Sunday, September 30, 2007

Barrow Bridge-Walker Fold-Crooked Edge Hill

The URL for this route is:; The guide, from Walkers world ID: 1197) informed us that this was a 6.2 mile walk. Both Chris and I felt that it didn't seem that far. When I plotted the walk, as you can see, the walk was only 5.3024 miles.
We started in the car park at Barrow Bridge. I won't bore you with the details of how we arrived here, suffice it to say "map reading"! The sign in the carpark, as you can see in the photograph below, greeted us with the "famous 63 steps" we had to climb at the very start of the walk.

The 18th Century cottages along the river, with their access bridges to well-kept gardens, were idyllic.

Complete with Narnia lamp-posts Ben! Initially the walk explored the varied characteristics of this West Pennine valley; deciduous woodland, complete with campers. Chris was sure they shouldn't have such a big fire in the woods. The babbling river, the 63 steps after which there were pasture and small-holdings.
We soon arrived at the hamlet of Walker Fold with a number of old cottages and farm buildings, sympathetically renovated or converted for habitation.

Winter Hill mast was ever-present; you can see it on the right of the picture above. Beyond here the higher parts of the river are lined by coniferous woodland. The path criss-crosses the stream emerging on a track that led us up towards Holden's Farm.
Beyond the farm we entered open moorland (Wilders Moor); here we headed to the cairns at the top of Crooked Edge Hill. The guide tells us that the cairns are of relatively recent construction by are clearly a local landmark.

I had to take a picture of the tower of Rivington Pike and the hill Bec managed to tumble down! Chris is pointing it out, just for Bec!

The promised "dramatic views" were not forthcoming as it was hazy! The return route involved crossing and re-crossing the ascent, forming a series of "figures of eight" and avoiding retracing steps. Walking back, parallel to Burnt Edge, Barrow Bridge Chimney could be seen in the distance; an aid to the required direction.
The final descent involved the 71 newly-constructed steps back to the river. We are very lucky to be so close to such beautiful areas. A walk that isn't strenuous and provides a taste of river, fells, great views, industrial archaeology, nature and woodlands.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its... to Paston we go! On Friday I was on annual leave and Chris and I were responding to a call for help!
Our Property Magnet daughter needed to 'sort out' the Paston property garden for a new tenant.
Chris only had a half day leave as she had to attend a meeting in Chester. So it was decided that I would drive her to the meeting, have a wander around Chester and then we would head off to Peterborough.

I enjoyed my walk around the traffic free heart of Chester city centre; the historic facades of the black and white buildings which dominate the city centre include "Chester's Rows". Here 21st century stores thrive in a medieval setting. The city is compact enough to walk around with ease, and the unique two tiered rows made my experience even more enjoyable especially when it started to rain.

The Clock, over one of the gates, is well worth a visit and it reminded me of previous walks Chris have done in Chester. It is situated near the 5 Star Chester Grosvenor and Spa Hotel.
Rain made me enter the Grosvenor  Museum a classic 19th century building. A group of children from a local Junior School were looking at a most impressive collection of Roman tombstones; their constant questions and enthusiasm was 'wonderful'. A bit later another group of youngsters arrived, dressed in 'home-made' roman armour; what a pity their teacher was so determined to be the centre of attention. A loud, pompous and rude person who had very little interest in the childrens questions or other museum users feelings. I decided to leave before I was tempted to say something I would regret. I headed back to the carpark, to wait for Chris, making a short detour to look at the 'single-span' bridge over the river; it had been mentioned on the video I had watched in the Museum.

Chris arrived and it was off to Peterborough. The journey was interupted briefly when I had to pull into a lay-by on the A51, to take this picture of a straw sculpture...

You must admit it is impressive! Snugbury's, I discovered later, are icecream makers who are also "renowned for their straw sculptures". As you can see this years sculpture is of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell bank. It celebrates 50 years of the dawn of the space age and the telescope's construction. It is also the tenth anniversary of the straw structures; the dish weighs in at over 6 tonnes and has a 32 foot diameter. You can find out more at
The rest of the journey was uneventful, stopping briefly for refreshments, we eventualy arrived at Mandy and Daves; I resist the temptation to mention Chris was looking for the road Mandy used to live in rather than the one she does live in! Both Mandy and Dave were well and over a few drinks and food we caught up with news, travels, plans, dreams etc.
Chris and I slept on a matress downstairs and after a reasonably early breakfast we headed towards Paston and the jungle, sorry garden, we had been asked to tame, sorry make-over!

As you can see from the photograph, jungle was a more appropriate word to use! I wont dwell on detail but Mandy, Chris, Dave and I got 'stuck-in' and after 6 visits to the local tip, blisters, scratched, stung hands and arms etc., we overcame the challenges we had faced and transformed the jungle...

The challenge now is to make sure that it doesn't return to the wild!
We even managed to get back in time to watch England win in the World Cup. Could things get any better? They could indeed! Cobra beer and a curry in the local Indian Restaurant! Mmmmm very nice indeed. A quick walk in the dark, past a local landmark (a man-made hill), and it was back home; none of us needed any rocking, as Chris's Mum would have said.
Today Mandy and Dave went to purchase plants for their garden and the garden was weeded, plants set and when everything was done and dusted Chris and I set off for home.
Watch this space to see if we are called upon a fourth time to tame the wild!

