Down by the Dove

The second day of my little break in the White Peak I’d decided on another walk from one of the little Vertebrate Publishing guide books of walks in the Peak District that would take me along the banks of the Dove, as far as Milldale then back via Alstonefield before returning to Hartington on a higher stretch of the Dove. The weather forecast was a little iffy with rain promised for Hartington late afternoon

The sky was looking moody as I set off along a track directly opposite the hostel, then through a field,

across a narrow road and down another old track (what would have been called a “lonning” in Cumbria)

This is dairy country

then around some fields and down a path leading down hill to the river

and emerging at Wolfscote Dale, a very attractive deep sided valley in the care of the National Trust, runs northwest to southeast and is deep and steep-sided with a series of weirs along the crystal clear waters of the River Dove. A riverside path runs along the Derbyshire bank of the Dove.

The scenery, even on a dull day, was impressive, as I passed a succession of massive limestone outcrops,

and through pleasant meadows and woodland.

At the end of Wolfscote dale the river is diverted west by a limstone mass known as Shining Tor. Search for this on the net and you’ll find plenty of references to a more well known hill of the same name on the moors not far from the Cat and Fiddle on the pass between Macclesfield and Buxton. there was a road crossing a bridge over the river and then running parrallel to it forking with one branch going up hill to Alstonefield.

Although my next waypoint was the attractive riverside village of Milldale, and the easy option was to follow the road, I took the harder, but more attractive option. Turning left I took a path running parallel to the road wending my way in the opposite direction to the village. After a short while Iturned right to take the path up hill to the top of Shining Tor. It was at this point that the heavens opened.

The wet weather was coming up from the south and as that was the direction I’d been walking I’d hit it as it was making it’s way towards Hartington. I expected that I was probably going to get rained on for the rest of the walk.

I donned my cagoule (expecting rain I already had the rain cover over my rucksack) as the rain came down in cats and dogs.

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Reaching the top the path turned west along the top of the ridge. Despite the rain, grey skies and cloud the views down the valley were still pretty good.

Approaching Milldale the path descended steeply. I needed to take care as the limestone rock underfoot can be treachourously slippy in the rain. Time to take my poles out to give me some stability.

A narrow bridge crossed the Dove and led into the small village. An old packhorse bridge known as the Viator’s Bridge, it’s apparently mentioned in The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton.

Milldale is the start of Dovedale, allegedly the most attractive stretch of the river which attracts a million visitors every year and there were quite a few people milling around. I was getting very wet at this point and needed to consult my guidebook. There was a stone shelter but it was already occupied by a few people, a couple of whom looked rather like motor tourists. Being careful of social distancing I tried not to get close and ended up trying to keep my guidebook dry as I consulted it standing half in and half out of the shelter. None of the occupants made any effort to make a little room for me. Rather selfish I thought.

As you’d expect from the name, there used to be a mill here. It wasn’t used to grind corn, though, but minerals mined in the area. Looking at the quaint scenery these days it’s difficult to imaging that this was once an industrial area, as indeed was the case throughout the Peak District. Indeed, even today industry isn’t far away, with a number of large, modern limestone and millstone grit quaries that scar the lanscape in some other parts of the Peak District

Carrying on I passed the attractive stone houses

I knew I had a stretch of road to walk along. It was very quiet, though and passed through a very attractive valley

I’d walked over a mile before I realised I’d gone wrong. There were two roads out of Milldale and as I hadn’t consulted my guidebook properly as I’d tried to keep it dry down in Milldale, I’d taken the wrong one. Consulting the OS map app on my phone (my paper map would have got soaked) I could see the road I’d taken would involve an extra mile than the “proper” route but it seemed that the best option was to carry on as returning to the village to take the other road would have involved a longer distance overall. So I had and extra mile to wlak on tarmac in the rain all uphill -yuk.

Reaching Alstonefield, wet and hungry I was feeling a little demoralised as I still had about 5 miles before I’d be back in Hartington and a dry room in the hostel. I lost the will to take photos and, in any case, the small town wasn’t so photogenic. I stopped and huddled behind a wall to grab a bite to eat and then set back off down the road. Fortunately I didn’t have to go too far down the tarmac before I reached a stile and the path over the fields.

It might have been wet but the scenery lifted the heart and the rain started to ease off.

I descended down Narrowdale, by-passing narrowdale Hill. On a nicer, drier day, I’d probably have climbed up to the summit, but today I carried on descending down the dale.

After a while I joined another “lonning”

I reached the footbridge over the Dove at the point where I entered Wolfscote Dale in the morning.

I crossed over and followed the path heading upstream along Beresford Dale towards Hartington.

It hadn’t been raining for a little while but the wet long grass brushing against my trousers ensured they didn’t dry out as I walked.

The path cut across the fields away from the river, reaching Hartington near the car park I’d parked on the day before. And then the heavens opened again.

