Slaidburn and the lonely valley

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.

At daylight’s gate, the things we fear
darken and form. That tree, that rock,
a slattern’s shape with the devil’s dog.

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)

Something upholds us in its palm-
landscape, history, place and time-
and, above, the same old witness moon

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

Brennand and Whitendale

Trying to make the best of a spell of good weather before another heat wave arrived, I had a couple of days out at the beginning of the week. On Monday I drove back over to the Forest of Bowland as I’d enjoyed my walk there a few days before. It’s a wild, remote area and this, combined with the lack of access to large areas of shooting estates until relatively recently, means that there aren’t a great deal of “ready made routes”. There are now large areas of Access Land that were forbidden territory in the past, which means that it’s possible to strike out on your own way, but in Bowland that would almost inevitably mean traversing over large stretches of soggy peat bog. But I remembered a blog post by Michael of the Rivendale Review just a week ago describing his walk over to the Brennand Valley and that sounded like exactly the sort of walk I fancied. I did extend it a little, though, circumnavigating the Middle Knoll to Whitendale.

I drove along the narrow, twisting roads to Dunsop Bridge and then along the Trough of Bowland as far as the car park on the side of the road by Langdon Brook at the point where it emerges from the fells before running alongside the Trough road. I expect it gets busy on a sunny weekend but there was plenty of room when I arrived. I’m avoiding going out at weekends during the summer, taking advantage of my increased leisure time and reasonably flexible working arrangements to get out and about when there’s a good chance of avoiding the crowds. It worked that day!

The start of the walk required walking along the Trough road for a kilometre or so, but traffic was light. I passed a farm

Sykes farm on the Trough of Bowland Road

and then an old lime kiln

before reaching an old barn where I turned off the road onto a track that would take me up on to the fells.

As I climbed I looked back to the Trough road

I carried on climbing steadily, making gradual progress. The path wasn’t too steep for most of the way and with the recent lack of rainfall the ground was mainly dry underfoot.

There was a final short, steep pull and then I’d reached the top of the fell. Now the peat was much wetter, but nothing too bad!

Large areas of the fell were covered in purple heather

I could have decided to head over to the summit of Whin fell but that would have required some bog hopping over the moor. However, a good walk doesn’t have to involve summit bagging. I was enjoying the solitude and the wild, scenery, which was dramatic enough.

While writing this post a comment popped up Michael of the Rivendale Review mentioning an incident back in 2011 where a well known fell runner was found dead in the peat on Saddle Fell, not far from where I’d been walking on Friday. He’d been up there for about 3 week before he was found. It is so quiet up there. Other than the cyclists, I only saw one other person when I was going across the bogs. And even if a few other people did pass by him he could have been hidden amongst all the peat hags. A real illustration why it’s important to take care up on these lonely fells and make sure someone knows you’re up there. The difficulty is that I often decide my route “on the hoof”, changing my plans as I walk and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

On a brighter note, from the top of the fell I could see right down into the lonely Brennand Valley. It was a breathtakingly beautiful view – if you like wild and lonely moorland scenery, and I certainly do!

I was on the edge of a large stretch of wild moorland where there are very few signs of human habituation other than scattered farms, like the one in the middle of the above picture. Brennand farm is at the end of a road a couple of miles out of Dunsop Bridge. There’s another farm, Lower Brennand, a short distance away but there’s no other houses until you approach the village.

As I looked down into the valley contemplating this, I was reminded of a novel I’d read by Andrew Michael Hurley. Devil’s Day is a modern “Gothic” novel set on a remote farm up in Bowland. The atmosphere of the book is bleak and claustrophobic, and I can imagine how it would feel living up here on a farm in the winter when it’s pouring down with rain, with a gale blowing, when the days are short and there are sheep to rescue from the fell. But on a sunny day, with enough cloud to provide some shade, it was a pretty glorious place to be.

I started to descend the narrow path of Ouster Rake down into the valley.

