Meandering in March


Sunday March 3rd. Almost Springtime in Chipping.

21miles with 3500 ft of ascent. Leader Tony Clark. 22 walkers and 1 dog.



The one thing I hope for more than anything when leading a walk is for fine weather and today, although it was cloudy and cool, it didn’t rain.


There were 22 of us and one dog who set out from the car park at Chipping and headed for Parlick and an early steep ascent; just three quarters of an hour into the walk and we’d already climbed 1,000ft.  We continued northwards to Fiensdale Head, across moorland paths that degenerated into peat groughs. The route then had us clambering through heather towards Fiensdale Water and we continued along a narrow path that clings to the slope of a steep-sided valley before making a rapid descent and on to Langden Castle, which must be the least impressive castle in the country. It’s just a corrugated tin roofed, stone walled hut.


I was aware that if I hadn’t got a customary team photo, I would be in trouble from Hilary, so when we reached the road I managed to get everyone together, except my rebellious little brother to pose for the picture.


We walked by Sykes Farm before turning off for our second big ascent of the day, up towards Whin Fell.  It’s a more gradual climb than Parlick, and as we moved upwards there was almost silence, the only sound being the quiet panting coming from 22 determined walkers. Once at the top, we stopped for lunch looking back over Ram Clough and the Bowland Fells.


The view from Oyster Rake must be one of the best in Lancashire, with Brennands Farm down below and a wilderness of featureless moorland beyond. We dropped down to the farm, then headed for the geographic centre of Great Britain, Dunsop Bridge, where we stopped for some refreshment. It was here, in 1992, BT installed its 100,000th payphone.


The way back to Chipping took us alongside the River Hodder to Burholme Bridge and we crossed the bridge to New Laund Farm, where there’s a traditional farm cheese press from around 1860.  We walked up onto New Laund Hill that proffers a fine view of the tree-lined valley and River Hodder. We then descended to Fair Oak continuing onto Knot Hill and more historical interest in the form of a restored lime kiln.


We arrived back in Chipping at 4:45pm.  The Forest of Bowland isn’t as popular as other areas, such as the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District, but still provides some good walking and wonderful scenery. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the day and particular thanks to my little brother for bringing up the rear and making sure no one got lost.




Wednesday March 13th. Looking for Ollie.

13 miles from Garstang. Leader: Nancy Johnson. 21 walkers and 5 dogs.



Key locations.

Garstang Municipal Car Park, Greenhalgh Castle Farm, Heald Farm, Calder Vale, Kellbrick Farm, Barnacre Moor, Calder Side, Grizedale Bridge, Fell End, Nicky Nook, Scorton, Mytten Hall, Woodacre Great Wood, Broom Hill.

Weather— A crisp, sun blessed day, but with a sharp easterly wind

Attendees --- 21 walkers and 5 dogs

We all gathered on the Municipal Car Park in Garstang; it’s ideally located, but the parking fee stung a little- £3.00 Time was a restriction; we had to return by 16.00hrs or pay an extra 80 pence.

The weather was fantastic, a beautiful blue sky and sunshine.  Our walk started in Garstang, which is a quiet Lancashire market town, situated on the bank of the river Wyre. This small town was mentioned in the Doomsday book and is steeped in history, boasting some beautiful architecture. It also became known as the world’s first Fairtrade town and in 2008 was voted to be the best town in Europe. This small town is loved and cared for by its resident, its cleanliness and display of spring flowers are evidence.

Twenty one happy walkers and 5 well loved/behaved dogs were set to enjoy the day. We proceeded from the car park walking down to the river Wyre and following the path to the right, to join High Street. We then turned left to cross the bridge and then left again along the lane, past the school and then past the remains of Greenhalgh Castle, The castle was built in 1490 by Thomas Stanley - the Earl of Derbyshire, in order to defend his estates around Garstang. It was later besieged by Cromwell's parliamentary army during 1646 who later ordered it to be dismantled. Today just one of the towers remains although many of the local farmhouses have incorporated the stones in their buildings.It is said that the castle or more the land on which it stood was a gift to Thomas Stanley from Henry Tudor for his services (Treachery) during the battle of Bosworth.

Bearing left via the renovated stone residences; perhaps built with the stone from the castle ruins. We made our way across the two fields bearing left, which took us across the old Knott End railway line, the main Northern Railway line and over the M6 motorway.

Continuing ahead (east) past Clarksons Farm, and taking a left turn over the style and headed towards the church; a very much cherished Church and grave yard. This meant that we had some road walking, but not for long, when we made our way towards Heald Farm. Before the farm we entered the wood on the left (to bypass the farm) and then continued east, up along the left hand side of the wall through 4 fields to Stricken Lane; it’s usually very muddy here; not today!

Cattle were in the farm yard, so we took care not to upset them, especially with the calf that was being protected by its mummy.

On the lane we crossed to the concealed path opposite and followed the path down to the road in to Calder Vale; on this route we encountered a very wobbly see-saw style; I will report it to the appropriate authority. We were now getting very close to Ollie. It didn’t take long for him to be spotted—he seems to have been here for quite some time, but he sits proudly and certainly brings a giggle!

