Ashurst Beacon from Appley Bridge

Since returning from our break in Appleby we’ve had fairly typical Autumn weather – regular grey and rainy days – not very inviting for getting out for a decent walk. I’d been getting a little stir crazy, so when there was the chance of a let up in the rain and a little sunshine, I’ve been booting up and getting out for local walks from the house. A week ago I decided to go a little further afield, but only just! I took the Southport train and got off at Appley Bridge, only two stops down the line from Wallgate station, for a walk up to Ashurst Beacon, returning to the station via the canal towpath.

It had rained on and off all morning but the forecast was promising for the afternoon. The sun was shining when I left home and during the train journey but as I alighted from the train there were a few raindrops which soon turned into a heavy downpour. By the time I’d opened my rucksack and put on my Torrentshell it had stopped! And I didn’t see another drop for the rest of the afternoon!

After a short walk along the road I took the path in between the rows of houses and through a muddy field

I was soon on a drier track starting to head uphill – not very steep though

Looking back across the fields over Wigan towards Winter Hill

Winding my way along the paths through fields and woodland and quiet lanes, I eventually arrived at Ashurst’s Beacon, on top of the 570 foot high Ashurst’s Hill.

The tower tower was built in 1798 by Sir William Ashurst, as a watch tower to warn of a French invasion in the lead up to the Napoleonic War. It’s a Grade II listed building.

The tower and it’s surroundings was left to Wigan Corporation in 1962 “for the enjoyment of the people of Wigan“. although it’s now in West Lancashire District (although one of the people of Wigan was there to enjoy it!). The plaque commemorating this seems to have disappeared from the side of the tower – probably robbed and melted down for scrap.

There’s an orientation plate pointing out the landmarks and when I was last up here there were expansive views right over to Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland Fells, the West Pennine Moors and, Southport, Liverpool and North Wales.

Not this time though. Since my last visit, which I now realise must have been getting on for 20 years ago, trees have sprouted up completely obscuring the views. It’s perhaps good for the environment but that didn’t make me any less disappointed. 😞

Nevertheless, as I started to descend, leaving the woods behind, views opened up towards the moors

I carried on down the hill taking a different route than my ascent.

Until I reached the Leeds Liverpool canal

I then followed the tow path back to Appley Bridge

The trees on the opposite bank were wearing their autumn coats!

There was a narrow boat moored up

Looking back along the canal from the Bridge

It’s a decent little walk – a few hour’s saunter on an Autumn afternoon – not far from home. I hadn’t seen many people, just a few dog walkers and local residents working in their gardens. I was disappointed about the loss of the views from the Beacon, but overall, that didn’t spoil the walk too much!

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

Clitheroe and Downham

Now I’ve more free time I’ve been thinking about getting myself an e-bike. I used to do a lot of cycling at one time – more than 15 years ago to be honest, but my bike, a decent hybrid, has hardly been out of the shed since then. I’m not sure that the old legs could cope with the hulls around here these days so an e-bike does sound appealing. But they’re not cheap, especially some of the ones I’ve been looking at. The Ribble Hybrid AL e Trail has particularly caught my eye, but it’s expensive, costing £2000 more than the non-electric equivalent. Can I justify the cost? Well I thought I should go and take a look. The company have a showroom on the outskirts of Clitheroe, an hour’s drive away, so it seemed sensible to go and have a look. And given a decent weather forecast we decided to make a day of it. No, not a day in the bike showroom but after sussing out the bike we spent the rest of the day in and around Clitheroe.

First stop was Holmes Mill, aformer textile mill close to the centre of town that’s been convered into a food hall, beer hall, brewery, hotel and cinema.

We parrked up and had a look round the food hall. Lot’s of tasty stuff on display, much of it local produce from Bowland and the Ribble Valley.

The food also serve light meals and drinks so as it was midday and we aere starting to feel hungry so grabbed a table outdoors – it was already starting to get busy – and ordered a couple of “planks” from the menu. They arrived promptly.

Well fed, we drove the short distance into town centre and parked up. The next destination was Clitheroe Castle which stands on a prominent hill surrounded by 16 acres of park land in the centre of town. Clitheroe is a pleasant market town with mainly independent shops and is the home of a certain WordPress blogger! We had visited the Castle before, but that was a long time ago when our offspring were very small and we took them to see the castle. I think the last time I was in the town properly (not counting driving through it or visiting a client on the outskirts) was when I was conducting some research in the Library for a project which investigated the impact of the local cement work’s plan to burn waste solvents to fire the kiln during my studies for my Masters.

