Sunday, October 28, 2007

Catch-up: Bulls, Halls & Turner Prize...

Time to catch up with last weeks walk and this weeks revisit. Last week we walked 5.6993 miles across open country from Bretherton to Bank Hall and back to Bretherton. Bretherton is just off the A59 south of Preston and north of Southport.
The day was sunny and what little wind there was, was warmish. Last time we walked in this area the wind had been bitter. "Wide skys", the best way to describe the early part of the walk, and river embankments with the constant sound of shooting from the clay-pigeon shoot near the River Lostock. At Red bridge, painted green for some reason best known to the landowners or council, we left the River Douglas and headed towards the more wooded part, and more interesting part of the walk. (The URL for this route is: We were greeted by a large dog and a useless owner as we joined the road; the owner had little or any control over the dog! He did say sorry, in a very loud voice, and repeated the apology when we 'glowered' at him.
The walk to Bank Hall, with the autumnal colours was very enjoyable. Bank Hall dates from 1608 with extensions from 1832, although there has been a building there since mediaeval times. It was used as a control centre for all troup movements in NW England during WW2. It missed out in the first BBC Restoration series but the 'Action Group' has started things moving.
You can find out more about the hall at
Those of you who know my better half, Chris, will know her feelings about cattle. Well you can imagine her comments, worries etc. when we had to walk within 5 yards of this fine beast!

She was not amused but bravely kept me between her and the Bretherton Bull!
The rest of the walk was enhanced by the thought of a short stop at the 'Corn Mill' for food, drinks and a browse among the antiques.
Yesterday Chris and I went to look at the Turner Prize entries, at the Tate Liverpool. An interesting experience. The four artists who have been shortlisted are Zarina Bhimji, Nathan Coley, Mike Nelson and Mark Wallinger. It is the first time the prize has been held outside of London, at Tate Liverpool, as a curtain-raiser for Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008. The comments made by the public are well worth reading and I wont spoil it for you by typing any here! Chris feels the film of the man dressed as a bear should win! Again I'll say nothing :-)
I did enjoy some of the current exhibits and feel that if any readers get the chance, go and take a look yourself.
Today the day started with heavy rain! However for once the weather forecast was spot on and by 10ish the sun was out. We headed for the main task of the day; collection of sloes for sloe-gin. I wont say where we go to collect sloes as we don't want others to beat us to picking them in future years. All I will say is we have started this years off and look forward to Christmas to sample last years.
Having picked the sloes we headed towards Rivington with the aim of looking at the changes made to the gardens on Rivington Pike. Apparently they have had to clear all the rhododendrons because of some disease. What a difference this has made. The 'ravine' was so much more striking as the tiers of waterfalls cascaded down the hillside. Damn camera batteries! I was unable to capture this spectacular scene as the batteries failed just when I needed them.
Chris and I couldn't get over the 'openness' of the gardens and had mixed feelings about if it was an improvement or not. The buildings and steps were, without a doubt, far more imposing than before, when they were hidden among the now removed foliage.
The URL for our walk today is:

You can read more about Rivington Pike at

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Slaidburn and Newton

'twas with a joyful heart, England were in the final of the 'Rugby Union World Cup', that Chris and I set off on our Sunday walk. The URL for this walk is
Although relatively short, 4.9773 miles, it was relatively undemanding compared to last weeks 'ups-and-downs'! There were superb views over the Bowland fells and Hodder Valley. Both Slaidburn, once the administrative centre of the Forest of Bowland, and Newton are attractive and interesting villages.

Although there were fine views of moorland, ask Chris about 'Moorcocks', most of our walk was over farmland with the company of many sheep...

The photograph shows some of the sheep between Pain Hill and Crawshaw.
As we headed towards Newton, we took a brief detour into the Quaker Burial ground.

Sadly this has been left to become very overgrown. Apparently the Quakers were persecuted during the 18th Century and so they were forced to seek out small and relatively isolated places like Newton.
We eventually reached the river Hodder, and this final stretch was delightful and relaxing (Ratty and Mole would have been at home here and Dunnow Hall looked just like the home Toad would have lived in!)
We stopped briefly before Dunnow Hall, next to Great Dunnow Wood beside a ford.

Heading towards the 15th Century Church at Slaidburn, we turned off to complete the walk beside the Hodder. Fishermen, fly-fishing, were passed and eventually we arrived back at the carpark. Ice cream was purchased and as we consumed them - Poop! Poop! - an MG drivers club arrived on what appeared to be a treasure-hunt!
All in all, a bit of a "wind-in-the-willows" day.
And did I say England were in the final of the World Cup? :-)

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Feck, Feck, Feck, Feck-off...

Father Ted lives on in Red Grouse! Chris was convinced that they were saying "Go Back, Go Back!" but I think I'm closer to their frantic alarm calls. We were walking in the Trough of Bowland, climbing 1,050 feet and walking 5.2835miles over Clougha Pike. The URl for this walk is
For the start of Autumn (Fall), the weather was fine, if anything a bit too warm. Plants and animals alike are confused! I'm sure many of you wont believe it but gorse was coming into flower. Fungi, in the form of ink-caps, reminded us that Autumn is upon us...

...and huge clumps of bright green moss reminded us of all the rain we had had this "summer".

The walk was rewarding with fine views on what was a hazy day. The ground was rough and the 1000 plus foot climb was a little steep at times. The opening stage of the walk took us across a little aqueduct called Ottergear Bridge, and then swung around climbing a little before dropping into a small, sharp-cut valley. The first of a number of channels, some of which cut through the ridge of Clougha.

It was then up onto moorland. Wet patches, marked by rushes, and heather and bilberry the dominant vegetation. Like it or not, these moors are managed because of grouse shooting. It is part of the ecology of these moors. On the way up, a wind farm could be seen over the valley.

We met two men on the way up who had lost their keys and were retracing their steps to try and find them! Thank goodness for pockets with zips! I don't think they had much chance of finding them. We eventually reached the rocky crest of the ridge; after several pauses to take in the view (read catch our breath). Although we were looking forward to "the finest views in the Bowland Fells, possibly in the whole of Lancashire", we had to make do with "quite rewarding views" as the hazy day restricted our view to Lancaster and no further.

The final stretch took us downpast a large cairn, over a "rock-scramble", past "wrinkled rocks" and into Windy Clough. The path through the woods, close to a stream was very nice and the shade welcome. Finally it was through gorse, over duckboards and back to the carpark.

The walk had taken much longer than we expected but I think that was due, in the main, to the 1000 feet plus climb. A quick detour on the way home involved a visit to Bailrigg House to show Chris where I now worked, a visit to the garage for fuel and a stop at the Plough, in Galgate, for food and liquid refreshments. A good day all round and an area I will visit again.

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