Looking back up Ouster Rake

Reaching the farm, I had options. I could head straight down to Dunsop Bridge, a couple of miles away, but it was too good a day to cut short the walk so soon. I could have followed the Shooter’s track along the valley and up the fell, getting right into the deep moor. I was tempted but decided to save that for another day. Instead I stuck to my original plan for the day which was to carry on round the Middle Knoll over to Whitendale, another lonely valley with a farm.

Looking up to the head of the valley – I decided to leave that until another day.
The path I took which skirts the lower slopes of Middle Knoll

Starting to stride along my chosen route I saw a couple on bikes descending from the higher level track coming from the bottom of the valley. We stopped to chat. I could see that they were riding e-bikes so I asked what they thought of them 9I’m still pondering whether to buy one!). They told me that they’d hired them from a shop in Dunsop Bridge (when I checked my emails later in the day I’d received one from another “bloggy friend”, Bowland Climber, who had mentioned this in a comment, posting around the time I was having this chat!) I decided I’d hire one to try in the near future.

I carried on along the track which eventually changed to a fairly indistinct path back in the bogs.

Passing a small tarn

After a while the valley of Whitendale came into view.

These are really the lonely moors of Bowland, miles from “civilisation” and difficult to access. There are few paths to follow. I have some ideas for routes – but It would be a long day walking up there. But that wasn’t where I was going that day. Instead I carried on the path round Middle Knoll and then made my way down into Whitendale and another isolated farm. It was a steep descent, the toughest part of that day’s walk, but nothing too difficult even though my blood sugar had dropped.

I’d been past this farm before – quite a few years ago – when I’d been over Dunsop Fell – another good walk I’ll have to repeat soon.

Passing the farm

From then on I was on tarmac on the road down the valley to Dunsop Bridge.

Looking back to Whitendale farm

and the road ahead

I stopped for a short while at the junction with the road coming in from Brennand – there was a handy memorial bench there.

Looking down the Brennand Valley

I carried on down the road towards Dunsop Bridge, looking back from time to time

Looking back to Middle Knoll

I’d walked up and down this valley several times in the past and my recollection was that I wasn’t so fond of it. I remember the hills were covered in dense pine forest and the valley had something of an industrial feel due to the forestry and structures associated with United Utilities who extract water from the river. However, this time I didn’t feel that way. There had been some clearance of the pines, but perhaps it was the blue skies that were putting me in a mood more receptive to the delights of the fells on either side of the river.

Towards the end of the valley I passed a row of houses

and then it didn’t take long to reach the small village of Dunsop Bridge and, most importantly, Puddleducks Tearooms!

Time for an obligatory brew and cake!

Refreshed it was time to walk the final leg of my journey, along the Trough back to the car.

Dunsop Bridge bridge!
The Working Men’s Institute
The war memorial
An old road sign
and a newer one!
looking over to Mellor Knoll
the village church

The first half of this final leg of my walk was on the tarmac of the Trough of Bowland road, which is hard going after a fairly long walk

but the views were pretty good!

Looking back over the river to Mellor Knoll

At the junction with the road up to Harenden, I was able to leave the road and take a path along the south of the river which led back to Langden brook and the car park

The Bowland Mountain Rescue HQ up of the hillside
Arriving at Langden Brook

Well, that was another cracking walk up in Bowland, and I’d managed to survive the bogs. I’ll be back up this way soon!

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.

Wikipedia
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

Along the Hodder – Part 2

So, it was time to set out again following the Hodder in the opposite direction to my morning jaunt – upstream this time.I was following a route I’d seen on Bowland Climber’s blog. It wasn’t as long and looked a little easier than the downstream route.

So I set off in the same direction as during the morning, but turned off the track over a stile and into the fields just before the bridge over the Hodder at Thorneyholme Hall.

It would be wet and boggy underfoot during the winter and when the weather had been wet, but we hadn’t seen much rain for a few weeks.

The path ran parrallel to the river through the fields

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At Boarsden, the path passed a farm house with a very tidy garden of flowers

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and emerged on the quite Dunsop Bridge to Newton road. The route included a walk on the tarmac for about half a mile before I was back in the fields.