I called in the cheese shop to purchase some Stilton to take home, queing outside in the rain while I waited my turn – it’s a small shop and only 2 people allowed inside at any one time. Then I had a walk up the hill to the hostel as the sheets of rain descended. I was glad to get back into my room where I could discard my wet clothing and dry off.

I was glad to get back but despite the soaking, which wasn’t completely unexpected, I’d enjoyed the walk (well, most of it!). And tomorrow the forecast was more promising!

Hartington to Longnor and back – via High Wheeldon

It was the start of Wimbledon fortnight – time to escape the constant tennis on the telly!

I had a couple of free days at the beginning of last week and a search of the YHA website found me a couple of nights cheap accomodation in the grand setting of Hartington Hall in the Peak District so last Sunday I was up early and driving to the southern part of the Peak to set out on a walk.

The Peak District isn’t so far from here, but getting there is a bit of a pain. I can catch the train to the north eastern part of the National Park but for other areasmeans a stop starty drive along the A6 (made a little easier by the link road from the airport that cuts out the need to drive through Stockport) or via Knutsford and Macclesfield. It’s so much easier to get up to the Lakes. But I fancied a change and the more gentle landscape of the White Peak compared to the rugged fells would certainly provide that. The area I was visiting was not so familiar to me but I’d discovered something that meant it had a personal significance – my family history research had revealed a connection with a main branch of my family tree.

The long range weather forecast had initially promised sunny skies during my short break, but it changed the nearer I got to Sunday, and now I was expecting grey skies and rain. But hey, ho, what’s the bother with a little water falling from the sky!

Hartington is an attractive old village and, consequently something of a “honeypot” for both walkers and motor tourists – but it still maintains an element of authenticity – much more so than bakewell where I stopped briefly on my way home at the end of my break. It’s one of the places where it’s permitted to produce Stilton , although it’s some distance from the village in Leicestershire that the cheese is named after, and there’s a popular Cheese Shop in the centre of the village opposite the pond and green.

Although I arrived reasonably early in the morning, the “free” parking spaces were already taken, but there’s a large car park on the edge of the village so I parked up, coughed up, booted up and set off. I was basing my walk on a route in the second volume of the Verterbrate Publishing Day Walks in the Peak District. I was doing it in the reverse direction, went higer on access land for part of the walk and added a diversion up a steep hill which probably has a family connection from a long time ago.

Hartington Village green

A short walk on tarmac out of the village passing the old church

and after climbing over a stile I was out on open country climbing the hillside on the east side of the Upper Dove valley

The skies were grey and gloomy, but it was good to be out on the remote hillside

This was limestone country (hence the “White Peak”) with rounded hills cut through by deep dales with outcrops of rock and dry stone walls.

Keeping to the higher ground, which was open access land, I diverted from the route a little, by-passing the small hamlets of Pilsbury (and the remains of its Motte and Bailey castle) and Crowdicote – although I have in mind another route where I’d take them in if I return to the area, which I’m certainly tempted to do.

In the distance I could make out the limestone reefs of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill (hard to see on the photo given the poor visibility) and also High Wheeldon

Looking back across the Dove Valley

and looking across the vally in the other direction

Keeping to the high ground above Crowdicote the summit of High Wheeldon was dead ahead

And now there were better views of Chrome Hill and Parkhouse Hill to the north.

These distinctive “dragon’s backs” are the remnants of coral reefs formed when the land that became England was submerged beneath a shallow tropical sea around 340 million years ago.

After a short, steep climb, I reached the summit of High Wheeldon

The land was donated to the National Trust in 1946 and ther’s a war memorial attached to the trig column

I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat and, despite the gloom, enjoyed taking in the views

Looking north towards the village of High Sterndale

I decided to take the path down the north side of the hill. It was a very steep descent and I was glad I had my walking poles with me to keep me steady. But it didn’t take too long to reach the foot of the hill, facing a dramatic limestone cliff

I carried on and now rejoined the guidebook route, taking a path across the fields towards Longnor.

Looking back across the fields to High Wheeldon
Chrome hill and Parkhouse Hills to the north

Reaching Longnor I’d left Derbyshire and was now in Staffordshire

Longnor church

Longnor is another old village of old stone buildings with alleyways and passages leading to the old market square

The car park in the village centre was full

and although there were not too many people around the little cafe on the square was busy and there was no room for a lone walker.

After a short rest on a bench on the square I carried on, passing through the village

and then taking a path past a farm and through the fields to join the Manifold Way

I was now following the course of the River Manifold in a valley separated from the Upper Dove Valley by a ridge of hills. The countryside was “pastoral” and the route passed through flat fields, running parrallel to the river, which made for easy walking.

The landscape becam more rugged to the south

By the small settlement of Brund the route left the Manifold way, following paths through fields back to Hartington via the hamlet of Sheen.

