could see my first objective – the Pigeon Tower

Climbing up I stopped to take in the view over the moors

before setting off down the old Belmont Road. A few others had the same idea but I only encountered about half a dozen people along this stretch of the walk. Most visitors to Rivi were heading in the other direction towards the tower on the summit of the hill.

Looking across to moors I could make out Spitler’s Edge and Great Hill.

I took a short diversion to climb up Noon Hill, which is a subsidary summit of Winter Hill. It’s topped by a Bronze Age burial mound, which is a Scheduled Monument. The site was excavated n 1958 and 1963/64 by Bolton and District Archaeology Society (now Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society), when cremated remains of an adult male, an adult female and a child were found along with pottery and flint tools.

On a fine day, it’s a good viewpoint too. There’s the masts on the top of Winter Hill

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the summit of Rivington Pike

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and good views over the moors to the north

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I cut down back to the old Belmont Road and after a short while reached the modern road.

I walked along a short stretch of tarmac, taking care to avoid being hit by the idiots on their motorbikes and a sporty BMW (this is a favourite route for motorists and bikers who think they’re motor racing stars) until I reached the start of the path which would take me over to Great Hill.

I passed a muddy puddle that’s the source of the River Yarrow

and set off up the flagged path.

This route is over peat morrland and is notoriously boggy. But the flagged path makes it passable and it’s a popular walk, and on a sunny day I passed quite a few people coming the other way – possibly including a certain fellow blogger.

There’s several points on the route where flags haven’t been laid , or have sunk into the bog.

It’s a very plaeant walk along Spitler and Redmond’s Edges, with good views across the wild moorland. There was a distant hum from the M61 over tot he west, but the main sound was the song of the numerous skylarks as they climbed up into the clear blue sky.

I reached the stile at the bottom of the summit of Great Hill

and was soon on top.There were a few people sheltering fromt the wind in the shelter, but I managed to bag a seat and grabbed a bite to eat while I took ing the views.

Refreshed, I set off down the hill. I soon reached the ruined farm at Drinkwaters.

This is a popular spot to stop, have a bite to eat and take in the view, and a couple of groups of walkers were doing just that. But the old farm was looking a little more dilapidated than normal (I’ve been coming up here since I was a young teenager). Turns out that United Utilities – the company that owns the moors up here since our water was privatised – were responsible. They’d had some work taking place to create a truning space for emergency vehicles in case of a fire up on the moor and the contractors, either delibrately or accidentaly, demolished a section of wall. This has provoked outrage amongst the walking fraternity. United Utilities explanation is that it asn’t part of the contractor’s remit but as they deemed the wall “unsafe” they decided to knock it down. Not sure I believe them to be honest. They claim that they will have the wall rebuilt – so look out for pink pigs flying over the moor. (News reports here and here)

I carried on down the track reaching the Rambler’s signpost

There were quite a few people coming up the path from Chorley.

I decided on a diversion and turned north along the track across Wheelton Moor

There’s several old shooting butts along this track, reminders of when this was the grouse shooting domain of wealthy landowners. At one time, not that long ago, I wouldn’t have been allowed up here

I turned off the track and took the path down towards Wheelton Plantation

past a ruined farm and a small quarry

and entered the woods.

I walked down through the woods until, at the bottom of the hill, I reached the Goyt, the water course that links the Roddlesworth and Anglezarke Reservoirs. The path was busy with walkers, cyclists and families enjoying the fine day, with one large group of older walkers inconsideratly walking slowly and blocking the path.

It didn’t take long to reach White Coppice where I stopped and rested on one of the benches overlooking the cricket pitch.

The village is something of a honey pot so it was busy with groups of picknickers.

After my short break I carried on, taking the path along the Goyt towards Anglezarke reservoir,

where I took the path along the east side of the man-made lake.

I turned off and climbed up the slope past High Bullough Reservoir. Although the smallest of the chain of reservoirs in the valley, it was the first to be constructed in 1850 to serve the nearby town of Chorley (where I grew up). Today it’s no longer used and there was little water to be seen between the dams

I carried on up the hill emerging opposite the old Manor House Farm – originally known as High Bullough – hence the name of the reservoir.

A short walk along the tarmaced road and I reached Jepson’s Gate leading me back on to the fringes of the moor.

I decided to visit the memorial to the Wellington Bomber that crashed near here during the war

where there’s a great view over to Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.

I had intended to take the path through the fields down to Parson’s Bullough and Allance Bridge but I could see the path was a bit of a quagmire in places, so decided instead to walk down into Lead MIne Clough. The river here is another honey pot and there were several family groups picnicking and getting their feet wet in the cool water on what had become a very hot afternoon.