On our way up to the castle we passed one of the markers for the Lancashire Witches’ Walk, a 51-mile (82 km) long-distance footpath between Barrowford and Lancaster, opened in 2012 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the trials of the Pendle witches.

The poet laureate,  Carol Ann Duffy, was commissioned to write a poem for the trail and Ten cast iron tercet waymarkers, designed by Stephen Raw, each inscribed with the name of one of those executed (in this case Isabel Robey – who was actually from St Helens but was hanged with the women from Pendle) a verse of the poem the have been installed at sites along the route. This was the fourth marker on the trail,

A short steep climb and we reached the castle

The Norman keep – the second smallest in England – was built in the late 12th century and was garrisoned by a small company of troops to keep an eye ont he strategic route along the Ribble Valley.

On a fine day there were good views all around from the battlements surrounding the kep

Looking towards Pendle Hill
The view towards the Bowland Fells
The hills of the Yorkshire Dales in the distance

There are several other buildings in the Castle grounds that house the town museum It isn’t free entry but decided to visit. As with many local museums it’s exhibits are mainly aimed at children (I bet they have a lot of school visits during the year) but we found plenty of interest, particularly about the history of the castle, town and local industry.

A recreated Victorian kitchen in the museum
A textile work in the museum rembering the Pendle Witches

There was an exhibition of paintings and other exhibits on the theme of cycling (quite relevant given the original reason for our trip over here) in the Steward’s House – this is the building where the landlord’s representative lived.

The castle site remained in private ownership until 1920, when it was sold to the people of Clitheroe for a consirable sum to create a war memorial. We though that the landlord was rather mean spirited, and could have donated the castle and the land to the town, but that’s the landlord class for you. The town raised more than they needed to pay off the landlord so the surplus was used to create the pleasant park.

A very poignant memorial

We returned to the car and decided to drive over to the small village of Downham, a few miles away. It’s a very picturesque, small village at the bottom of Pendle Hill. The properties are all owned by the Assheton family who rent or lease them out and they don’t allow residents to install overhead electricity lines, aerials or satellite dishes. This has made the village a popular location for filming period TV programmes and films, including the BBC One series Born and Bred. More notably it was the main location for the 1961 Bryan Forbes film, Whistle Down the Wind.

Downham
Downham

I’ve been there several times, last time a couple of years ago with the offspring, but this was a first for J. We’re both fans of the film and so after stopping for an ice cream at the small cafe / shop, we went for a short walk where I was able to point out the main locations used in the film.

The farmhouse where Hayley Mills and her film sister and brother lived with Worsall Hill behind. The hill features at the beginning of the film when the children are seen running across and down it.
The barn where Alan bates playing the runaway murderer hides.
Pendle Hill seen across the fields during our walk

After returning to the village set off back to Clitheroe where we’d decided to eat out, but as it was a little too early, we decided to drive over to the riverside Brungerley Park where ther’e a sculpture trail. There isn’t a car park but given the time of the day (early evening) we had no trouble finding a place to park on the road close to the entrance to the park.

Here’s a selection of the sculptures, including some by Halima Cassell, who’s work, complex geometric scultpures, I rather like.

Common Comfrey by Halima Cassell
As The Crow Flies by David Halford
Fir Cone by Halima Cassell
Otter by Fiona Bowley
The Ribble King by Matthew Roby
Sika Deer by Clare Bigger

We spet a good hour or so meandering through the park on a mild evening but it was time to go and get something to eat! We’d decided to return to Holmes Mill and eat in the Beer Hall, where it looked like they had a decent “pub grub” menu. They also have a very extensive beer menu, including a range of Bowland beers that are brewed on the premises.

The beer hall – I took the photo during our earlier visit – it was surprisingly busy in the evening when we returnedgiven that it was a Wednesday. I bet it’s heaving at the weekend.
The mill engine that used to power the textile machinery.

The food was pretty good – and very filling. These is the lamb kebabs I ordered

Feeling stuffed after our meal it was time to set off for home. We’d had a very enjoyable and busy day. I think I really out to get out into the Ribble Valley more often.

On the moors – before the heat arrived

Much of July was sunny with little rain so it was a good time to get up onto Anglezarke and take a route over the blanket bog that covers the moor while the peat was dry and springy rather than a boggy morass. So the Saturday after my mid week walk in the Peak District I decided to do just that. We’d been warned of a heat wave coming in with some very high (for the UK!) temperatures which wouldn’t be conducive for walking, so it seemed sensible to get out before it arrived.