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Back in Hartington
Old farm buildings in Hartington

For a short while the cloud cleared above the village and I topped for a brew, sitting outside the village Post office which had a shop and cafe

Then it was time to return to the car, change out of my boots and drive up to the hostel to book in

A rather grand Youth Hostel

The hostel was in Hartington Hall, which dates back to the 17th Century and is a Grade II listed building. It’s been owned by the YHA since1948.

Anglezarke circular

A couple of weeks ago, on Saturday, I fancied another walk, but didnt feel like driving too far, so the obvious choice was to head over to the West Pennine Moors, only 20 minutes drive from home. I reckoned the peat would be dry so I worked out a route that included going “off piste”, keeping fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get bogged down!

I parked up at Rivington near the barns and set off at about 9 o’clock. It was grey and cloudy but sunshine was promised – although it arrived later than forecast.

I cut across to Rivington village and then through the field and by the brook, cutting up the path alongside Dean Wood Nature Reserve

up to the campsite at Wilcock’s farm.

I crossed the road and climbed over the stile and followed a less well used path onto the moor. After the dry weather he going was good, although it wouldn’t necessarily be like that in the winter.

I followed the path across the moor towards Old Rachel’s, one of a significant number on ruined farms on Anglezarke Moor. At one time people lived here. It must have been a bleak setting in winter, but it was a family home. However, the farms were bought and demolished by Liverpool Corporation after the Anglezarke and Rivington reservoirs were constructed, allegedly to protect the water supply.

On reaching Old Rachel’s I stopped for a while for a rest and to take in the views

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Old Rachel’s today
and how it used to look (source Wikipedia)

and was treated to the sight of a large flock of lapwings flying overhead.

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I carried on to Hempshaws and then on towards Horden Stoops.

There was only a mini-quagmire after Hempshaws – it’s usually very boggy here – which agured good for later in the walk. I got a close up view of a lapwing flying above the moor as I neared Horden Stoops.

Then I turned north following the path over Spitler’s and Redmond’s Edges over to Great Hill. The high cloud hadn’t cleared and there was a stiff breeze and I was glad I’d brought a fleece with me.

I climber to the summit of Great Hill and then stopped for a while in the shelter out of the wind for a bite to eat.

I descended down the path towards Drinkwaters but before I reached the ruin I took the path down towards another ruin, Great Hill Farm.

I doubled back along the Bottom of Great Hill towards the Edges,

getting close up views of a curlew. It flew over head a few times and then landed on the grass not far from the path. I must have been close to its nest. I tried to get a close up with my phone – this is the best I could do

Reaching the stile at the bottom of the path up to the top of Great Hill I turned onto the open moor and more or less followed a path over the pet heading towards Round Loaf. It was squidgy in a few places, and the path wasn’t always easy to trace, but it was generally OK.

There was plenty of bog cotton blooming

I stopped for a break on top of the tumulus

Winter Hill and Rivington Pike across the moor
Looking back to Great Hill

and then set off again across the peat towards Hurst Hill.

Looking back towards Round Loaf and Great Hill
The cairn on Hurst Hill

After enjoying the views for a while I headed down the path towards Moor Road.

Looking towards Healy Nab

Joining the road I walked along the tarmac for half a mile or so past Manor Farm

until I reached Jepson’s Gate where I took the path that headed back towards the moors.

The cloud had begun to disperse and is was getting hotter, especially in the sun.

I joined the path that cut across the fields towards Parson’s Bullogh and Allance Bridge.

The Yarrow at Allance Bridge

Reaching the road, I decided to walk back to Rivington beside the reservoirs so follwed the road a short distance before taking the path along Yarrow Reservoir.

Looking over Yarrow Reservoir towards the moors

I cut down the path down past the overflow (which, given the dry weather of late, wasn’t flowing) and then crossed the dam to join the path along the north side of Lower Rivington reservoir.

I crossed the dam between the two Rivington reservoirs stopping to watch the dingys sailing on the water of the Upper reservoir.

I follwed the the lake side path back to the Saxon barn and then up the road to my car.

The route

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.

Following the Coffins Part 2

I sat by the lake for a while enjoying the view and the sunshine and refueling. Then it was time to set off again. Not surprisingly it was busy as I walked along the lake shore with plenty of families enjoying messing about beside and in the water. Only after my trip did I discover via social media that Shazza of Sunshine and Celandines was also in Grasmere that day as well as a former collegue I knew through my work. It’s a small world as they say! Mind you, there were plenty of other people around.

At the foot of the lake I took the path alongside the river towards Rydal Water and carried on along the lower path along the lake shore. I’d made the decision to carry on to Rydal village and then return to Grasmere along the Coffin Route.

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On a hot sunny day during half term it wasn’t surprising that, like Grasmere, the lake shore was heaving with families.