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Haslingden Grane

Not a planned walk this week; we had planned to continue the Ribble Way but, trying to be green, we had only taken one car! Taxi cabs can not, for love nor money be hired on a Sunday in Settle! So as the walk was 12 miles and we had no way of getting back to our car we decided to head for home.
Rather than waste a day I suggested we went to a National Trust house and that I thought the guide book was in the tray under the passenger seat. It wasn't!.

However there was the "50 Walks in Lancashire and Cheshire" book. Chris looked through and I suppose it isn't surprising we had walked many of them.

The "Deserted Valley of Haslingden Grane", although short (just over 3 miles), sounded intriguing. The history of the valley is worth reading and the walk well worth  the detour.

Starting at Clough Head Information Centre, we were entertained by a group of adults and children holding an outdoor religious service, (very happy and quite clappy!), as we put on our walking gear. One animated song remined Chris of "Hand, shoulders, Knees and toes, knees and toes", and she suggested she should go over and give them a chorus...

In the carpark was a "random deer" sculpture/weaving; I think it was to signify the fact that this had been a deer park prior to the 16th century. We headed off, left of the information centre, through a small plantation and climbed steeply up Clough Head; I could tell we hadn't walked for a few weeks! We joined the Rossendale Way, half-way up the slope and, I'm pleased to say, remained for some time on a fairly level path.

The walk itself can be seen at The route took us past many ruins; evidence of the once populated valley (over 1000 people at one time). Reading the history of the valley puts into perspective the hardships of the population of this area. Relying on poor farm land, handloom weaving and distilling of illicit whisky (I'm impressed by the latter) the advent of larger mills, and the flooding of their best land (when the reservoir was built), together with falls in commodity prices, explaind the abandoned valley and ruins.

I've tried to capture some of the beauty and sadness of this valley by using autostitch. Six images have been stiched together to provide a 180 degree image including reservoir, moorland, woodland and plantations, as well as ruins .

Oh, I nearly forgot, it also includes Chris who took a short break while I took the photographs.
On reflection, the lack of wildlife seen on the walk also indicated the lack of man's influence; apart from a few cows and an odd sheep or two, the walk was quite uneventful. It was however noticeable that a large number of fungi were appearing, showing the beginnings of Autumn (Fall for our American friends).
In general a short but varied walk, well worth a visit.
P.S. The food at the Information Centre was good as well.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Out of this World: the art of Josh Kirby

Today the weather was unpleasant to say the least. We decided that it was an opportunity to visit Josh Kirby's Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

We visited the tip on the way to Liverpool, to recycle cardboard; we are good! Parking next to the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel, we walked up William Brown Street to the Gallery.

Here, and I quote from the Walker Gallery's website, we "explored a colourful world teeming with other-worldly characters, creatures, fantasy cities and landscapes in 'Out of this World: the art of Josh Kirby' - the first major retrospective of the Liverpool-born artist."

The exhibition covered Kirby's artistic career from his early days as a freelance artist to his famous cover illustrations for Terry Pratchett's Discworld and Eric/Faust fantasy books.

Ben will be impressed that Kirby’s work includes famous film posters such as Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and Monty Python's Life of Brian. I'm pleased that I didn't miss this unique opportunity to view Kirby's intricate paintings, un-cropped and in their original format. Chris liked the fact that preliminary sketches were included showing progression. I'll include some background for those of you who are interested...

Josh Kirby (1928-2001)

Born Ronald William Kirby in Liverpool’s Waterloo district, he studied at Liverpool City School of Art from 1943 until 1948. Settling in London in around 1951, he worked as an artist in film and commercial advertising. Kirby progressed to painting book covers, coming to specialise in science fiction and fantasy.

From 1965 until his death Kirby lived in an old Norfolk rectory, painting in a cramped pantry space no bigger than a cupboard. There he created much of his best known work. His heroes and heroines are archetypal fantasy figures; his scenes infused with ribald humour. Fantasy art is often associated with airbrushing but Kirby’s works were meticulously hand-painted, usually in gouaches or oils, over a period of four to eight weeks.

You can still visit the Exhibition until the 30th September 2007; if you can't do that then take a look at some of the images on the Walker Website at

An unexpected bonus was the "Unnatural selection: jewellery, objects and sculpture by Peter Chang"; Well worth a look while you are there but, in my opinion, not very practical jewellery.

More details of this exhibition can be found at and visited up until the 30th September as well!

For 2008 National Museums Liverpool has commissioned celebrated artist Ben Johnson to create an iconic cityscape of Liverpool, the most ambitious of his distinguished panoramas to date.

His cityscapes are world-renowned. The detail, the precision, the staggering scale of the work involved - everything about these paintings is astonishing. Do visit the flickr slide show at

Walking back through town we returned to the car and I took a picture of the statues at the mouth of the tunnel.

The tunnel was opened on July 18, 1934 by King George V and Queen Mary, in honour of whom the tunnel is named and whom the statues depict. 200,000 people watched the opening from the Old Haymarket entrance, in Liverpool.

Construction of the Road Tunnel started in 1925 to a design by consulting engineer Sir Basil Mott. Mott supervised the construction in association with John Brodie, who, as City Engineer of Liverpool, had co-ordinated the feasibility studies made by consultant Engineers Mott, Hay and Anderson. In 1928 the two pilot tunnels met to within less than an inch (25 mm).

The tunnel entrances, toll booths and ventilation building exteriors were designed by architect Herbert James Rowse, who is frequently but incorrectly credited with the whole civil engineering project. It cost £8,000,000 to build, and 1,200,000 tons of rock, gravel and clay were excavated, with some of this rubble being used to build Otterspool Promenade.

1,700 men worked in the tunnel of whom 17 were killed during work.

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