The day after my walk from Staveley to Bowness I was out again. This time I decided to avoid the trains and a long drive on the motorway and headed off to the Forest of Bowland. I travelled via Clitheroe and a fine drive over Waddington Fell on to Slaidburn where I parked up in the car park at the end of the village near the bridge over the Hodder. I’d planned a walk up on to the Salter Road. Also known as the Hornby Road, it’s an ancient route that links the Lune Valley with the old West Riding of Yorkshire, running between Slaidburn and Hornby. It’s an old packhorse trail and about 3 miles of it travel over part of a Roman Road that linked Ribchester and Carlisle. At one time is was probably a busy route but during my walk I didn’t see another walker – although a couple of small groups of motorcyclists riding trail bikes passed me coming from the opposite direction. Alfred Wainwright as one of the finest moorland walks in the country. I’d love to walk the full route but that would need some organising as it’s too far for a there and back walk. So my walk would be just a taster.
I had an idea on where I’d go but left my options open to see exactly which route I’d follow. It was a fine day, with a stiff breeze and an autumnal nip in the air.
Slaidburn is on the Lancashire Witches Walk and next to the car park is one of the ten tercet waymarkers, this one commemorating Alice Nutter. (A tercet is form of poem comprising a three-line stanza). My plan was to visit another waymarker up on the moors.
The Daylight Gate is the title of a novel by Jeanette Winterson published during the 300 anniversary year of the Pendle Witches trial. It’s very characteristic of Winterson’s “Magic Realism” style centering on “Alice Nutter”, although she’s not much like the real historical character.
I set off through the village
passing the war memorial
and then turning down the road by the village shop
As well as the humbler former workers’ cottages, there’s a number of larger houses in the village.
A short distance along the road I turned off onto a path along the river, initially through woodland.
I was following the route of the Lancashire Witches Walk.
I was soon out of the woods and walking through fields, the grass wet with dew, with a view of the fells ahead.
After crossing fields I joined the Salter road eventually reaching the gate beyond which the route isn’t passable by motorised vehicles (although, no doubt, you’ll get off roaders driving over here and disturbing the peace and quiet)
But there was nothing to stop a walker carrying on.
A short distance along from the gate I came to “intersection” where the path to Dunsop head leaves the Salter road. The memorial stone commemorates the crew of four aircraft who were killed when their planes crashed on the nearby moors during WWII
A close up of the memorial
I carried on along the road that started to snake across the quiet moor land
I spotted a shepherds hut and sheepfold down in the bottom of the valley
I eventually reached the second Lancashire Witches waymarker of the day, by the side of the road near to Croasdale quarry
This one commemorated Elizabeth Device, who was, apparently, known locally as Squinting Lizzie due to a facial deformity. She was the daughter of Old Demdike, the 80 odd year old matriarch of one of the two “clans” that formed the core of the women who were executed. Her Nine-year-old Jennet Device was one of the main witnesses for the prosecution in the trial at Lancaster. (Ironically, twenty years after the trial Jennet was accused of witchcraft herself. However, she escaped the fate of her mother, brother James and sister Alison)
Having reached the waymarker I now had to decide how to proceed. I could see in the distance a building just off the road which raised my curiosity. I was tempted to head up White Hill, the second highest point in Bowland, over to the east, but decided against the climb up over a pathless moor. There was a shooter’s track heading up teh fell to the west and I wondered whether I might find a way over the moor to Dunsop Head.
I decided to take this track. At first the going was good but as I climber higher up the moor it deteriorated and by the time I reached the shooting butts I was starting to wade through the wet peat. It was clear that a walk across the moor to Dunsop head would be a pathless rough traverse over the grass and heather and peat bogs. An option for a dry spell in the summer, but not one to savour that day.
So I retraced my steps back down towards the road, initially losing the path having to make my way through the grass and heather before regaining the track confirmed that I was wise not to try and tackle the long bog trot over to Dunsop Head. On the way down I spotted Pen-y-ghent peeking over the top of the hill to the east.
And this was the view south / south-east with Pendle Hill clearly visible.
Reaching the road I decided to carry on to take a look at the building I could see. It was a shooter’s hut. It was locked and boarded up to keep out riff raff like me, but I stopped for a while for a hot coffee and a bite to eat.
I then retraced my steps along the road – this section being part of the former Roman road.
I passed the waymarker again.
Carrying on heading south
Reaching an intersection I decided to take the path down Croasdale. and then head back across the fields to Slaidburn.
Looking back over the lonely moors after I’d passed through a gate
The going was good at first. I was on a track that leading to the ruin of the House of Croasdale, probably a former shepherd’s hut or shieling rather than a farm house.
The path then veered of f through long grass with stretches of bog down the side of the valley towards the river, yellow topped wooden posts showing the way – just!
It wasn’t easy going but I managed to keep my feet out of the worst of the gluey wet peat – there were wooden walkways laid over the worst of the bog.
I had to cross over the river, just about keeping my feet dry by balancing precariously on rocks in the rushing water. The path was difficult to follow in a few places but I eventally found the track that took me down towards Croasdale House
Looking back to the farm house after I’d passed by .
I carried on down the concrete track. I missed the turnoff onto a path across the field hat would have been a short cut and easier underfoot.
At he end of the track I turned right towards Shay House (another farm) and bjust before the farmhouse climber over a stile and began a walk over a series of fields that took me back towards Slaidburn.
From the lower lying land there were good views over to the high fells.
Reaching Slaidburn I called into the Bowland Chocolate Company shop and made a few purchases to earn a few brownie points when I got back home,
and then stopped at the cafe next to the car park where I stopped for a while to enjoy a brew and a slice of blueberry cake (needed to boost my blood sugar!).
The cafe is a favourite of motorcyclists and there were a few groups on nearby tables. Earwigging I could overhear anecdotes being swapped by a group of older “bikers” on the next table. One was relating a story of a friend who when stopped by a police officer was asked why he was riding at 92 mph – his answer, apparently was “because the bike won’t do 100 mph”.
Sitting outside the cafe I’d noticed a number of Morgan’s driving past – there must have been a rally on and they were taking a scenic drive through Bowland. Two cars had pulled into the car park so their occupants could refresh themselves in the cafe. I snapped them as they were driving out of the car park.
Due to difficulties generating the full route using the OS maps app I had to do it in two parts – out and back again (the app doesn’t like it if you retrace your steps). So, this is my outward route
and this is the route back