Reaching Allance Bridge I looked over the ramparts at the the River Yarrow as it entered the reservoir – no longer a muddly puddle!

A short walk up the road and I crossed the stile and took the path through the fields to the east of the Yarrow Resevoir

I carried on along the path through the woods beside the small stream and then up through the fields

emerging at Rivington village, across from the old Unitarian Chapel

It wasn’t far back to the car now, through the meadow and passing the “host of daffodils” (even if I wasn’t on the banks of Ullswater).

A walk along the Lanes

One of my favourite walks from my front door that has helped to keep me sane over this last year of Hokey Covid takes me through the bottom of the Plantations and along a couple of lanes that run parrallel to each other running west to east to the north of the Haigh Woodland Park. There are several ways to vary the route, but whichever way I go takes me through a variety of terrain and landscape with, on a clear day, views of “blue remembered hills”.

Last Tuesday started off grey, cold and claggy, but by midday the clag had cleared and it had developed into a fine early Spring afternoon so I decided to take a break from sitting at the computer in my home office and get out for some fresh air.

At the bottom of our street I’m soon into the woodland on the path that runs along the Dougie

and which takes me into Haigh Woodland Park

I climbed onto the higher path that runs parrallel to the river – the lower path is always flooded and extremely muddy these days since they build the dam further down the river as a flood prevention measure

then I climbed up the steps, leaving the woods, up to the old Georgian Alms houses

Known as the Receptacle, they were built in 1772 and are now a listed building. They’ve been converted into threee very desirable residences. This photo in the Wigan Council archive shows the residents who lived in the receptacle in 1889.

I turned on to Hall Lane, passing Rose Cottage

and then turned onto Wingates Road. At the start of the lane, looking down to the left, I could see the remains of Haigh Foundry which used to produce steam engines and other iron castings. It closed in 1884 but there are a number of business located on part of the site, included a small iron foundry.

I carried down the quiet lane

reaching this gated community of posh modern houses. They’re built on the site of Brock Mill which I rember as the location of the printing works for the local paper. Previously it was the site of an forge which had been the subject of some industrial espionage by a Sweedish metalugist back in the mid 18th Century.

Across the road there’s a much more interesting building – the Brock Mill cottages, another listed building, constructed in 1821

Just past the cottages I turned right to head up Sennicar Lane

After passing a small group of houses the lane took me past farmland

I crossed the canal

and carried on uphill along the lane, passing the group of white cottages

At the top of the lane, I turned left and walked a short distance along School Lane.

The daffodils were out – a sure sign of the strat of Spring

I turned left and started to head down Pendlebury Lane. I stopped to look across the fields. On a clear day you can see the Lakeland fells on the horizon – Black Comb, the Coniston fells and the Langdales. Not today, alas. However, something moving on the ground caught my eye – it was a lapwing. I stopped to watch it and was then treated to the sight of a second bird swooping a dancing low in the sky above the field crying out, making it’s characteristic “pee wit” call. It was a joy to watchand lifted my spirits. A definite sign of Spring.

Yesterday I was back walking a variation of this route and again was treated to the sight of lapwings from the other side of the same field.

I carried on down the lane

passing the old converted barns and farmhouse. Expensive houses today but what a great place to live – in the countryside but only 3 miles or so from teh town centre.

Reaching the canal I took a snap back up to the old farmhouse

I crossed the canal just as a barge was emerging from under the bridge

I carried on down the Lane. On Saturday as I walked down here I could hear the distinctive bubbling cry of a curlew. Soon it came closer and two curlews flew over the lane just ahead of me. Another treat!

I walked past the small stables and collection of houses and carried on along the tree lined lane

After a while I was back at the Brock Mill Cottages

I turned right passing the posh house, crossing the Dougie and climbed up the partially cobbled old Brock Mill Lane.

I emerged on the main A49 road. I crossed over and then made my way through the pleasant residential areas of Whitley and Swinley back towards home.

A walk to Worthington Lakes

Last week I managed to take a day away from the computer when the weather forecast looked reasonable. Time to get out for a walk! I’m still restricting myself to local walks from the doorstep, mainly up through the Plantations or nearby lanes. I fancied a longer route so had a think about where I might go and decided to head up to Worthington Lakes, a chain of small reservoirs. It’s always good to include an amble beside a stretch of water during a walk.

It stayed dry throughout the walk, with some sunny spells, but it was largely a grey day and the light was very flat and not so good for photos. Still,it was good to get out for a long stretch of the old legs.

