February Flounderings

Grange Over Sands. Social week away


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Reservoir Round. Sunday February 28th. 20 miles. Leader: Ken Noble


With the promise of a dry day, 18 walkers from various groups left Smithills Hall to view a few reservoirs, but only 16 stayed to the end.

The first body of water viewed is Victoria Lake, so not actually a reservoir.


From Barrow Bridge we crossed Old Links golf course before skirting Johnson Fold and passing close to Doffcocker Lodge. Next was High Rid reservoir and then the fishing lodges near Memorial forest. On the path up to Chorley Old Road I found the deepest mud hole and went in up to my knee! This had been a stoney track up to this point. Hilary apparently did something similar, but not quite as bad.


After a short break by the boundary wall of Wilderswood we were soon crossing the river Douglas where Norman insisted on saying “Good morning “ to it!

Soon we were at Rivington where the real reservoirs are, but the toilet facilities seemed to be of more interest.

First Lower Rivington, then Upper Rivington were seen on the left, then Yarrow on the right and then a brief glimpse of Anglezarke down on the left.


Our lunch stop was at Alance Bridge, where two walkers had to leave to do something more important, something about taking the wife out I think!

We had to walk a few miles to the next reservoir which was Ward’s reservoir, locally known as the Blue Lagoon. Strangely the footpath has been re-routed into the water! Fortunately for those who can’t walk on water unless it’s frozen, there is a dry route.


Another short break was taken at Belmont where we took advantage of the benches outside the church.

Everybody was enchanted by the pigs and piglets just before San Marino's.


Then there was Ornamental reservoir and Dingle Reservoir, and last but not least was an unnamed reservoir used as a fishing lake just passed Cubbins Farm.

After crossing the busy A675 to Horrocks Fold, we were soon back to the car park at Smithills, with the sun still shining.


Thanks to everybody for supporting the walk.




Click here for Ken's pictures


Pictures below from Hilary



Hellifield Hikeabout. Wednesday February 24th. 15 miles. Leader: Barbara Shelton.


The sun shines on the righteous – twice! We couldn’t believe our luck when we had blue skies and sunshine all the way for both the recce and the scheduled walk – amazing, and with the added bonus that the ground was still frozen in places so that reduced the mud factor (ok so not all of it!)

Traffic problems, and in one case (poor Hilary!) a breakdown en route, caused some delays in getting to the start, and in fact poor Bernard didn’t make the start and ended up doing his own walk! Nevertheless, twenty five people, including new or relatively new faces from South Manchester Group, East Cheshire Ramblers and from the Ilkeley area amongst others, and two dogs, headed out of Hellifield up to Haw Lane before branching off across the moors (some unfrozen boggy bits here) to pick up Langber Lane leading to Scaleber Force (or Foss). On the way up some of us had splendid views of a Barn Owl which was sitting on a fence post for several minutes before flying into the grass. This was a real treat as these birds are normally crepuscular (look it up!!). There was a brief stop at the Force to admire the waterfall, a lovely 40 ft fall which tumbles over limestone cliffs into a deep pool.

Swinging westwards, lanes and tracks abounding with snowdrops lead us down to cross the A65 and on to the banks of the sparkling River Ribble for the lunch break. The Ribble Way was followed southwards for much of the way back, some of it well away from the river but very scenic nevertheless, with the added joy of Spring lambs in the fields. Passing Hollin Hall, we skirted Rathmell, and went past Cappleside (Hill of the Horses), the unofficial manor house of the village.

In the afternoon we had a short break near Wigglesworth Hall Farm, by Wigglesworth Beck, a tributary of the Ribble. It was clear from the stretches where we were close to the Ribble that the water levels had been very high, and the flood plain area visible in the afternoon still looked like several lakes in places. Before reaching Cow Bridge there was another birdwatching opportunity as we checked out a hide overlooking the marshes where Oystercatcher and Shelduck can be seen. Leaving the Ribble Way at Cow Bridge, our route took us up to Bendgate for a short stretch of ‘A’ road (unpavemented unfortunately, though an unofficial alternative does exist), to Gallaber and back to the Black Horse for a welcome drink. Here we at last met up with Bernard, looking very relaxed on the Chesterfield, and so smart and clean we couldn’t believe he’d done 15 miles too!!

Barbara Shelton




Click here for Ken's photos





Nearly the last blast of February, A Settle to Malham Circular. Sunday February 21st. 19 miles. Leader: Julie Spencer.


A replacement walk and leader instead of the one advertised, boldly going where no one wants to go again.


I wasn’t expecting many people turning up as the forecast was to be wet and windy (once again) so was very surprised that I had a merry group of 13 walkers, unlucky for some.


After a photo in the centre of Settle, we set off walking on the road towards Scalebar Force and by this time, full waterproofs were donned as the weather had deteriorated.