I spotted some cattle at the bottom of the next field – it didn’t look like there were any bulls this time! The path led down to teh river and a rather rickety looking suspension footbridge (I’d passed another one earlier in the walk

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This was the view looking down at the river from the middle of the bridge

and looking back at the bridge from the other side

I crossed another field until I reached a minor road heading back in the direction of Dunsop Bridge. I carried on until I reached the curiously named Giddy Bridge where I stopped for a break to top up my blood sugar.

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Carrying the track passed through fields of sheep heading towards Knowlmere Manor

approaching the river bank at one point

The Hall came into view

Doing a little research after the walk I discovered that it’s a private house but I couldn’t find anything else about the occupants. It has a plethora (a good word that!) of chimneys. The original owners must have needed to keep the house warm given it’s remote location close to the moors which must be pretty wild and windy at times. I wouldn’t like to have to shell out for their heating bills.

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The track carried on past the house through more fields

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I should have branched off as I got near to Dunsop Bridge, but missed the junction and found myself passing Lower Thorneyholme Farm. Realising my mistake and trying to minimise the diversion I cheekily followed the farm track back towards the river. I then took the riverside path a short distance towards Thorneyhome hall and crossed the bridge over the Hodder and walked the short distance back to the car park.

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The cafe had closed, so I had to make do with a drink of water from my reserve bottle in the car boot! Time to change out of my boots and drive home. It had been a good day in beautiful countryside. I don’t think it will be too long before I’m back in Bowland.

Along the Hodder – Part 1

On Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, only a few days after my little break in the Lakes, I was up early and drove over to Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland. The fine weather was continuing and I fancied getting out for another walk. At one time I used to be up on the moors in Bowland fairly regularly, but I hadn’t been up that way for a few years. Reading posts by Bowland Climber overthe past few years had given me an appetite to rediscover the delights of this Area of Outsatnting Natural Beauty again.

I’m still not fell fit but had sussed out a low level walk following the Hodder starting from the small honeypot village. I parked up in the car park before 9. There were already a number of vehicles parked up and there seemed to be a rush of cars arriving. It was a walking group gathering for a wander on the fells.

I booted up but before setting off decided to get myself a shot of caffeine as the Puddleducks cafe was already open. The smell of bacon frying was tempting, but I resisted the siren call.

Dunsop Bridge is a tiny place but has the distinction of being declared as the geographical centre of Great Britain and its associated islands by the Ordnance Survey. BT, celebrated this by the installation of a telephone box, its 100,000th payphone, in 1992. In fact the “true” centre is 7 km north west of the Village, by Whitendale Hanging Stones on Brennard Farm

The claim can be disputed – it depends on how you define the British Isles and whether you only include the main island. In that case the OS gives the location as 4 km north west of Calderstones Hospital near Clitheroe.

Refreshed and energised I checked the map and set off. At first a short walk beside the River Dunsop to where it joined the Hodder at Thorneyholme Hall

then the route followed the left bank of the river to Whitewell.

It’s an attractive river with clear water and a backdrop of some of the high fells of Bowland

The first obstacle of the day was a group of calves clustered around the stile I had to cross. Luckily they shifted as they saw me approach.

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Looking back at the little herd of calves after I’d crossed the stile.

After Burholme Farm the route became less interesting following a flat farm track and then a stretch allong the tarmac to Whitewell after Burholme Bridge.

It didn’t take long to reach the small hamlet of Whitewell where there’s a small cluster of houses, a church and the Inn at Whitewell

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The building used to be a manor house but was converted into a hostelry sometime during the 1700’s according to the Inn’s website. Today it’s not exactly a humble tavern, but an upmarket restaurant and hotel. It was the first place visited by Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon for one of their gourmet meals during the first series of the Trip. No time to stop and indulge for me, however!

I did stop to have a quick look at the little church, though. According to their website there’s been a church here since sometime between 1478-1521. The current building, however, was re-constructed in 1817. It’s quite a simple structure with some, no doubt Victorian, Gothic Revival touches.