Reaching Rydal I passed the church

Climbed the hill and turned off and cut through the grounds of Rydal Hall

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and then stopped at their cafe for a brew and get my water bottle refilled (they’re happy to do that for you). My blood sugar had now dropped so I munched on one of my energy bars.

I’d managed to bag a seat outdoors overlooking the river

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and this was the “view from the bridge”

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Rested, I walked up the hill and next to Wordsworth’s former home,

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and turned off down the Coffin Route.

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It was moderately busy as it’s a popular route that’s not difficult so attracts a range of people of varying abilities and there are good views across Rydal Water to Loughrigg and some of the higher fells beyond.

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Approaching Grasmere village towards the end of the walk I passed another of Wordsworth’s former homes – Dove Cottage.

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I arrived back in Grasmere which was now very busy with day trippers with queues outside the Gingerbread Shop and all the cafes and food shops. I sat for a while on a bench taking in the views of Stone Arthur and the other hills across the vally before returning to my car for the drive home (via Keswick Booths and the Tebay services farm shop where I did some shopping for a few tasty treats!).

Following the Coffins Part 1

After a night in the hostel I woke to another fine day with views over the fields to the high fells. After breakfast I loaded up the car and made an earlyish start, driving over to Grasmere. I’d had a think about a low level (or lowish if that’s a real word 😁) that would be too strenuous. I’d read in a book I’d purchased last year about the Cumbrian “coffin roads” about the route locals Chapel Stile in Langdale had to use to carry thei dead to be buried in the church in Grasmere. I’d decided to park in Grasmere and walk over the fells below Silver How over to Chapel Stile and then return by the coffin road. It seemd like it would be a decent circular route I’d not followed before, matching my requirements of something not too strenuous. As it happened I pushed myself a little harder than intended and also made some off the cuff changes to the planned route.

It was quiet in Grasmere and before I set out I grabbed myself a coffee in the Heaton Cooper Gallery (Lucia’s Cafe wasn’t open but this turned out to be a good substitute – a decent coffee with tables outside on a sunny day with a view over to Stone Arthur (and good cakes, sandwiches and breakfasts, too)

Energised by the caffine, I set off. This, right at the start, is where I made one of my decisions to vary the route, deciding to climb to the summit of Silver How rather than passing it lower down.

At first I felt pretty good climbing the lower slopes

and looking back, on a particularly fine morning, there were most excellent views over Helm Crag, Seat Sandal and Fairfield

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About half the way up (maybe a little further) my lack of fitness began to tell – not helped by a high blood sugar level (which explained why I felt so thirsty) caused by being tempted by the tea loaf at the cafe and not compensating with some insulin. Consequently I needed to stop a few times for a “blow” (in the Scouse parlance I picked up when in lived in Liverpool while at University this means a rest, not some illegal narcotic!). Being stubborn, I wasn’t going to let it beat me even if everyone else climbing up (not very many people I have to say) were overtaking me!

I eventually made it to the summit – time for another rest to soak up the views in every direction.

Down to Grasmere and Rydal Water

Farfield, Great Rigg and Seat Sandal

Pike o’ Blisco, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes

and the Coniston Fells

Rested and refreshed, I set off down from the summit on the path towards Langdale.

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Another change of mind now. I was enjoying being high up enjoying the great views. So rather than descend into the valley and climb back up again, I decided to saty up on the ridge and walk over to pick up the Coffin Route path as it crossed the top of the fell. I’m never one to stick to a plan if a better one becomes evident during the walk.

This is the path I’d have descended down into Langdale if I hadn’t changed my mind.

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Instead I carried on up and down on the hummicky fell (I probably made that word up too, but it seemed to describe the nature of the ridge), enjoying the walking and the views

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Looking back to Silver How

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Back to the Langdale fells

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and south to Elter water with Windermere visible in the distance

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I reached the coffin route towards the edge of the ridge and turned eastwards to folow it down to Grasmere. The descent here was extremely pcturesque – initially with views across to the fells and Grasmere

The route took an old “lonning” (a Cumbrian term for a lane or track) through the Hammerscar Plantation

The shade from the trees was most welcome. I expect that this would be a good walk during the autumn when the trees were wearing their coat of red, gold and brown leaves.

The lonning emerged on the road above the lake. Now to complete the Coffin Route I’d have followed it back to teh village. But the lake was tempting me so another change of plan and I walked down to the lake shore where I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat

It was about 1 o’clock now and I didn’t feel like calling it quits for the day, so another decision – I’d follow the shore of Grasmere and then on to Rydal Water where I decide whether to carry on to Rydal Village and return to Grasmere by another Coffin Route (one I’d walked a couple of times before). Alternatively I could miss out Rydal Water and cut across from White Moss and walk half of the route.

But this post has gone on long enough. part 2 to follow when you’ll find out which options I took!

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.

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).