I parked up at Rivington and then cut across the meadow to Sheep House Lane, walking a short distance down the tarmac past the Tea Room (it was too soon in the walk to take advantage) before turning on to the path across the fields
and beside the small brook (the path which had been damaged by the Spring storms had been repaired) and then up the track towards Dean Wood
Climbing over the stile I took the path across the fields towards Allance Bridge
Looking down to Yarrow Reservoir I could se that the water level was very low
This was the view down to the water from Allance Bridge. I can’t recall seeing the water level that low .
Looking over the other side of the bridge, this was the state of the inlet where the Yarrow usually enters the reservoir – it’s usually full of water and the River seemed to be reduced to a trickle.
After crossing the bridge I turned up the path across the fields from Parson’s Bullough
Eventually reaching the track from Jepson’s Gate. Rather than turn right here and follow the track towards Lead Mine Clough I turned left towards Jepson’s Gate
Joining the minor road I turned right and after a short distance I wnt through a gate and crossed onto the open access land. There was a hint of a path which soon petered out so I had to make my way across the rough and tufty ground. Luckily after the dry few weeks the ground was firm underfoot, otherwise I would have been doing some bog hopping!
Looking west over to Healey Nab (In my teens I used to live just over the other side of this modest hill) to Chorley
I carried on across the moor eventually joining the path for Hurst Hill. I turned off onto the path towards Grain Pole Hill
Looking north from the summit of Grain Pole Hill
My next objective – Hurst Hill. I retraced my steps and then joined the path towards the summit.
Reaching the summit. Good views all round
Looking towards Great Hill
across to Redmond and Spitler’s Edges
and, to the south, Winter Hill and Rivington Pike
I carried on across the path across the peat towards the prehistoric burial mound, Round Loaf. This can be a quagmire but the peat was largely dry and springy underfoot wit just the occasional muddy patch. With the peat so dry there’s a real risk it could be set on fire by a barbecue or carelessly disposed fag end. But it was quiet with not many people around.
Last time I was up here the moor was covered with “bog cotton” (Cotton Grass) but there were only a few patches left on the wetter sections of the peat.
I stopped for a bite to eat and to soak up the views on the top of Round Loaf
Before setting off along the path across the moor towards Great Hill
Looking north across the moor
Some more bog cotton – a warning to avoid a boggy section!
Reaching the bottom of Great Hill I decided against climbing to the top of the familiar summit but turned right taking the flagged path towards Redmond’s Edge. I’ve no idea who “Redmond” was or what the name means and have drawn a blank searching on the web.
Reaching Redmond’s Edge, rather than carrying on along the path over Spitler’s Edge and on to Horden Stoops, I turned west down the path I’d walked up from the opposite direction a few weeks before. It’s not marked on the OS map but there’s a clear path to follow these days.
Carrying on down the path. I can’t remember the grass on the moor looking so green. Strange, considering the dry conditions of late.
Continuing along the path, which eventually joins the main track across the moor from Belmont Road to Lead Mine Clough
At Hempshaws I took the path toward the ruined farm known as Old Rachel’s
The view over to the Edges from Old Rachel’s where I stopped for a short break
Carrying on along the path I passed the waymarker that had been erected by the Peak and Northern Footpath Society
Looking south towards Winter Hill and Noon Hill

I turned south continuing along the path until I reached the Belmont Road near to Moses Cockers. After a short stretch of tarmac (fortunately not too many vehicles encountered – it can be a bit of a race track this road, especially for motorcyclists) I turned off and followed the paths back to my car.

It was a fine, warm day on the Saturday but the temperature was just right for walking. It certainly wasn’t for the next few days as the promised heat wave arrived. More a time for sitting in the shade in the garden with an iced drink which is exactly what I did!

A walk from Parbold

Last Thursday promised to be a fine day – time to take advantage of my changed work:life balance and get out for a walk. I didn’t feel like travelling to far so a local ramble was in order. I’ve spent countless hours wandering on the West Pennine Moors ever since I was a teenager, but I’ve never explored the countryside to the west of Wigan – unless you count a couple of stays at the Tawd Vale and Bispham Hall Scout camp sites when I was in the cubs and scouts – and even then we didn’t stray too far. So I decided to take the train over to Parbold (only a 15 minute journey from Wallgate station on the Southport line) for a walk that would take me through over a couple of small hills, down a hidden “fairy glen” and along a stretch of the Leeds Liverpool canal.