Walking into Calder Vale past the cottages on the left, we made our way to the bridge and had our morning drinks stop. This village was founded by Quakers Jonathan and Richard Jackson and in 1835 a cotton-weaving mill, the Lappet Mill was built; powered by the River Calder. The mill still exists and is a working cotton mill. One of its main products is the red, black and white checked cloth used for the Arabs and it was said that Yasser Arafat’s head dresses were made at the mill. The Jackson brothers also built many of the terraced houses still in occupation close to the mill; we could even hear the looms working whilst we enjoyed our stop.

We didn’t cross the river, but took the path to the left at the end of the cottages, climbing northward through a little bluebell wood and then across 3 fields to pass via Kelbrick Farm. We continued to cross the tarmac road, crossing the field and then taking a right towards Bank Farm, here we took a right turn to pass over Barnacre Moor. As we continued onwards and upwards we were taking in fantastic views across Barnacre reservoir and Grizedale Lea reservoir. We continued along the wide track for approximately half a mile to meet the tarmac road, here we took a left and followed the road to Grizedale Bridge.

It appears that quite a significant amount of work has been completed here. There are a couple of stone seats here; good place to shelter on a windy day. We took the well laid gravelled path from the road in a north westerly direction through two grand wooden gates and then took the path across three fields. It’s along this stretch that we spotted two Thirlmere Way gates. There is also a very clear view of the now listed, iconic Forton (Lancaster) Services on the M6 motorway. After passing Fell End Farm on our right, we continued straight ahead to the wooden gate, here we turned left and approached the T junction, when we turned left again and took the wide track heading south, until we reached the kissing gate on our right. The climb to the Trig points of Nicky Nook began!!   Lunch stop was now just a climb away!! Although there were some hungry looking faces and rumbling tummies!

Nicky Nook is a delightful fell overlooking the M6 motorway, Scorton and the Fylde Coast. It’s not particularly high at 215 m, but it’s a well loved location just before the Bowland Fells. Our group spread out here, some fitter than others reached the top quickly, however I do believe that being hungry helped the quick assent!        

We found a brilliant spot for our lunch break; sheltered from the icy wind. The views here were outstanding. Many of us were identifying well know land marks such as Blackpool Tower, the snow capped Lakeland Fells; spectacular, Black Combe, Barrow, Grange Over Sands, The Isle of Man, and even the Welsh Hills. I’ve walked this fell several times, but I’ve never been lucky enough to have such fantastic views; we were blessed.

Our descent of Nicky Nook was via the wide path going west, and overlooking the tarn on our right. 

This took us down to Higher Lane, at the T junction we turned right and at the next T junction turned left into Snow Hill Lane. This took us over the M6 motorway bridge into Scorton Village. A village with 3 Churches, a garden centre/gift shop/ tea room, a village store and of course a pub—there could be more! There are some public toilets, but you will need 20 pence if you need to take a visit!

We were now on a mission to return to the car park before 16:00hrs. We passed through the village heading south and turned left into Tithe Barn Lane; a slight climb took us under another M6 motorway bridge, after approx half a mile we took the first stile on the right to pass Mitten Hall; renovated to a high spec, but sadly has the constant humming noise of the busy motorway

We continued south through three fields and entered Woodacre Great Wood. We crossed the field and took another bridge over the motorway and then over the main line railway bridge. We had a slight delay here; a member of our group was thought to be missing, however after a head count, all was well; thankfully.

We took the path directly opposite the railway, through the newly ploughed field, and followed Grizedale Brook, which took us on to Broom Hill, where it joins the river Wyre. Further down we crossed the river to head back to Garstang. With the Wyre on our left, we followed the riverside to return to the car park, well before 16:00hrs.

Thank you to all who joined the walk, I was blessed and truly enjoyed your company; good folk, a lovely walk, fantastic weather, we couldn’t have asked for more, except perhaps a sweeper!



Wednesday March 27th. The Face in the Rock.

18 miles from Foulridge Wharf. Leader: Ken Noble. 7 walkers.



7 hardy walkers left Foulridge Wharf for the 2nd “Face in the Rock” walk. We left at 09:10hrs to give anyone who had been stuck in traffic a bit of leeway as it had been snowing for quite some time.

All 7 survived many snow showers (some of them quite heavy), many snowdrifts (up to my nether regions on one occasion) and a few sunny intervals.

Although the weather wasn’t too kind, we still had good views and everyone enjoyed the day.

Once again I told the story of the cow falling into the canal, the haunting, the mob attack on John Wesley and all the other interesting (I hope) facts about people and places which we passed.

One of our members (who wasn’t actually on the walk), had twisted my arm to award a prize to the first person to find the face in the rock. I announced this before we set off and explained what the prize would be and the conditions attached to receive it. After giving everyone a few clues, Steve Clark was the winner. Hope he’ll be able to collect his prize. A Slater’s icecream on my “In Search of Slater’s Icecream” walk in August.



Thank you to Steve Clark for the photos