Morning break was by the bridge at Otterburn where after conferring with my two co-pilots (Ken and Dave) we decided to avoid doing the lower route up towards Malham Cove due to the limestone path being dangerously slippery underfoot. Treated to rolling fields, mud, large puddles of water and more mud, we passed through Airton, Hanlith and headed north to Malham.


Lunch was at the visitor centre at Malham, a bit of shelter from the wind and rain where there seemed to be lively, (smutty) conversation about someone’s lunch of a long thin sausage (dare I mention names - Michael and Howard, boys will be boys)!! A lunchtime treat of laughter, jokes and puns for some of us.


After leaving Malham, the weather turned pretty dire as we took the detoured route up the road to reach Malham Cove. Understandably there were no signs of any climbers today scaling the cove. With the driving wind and rain and the mist coming down to spoil the views, conditions underfoot were difficult. We returned via Attermire Scar which felt like a wind tunnel at times. Lost 3 people in the last couple of miles (too far ahead of the leader?) to notice that we had gone a different route back to Settle. They obviously knew a short cut and got back to the start before us.


Had a great day out (some mutterings of wishing they’d stayed at home along the way) with witty banter, innuendos, me attempting to strangle Alma with her hood (sorry), amorous Viv kissing a younger man (didn’t know somebody could blush so deeply), a bit of spooning (Noble Ken) and another praying to Mecca (attempting to clean their trousers on the grass after taking a tumble).


A few moans about the quality of the leadership (leading from the back – nothing new there then) but on the whole, not bad for an unreccied walk and I managed to stay upright throughout. A big thanks to my 2 best guys Ken and Dave for guiding me and keeping me out of trouble, very much appreciated and for the rest of the gang who turned up to make a miserable day enjoyable. It would be nice to do this walk again on a glorious summer’s day when the views and drier conditions underfoot would be most welcome.


After stripping off the waterproofs, the bedraggled few had a well-earned drink in the Talbot.


Julie Spencer


Click here for Julie's photos



Click here for Ken's photos







Another Dead End. Wednesday February 10th. 14 miles from Adlington. Leader: Paul Wadsworth.



The intrepid crew of the Victory, consisting of 27 good people and 1 ship's dog set sail as Admiral Lord Wadsworth lifted the telescope to his blind eye and uttered those famous words 'It will be wet but I see no mud!' The sun was shining and for the first time in 6 months the rain had stopped . Passing the entrance to the Anderton Centre, a number of the crew had vague recollections of good times past (can it really be 8 months since the Red Rose 100?) although some crew members developed nervous tics as they hurried by. Things started to look stormy as the swollen River Yarrow was initially crossed and and then followed through the woods to Limbrick. Dry land was reached just after crossing a rare visible portion of the Thirlmere Aquaduct and good footing was enjoyed passing Bibby's Farm and Johnson's Farm before sails were set again towards Healey Nab.


During morning break atop Healey Nab, clear blue skies and the sun ensured good views over Chorley to the Welsh mountains and Blackpool Tower in the distance, with Harrock Hill picked out nearer to home. The tranquil atmosphere was broken however when an ASBO was served on the Noble Ken by a member of the Lancashire vigilantes. Noble Ken, a visitor/refugee from the county to the east had been found guilty of repeatedly preaching evil messages about his former homeland.


Setting sail again, White Coppice was circumnavigated along the banks of the reservoirs and back round to the Railway Hotel. Sailing on, the ship passed through the mangrove swamps of Heapey and passed Little Knowley before arriving for lunch at the hamlet of Crosse Hall Fold.


Despite Noble Ken continuing to preach his evil, his words fell upon deaf ears. The wise (?) old leader of the Lancashire vigilantes showed his compassion by extending a hand of friendship and requested that the Noble Ken accompany him on a future expedition. It was explained to the Noble Ken that he would of course be subordinate to the old leader but he was gracious enough to accept the challenge.


A mutiny then occurred. Despite Admiral Lord Wadsworth's telescope and blind eye still not seeing any mud, a number of the crew, led by Tarmac Thomas, requested that further underfoot wetness be avoided. The original planned course, that Admiral Wadsworth did finally and reluctantly admit included perhaps just a little mud, was abandoned for the calm waters of the Leeds Liverpool canal that was only yards away. But at least Admiral Lord Wadsworth – now demoted to Captain, was not cast adrift in a small boat! Rapid progess was then made on the cruise to the home port where a treat was in store.


Galley Maid Alison had raided the ship's food store and prepared a veritable feast of scones, cakes and warm drinks that, ably assisted by Cabin Boy Edith, she served to the returning crew, thus saving Admiral Wadsworth from a critical review that would not have been accepted by TripAdvisor.


Names within this article may have been changed to protect the innocent. Any similarity between this account and other historic events is purely intentional.


Please see below for Admiral Wadsworth's Photos



Please see below for Hilary's Photos.