After a relatively dry spell of weather the the footpaths over the fields and through the woods were dry and the going was good. However, this would probably not be a good route to follow in the winter (unless there had been a hard frost) as looking at the uneven nature of the paths it was pretty clear that much of the route would be very muddy after a period of wet weather. Wellies would definitely be in order!

I left the station and walked through the village joining a quiet lane and then out onto the path through the fields

Belted Galloway cattle with their calves

After crossing a minor road I reached Hunter’s Hill. There used to be a quarry here, but it’s been transformed into a small Country Park and Nature Reserve

My route skirted the edge of the site from where there were extensive over the West Lancashire Plain over to the coast, with Blackpool Tower visible in the distance. There was a hint of the Lake District Hills on the horizon, but they were hidden in the haze.

Leaving the Nature Reserve my route took me down hill on a minor road

Passing the entry to Harrock Hall

before turning down a quiet lane

which would take me towards my next destination, Harrock Hill

I passed some attractive stone barn conversions (you’ve got to have a few bob to live around here – a pleasant area within commuting distance of Liverpool, Manchester and Preston)

and then turned off, climbing over a stile onto a path that led through the woods and across a field and then onto a path through woods up to the top of the small hill

At the summit there’s the remains of an old windmill, which dates back to the 17th Century

Leaving the summit, I turned south down another path through green fields which had extensive views across to the West Pennines

Looking over to the moors – Great Hill, Anglezarke, Rivington Pike and Winter Hill

Further along the path the views opened up to include Pendle Hill and the Bowland Fells

I was passing land owned by the Harrock Hall estate, my route effectively circumnavigating Harrock Hall, although it was hidden in the trees. The Hall dates back to the 17th Century and was extended in the 19th Century and is a listed building. It used to be the ancestral home of the Rigbye family, local landowners, and John Rigby, a Catholic martyr, was born here around 1670. He lived during the turbulent Tudor period when both Catholics and Protestants were executed due to their beliefs. Rigby was executed in 1600 and was canonised in 1970. A Catholic 6th Form College in Wigan is named after him.

I reached another minor road at High Moor and after a short distance on the tarmac turned down another minor lane and then along a path across the fields

Reaching the main Wigan to Parbold Road, I crossed over and set off down the Fairy Glen another Country Park. It’s a narrow wooded valley created by Sprodley Brook which has, over time, cut down through the underlying sandstone to create a narrow valley with small waterfalls and cliff faces. Despite living only a few miles away, and having driven past many times on the way to Southport, I never knew this very peasant hidden valley was here.

I emerged in fields overlooking Ashurst Beacon on the other side of the Douglas Valley

I carried on through fields and woodland where there were displays of bluebells

eventually reaching the Leeds Liverpool canal

I carried on along the towpath towards Parbold

More bluebells on the other side of the canal

I reached Parbold where I left the canal near the old windmill which has been converted into a gallery selling art works.

There’s a pub here

and a cafe

Time to reinvigorate myself with a brew and a cake!

https://explore.osmaps.com/route/12160988/parbold-hunter-hill-harrock-hill-fairy-glen?lat=53.599618&lon=-2.764020&zoom=13.4160&overlays=&style=Leisure&type=2d

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

DSC09036
DSC09038
DSC09037
DSC09041

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

DSC09042

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

DSC09044

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.

DSC09049

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.

DSC09052

The track carried on past the house through more fields

DSC09055
DSC09060
DSC09061

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.

DSC09062

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.

Winter Hill, Belmont and Anglezarke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking back to the Pike

and on to the mast on top of Winter Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking down to Belmont.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and, in the other direction, over to Winter Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ruins of “Old Rachel’s

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

Looking over to Winter Hill

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

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

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

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

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

Back on the Moors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC08525

the summit of Rivington Pike

DSC08526

and good views over the moors to the north

DSC08524

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

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

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

and set off up the flagged path.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

past a ruined farm and a small quarry

and entered the woods.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

emerging at Rivington village, across from the old Unitarian Chapel

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

A wander round the reservoirs

We’ve had a spate of pretty decent weather during September so trying to take advantage of it I took an afternoon off work last week and drove over to Rivington. I fancied a relatively easy, low level walk to wind down from work, so decided that a circumnavigation of Lower Rivington, Anglezarke and Yarrow reservoirs would do the job. I ended up extending it a little and did manage a bit of a climb and a short section on the edge of the moors.

I parked up but kept away from the crowds that cluster around the Saxon barn cutting across the fields over to Rivington village, where there was an attractive display of wild flowers on the green.

I then walked down to the dam that separates the two Rivington reservoirs, crossing it and taking the metalled path on the west side of the lake.