Tomb with a view!

I had to cross the river here but there was no bridge marked on the map. There was a simple explanation for this – there isn’t one! Instead I followed a sign descending down through a field to the riverbank where I reached a set of stepping stones.

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Knowing how unstable I am these days, I’d brought my walking poles with me. However, the river was quite shallow after a dry period and running quite smoothly. I still used my pole to make sure I didn’t end up getting wet.

The route now climbed up through the fields, passing the farm at New Laund

and then crossing over a minor road. Then crossing another field on a path up towards Tunstall Ing I heard the distinctive call of curlews, and there they were circling above me. I’d never seen so many in one place at one time. I reckon they must have been nesting in the fields and had been disturbed by my presence.

A tarmac track took me through the fields where I saw and heard yet more curlews. There were good views towards Totridge, on of the high fells.

After about a mile I stopped for a bite to eat, taking in the views on a beautiful day

and then followed the path through a plantation of pine trees

From gaps in the trees I could see down to the Hodder and across to the fells

I emerged at Whitmore into more open countryside.

A view across the valley

Looking ahead I could see Mellor Knoll. Unfortunately “out of bounds” on private land not included in the Open Access area. The path on the map skirted across a field below the hill which would block the views across the valley.

Any thoughts I had of tresspassing up to the top of the small hill were soon discarded. I had to climb a stile to get into the field and approaching it I spotted a herd of cattle including some calves.

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One of the group looked a little different than the others – well, actually considerably different. Bigger, more muscular and with a ring through its nose.

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What was a bul doing in a field with a clear right of way? There wasn’t even a sign warning of its presence. The Health and Safety Executive have clear guidance for farmers about bulls

However, Apparently

The general rule set out in statute is that it is an offence to allow a bull in a field crossed by a public right of way, but there are exceptions to this.

No offence will be committed if either: the bull in question is under 10 months old or it does not belong to a recognised dairy breed and is at large in any field or enclosure in which cows or heifers are also at large.

Farmer’s World Website

So as it was with cows and calves the farmer may not have actually been commiting an offence, but there was no way I was going to take a risk so took a diversion following the other side of the wall around the field rejoining the path further up.

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Crossing the moorland I was treated to the sight of a lapwing circling above me, calling out in its distinctive peewit cry.

The path descended down through a field towards Hareden farm and the Trough of Bowland

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After a short walk allong the farm track I crossed over Langden Brook

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and reached the road

I had a short stretch allong the road, which ran parrallel to the river

The road went back to Dunsop Bridge, but just after a sheep fold

I clambered over a stile and followed a path through a field of sheep (no bulls thank goodness!)

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towards Closes Barn where there was a small group of dwellings that looked as if they had been converted into holiday lets.

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I followed the track that took me back to the village.

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On such a fine day the village was heaving with visitors gathered around and in the river. There were cars parked all along the road through the village

However, after quite a long walk I was in need of refrehment so decided on another visit to Puddleducks

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I was lucky. there was one person in front of me so I soon got served and found myself a table to enjoy my tea and a (naughty) cake.

Straight after a lengthy queue had accumulated

It was only about 1:30 and I wanted to make the most of a good day. So after my brief rest, rather than head back to the car I set off again – I had another walk in mind.

Clougha Pike

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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.

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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.

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It wasn’t long before we encountered the first grouse of the day!

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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.

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Reaching the quarry we joined one of the shooters’ tracks and started the climb up the moor.

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Visibility was good and great views over to the Lake District mountains and the Yorkshire Dales soon opened up.

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I shot panoramas of the Lakeland Fells

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and the Three Peaks (Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent)

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Looking to the west over Lancaster and Morecambe Bay to the Furness peninsula

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We passed weathered formations of Millstone Grit

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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.

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A local resident was keeping an eye on us!

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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

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before turning off the track on to a path crossing the moorland towards Grit Fell

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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

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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

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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.

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We retraced our route back to the car park. The diversion resulting in a slightly longer walk than planned. A good day, nevertheless.