The first part of my route took me along the Dougie and then through the Lower Plantations

I took the steps up to the Alms Houses

across the field

down Hall Lane and on to Wingates Road

before walking up Sennicar Lane towards the canal – it was starting to cloud over now.

Reaching the canal, I decided to carry up the track

as far School Lane

and then walk back down Pendlebury Lane towards the canal. On a fine day, looking over the fields, you can see as far as the Lake District Fells, but not today.

Just before the canal I truned right and took the path towards Red Rock. I crossed the road and then took the track heading north beside the old house

It’s dated 1734, but has clearly been extended a few times.

Following the narrow Lane I reached an isolated terrace of old cottages

where I stopped for a brief chat with one of the residents – making sure we kept our distance, of course. The small houses were originally miners cottages and, although there’s no evidence of it now in what is a very pleasnt rural area, there were a number of mines around here in the past.

I took a narrow path beside the end cottage and, after a short distance, reached the canal where there was a quay where coal from the nearby pits was loaded onto barges

The path carried on along the canal, crossing a bridge over the disused Whelley Loop Line (now a cyle path) and on through pleasant woodland

I crossed over Arley Bridge

Which took me to Wigan Golf Club – a path crosses the course over to Arley Woods, passing the moated Gothic Revival style house which is now the Clubhouse

Despite a plaque above the elaborate doorway proclaiming a date of 1367, the present house is mainly a Victorian reconstruction. But there has been a house on the site since the 14th Century and the site, with it’s moat, has been designated as a Scheduled Monument.

There were ducks and Black Swans swimming on the water – I took a snap but it didn’t come out that good as I was zooming in with my phone camera

Black Swans are native to South West Australia not South West Lancashire, so they’re clearly not native. But they’ve had Black Swans here for as long as I can remember.

I crossed the course – no need to worry about getting hit with a flying golf ball as it’s closed due to the Lockdown – and entered Arley Wood.

The path down the hill to the Dougie was steep and slippery but I managed to keep my feet

I crossed over the bridge on to the other side of the Dougie, and then it was a short walk up a muddy path to the Reservoirs

The string of three small reservoirs are known as Worthington Lakes and the area is a Country Park. They were constructed between 1860 and 1867 to provide drinking water for Wigan. the water is taken from the River Douglas, although the river itself runs underneath the reservoirs through a tunnel.

I set off and circumnavigated the reservoirs along the lakeside path.

The sun even emerged for a while

The top end of the top lake has been designated as a Nature Reserve, so access is restricted.

have done a full circuit of the lakes I went back into Arley Wood

and then took the path up to the path heading north through fields

with a view over to Rivington Pike, Winter Hill and Anglezarke

After passing a renovated farmhouse and a group of expensive houses, I turned down a path that wound back down to the Dougie

I crossed over the bridge and then took a steep, muddy and slippery path up to the canal

I took the towpath back to Arley bridge and then decided to get off the muddy path and take a diversion down the tarmaced road through the Golf Course

passing Arley Hall again

I followed the road through the course and eventually emerged by the canal at Red Rock. I rejoined the towpath, walking past the boats and narrowboats moored up on the canal bank.

looking backwards along the towpath

At the end of the moorings I carried on along the towpath which was extremely muddy, so I left the canal bank at the next bridge and headed down Pendlebury Lane.

Joining Wingates Road, I passed Brockmill Cottages which were built in 1821 and are Listed Buildings

Just after the cottages I turned right and crossed over the Dougie (yet again!) and took the path up Brock Mill Lane. I reckon this old, partially cobbled path would have been used by workers walking to and from the forge at Brock Mill and Haigh Foundry that used to be located further down Wingates Road.

At the top of the Lane I reached the main road. I walked along past the Cherry Gardens

and then on to the Entrance to the old Haigh Hall estate (now Haigh Woodland Park)

down the drive

and then on along the path above the Dougie through the woods back towards home.

It had been a fair walk – 15 miles in total – through pleasant countryside and with some local industrial history.

Winter – In and around the Plantations

So, for the last few months it’s been difficult to get out and about so my walking has largely been restricted to the Plantations and the nearby country lanes. Last Monday we had our first snow fall of the winter and we’ve had a few more since, the last one yesterday. it’s not so cold, so there’s a partial thaw which then freezes overnight and so when the next lot of snow arrives it tends to fall onto ice, which together with ice formed due to compacted snow on the footpaths, can make it a little treacherous underfoot. Care is needed!

There was snowfall yesterday afternoon and this morning it was sunny, cold and frosty, so I wrapped up and set out for a wander.