It was bright and sunny as I strolled down the leafy lane.

I reached the next dam which separates the Lower Rivington and Anglezarke reservoirs and, after waiting for a small group of elderly walkers climb over the other side of the stile I took my turn, and then followed the path along the shore.

Initially the path took me through fields then half a mile or so on a minor road before a turning down a farm lane and returning to walking past fields with views over to the moors.

Approaching Healy Nab the path took me through shady woodland

and then back past fields of sheep.

At the end of the track I reached the minor road from Heapy to Anglezarke, just opposite this old farmhouse. The date above the door was 1696 – but I reckon it’s been extended and modernised since them!

I decided to extend the walk a little by diverting down the narrow hedge lined lane to White Coppice, a familiar route from my teenage years when I used to walk from our home on the other side of the Nab over to Great Hill.

I soon reached the pleasant hamlet

resting on a bench facing the cricket field for a drink and a snack. It looked like there hadn’t been a match on the field for some time – no doubt due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Setting off again I took the path along the Goyt towards Anglezarke reservoir. Although it had been sunny up until now, cloud were blowing in from the east – not the usual direction as the prevailing wind is from the west.

Reaching the small Upper Bullough reservoir (this was the first reservoir to be constructed around here) I cut up on the path up the hill

emerging opposite manor farm – another old farmhouse that has undergone substantial extension and modifications.

I walked along the road for about half a mile until I reached Jepson’s Gate

and followed the path towards the moors

However, today I turned right to take the path through the fields down to Yarrow reservoir, which had been occupied by cattle with their calves and a few young bulls the last time I was walking up here.

Great views towards the moors

Winter Hill and Rivington Pike over the fields

The path descended close to Allance bridge.

I decided to take the path through the fields to the east of Yarrow reservoir and then back to my car via Rivington village.

Another good walk in familiar territory only a few miles from home.

Rivington and Anglezarke – Before the Storm

Well, the last few weeks we’ve seen the return of the usual British summer weather – rain and more rain with some occasional sunshine – and a couple of storms. Last Thursday, with wind and rain warnings for the following few days appearing on my phone from the Met Office app, I decided to make the most of what looked like a potentially half decent day and get out for a walk. The wind had already started to pick up so I thought it best to stay local and so headed up to Rivington to set out for a walk up on the moors. There were plenty of parking spaces mid morning – although it would be heaving when I returned in the afternoon.

It was quite pleasant and sunny when I set off, although a little windy.

I headed past the Hall barn and set off along the path towards the Pike

and climbed up through the Ornamental gardens.

I hadn’t intended to climb up to the top of the Pike, but I can never resist a hill, so that was the first of my diversions.

Visibility wasn’t too bad so there were good views from the top on a fine morning.

Back down the top I took the track past the Pigeon Tower

and carried on along the old Belmont Road (now a track) heading towards Anglezarke Moor.

It was wet underfoot in places. But, no worries, I was wearing my boots and I quite enjoying splashing in the puddles (yes I know, second childhood!)

reaching the modern Belmont Road, I crossed over on to the moor, passing the source of the Yarrow.

I now had several options but decided against walking over the edge to Great Hill as that would have extended my walk further than I wanted. So instead I took the path heading westwards over the moor. Going was good at first

but, given all the rain we’d had recently, as expected, some bog hopping was required as I approached the ruined farms at Hempshaws (it’s always bad here)

But after Hempshaws I was walking on a track used by farmers so it was considerably drier underfoot.

I carried on along the track across the moorland, past the various ruined farms, until I reach Lead Mine Valley.

Good views, as usual, over towards Winter Hill and Rivington Pike.

I climbed up the hill to the other side of the Clough intending to take the path through the fields down to Yarrow Reservoir. However I could see that they were occupied by herds of cattle including cows accompanied by their calves and a few young bulls. I’m not usually worried by cows but they can be dangerous if they think their young could be threatened and I definitely not keen on walking through a field with bulls in it. Another change of route was required so I went back down the hill and walked down the valley following the river towards the reservoir

The water looks dirty and brown due to the peat it flows through higher up the clough.

Reaching the reservoir I followed the western shoreline, taking the gravel track, rather than the path through the fields on the eastern side – I’d had enough of mud by now. Reaching Rivington village I followed the path along the shore of the Lower reservoir as far as the Saxon barn. The Go Ape was open and there were plenty of daredevils walking on the ropes up in the trees and sliding down the zip wires and plenty of people congregating by the barn. But it was easy enough to avoid the crowds as I made my way back to the car.