For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009

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Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Claughton Bricks and Windmills

 Tuesday 15th September 2020. Circular from Claughton - 7.5 miles

In1968. I was working in Leeds. I had a pleasant excursion to have papers signed by our customer Claughton Manor Brick Company at Claughton in the River Lune valley.

I have passed through there many times since and pleasant memories recur. The financial director's name, Mr. Stirzacker, has remained with me; strange how odd trivialities remain in the mind when more significant ones are forgotten. 

The company has made bricks since 1898. Current production runs at around fifty million bricks per year. Clay is excavated from the moorland edge of the Bowland Hills high above the factory and is transported by a mile long aerial ropeway carrying buckets of the material. It all looks somewhat antiquated, but recently their license for extraction was given another eighteen years, and they have a policy of progressive restoration as they work through the available resource.

Our walk followed a steep bridleway to the east of the aerial buckets. The ascent was steeper than we expected and prolonged and combined with hot sunshine it was quite a huff-and-puff.We had passed by the entrance to Moorcock Hall, the residence of the Oystons (less said.)

At the top we crossed under the buckets and by devious means managed to have a limited view of the clay pit and ancillary buildings.

Further on a restored farm house had a view right across the Lune valley with the Lake District hills beyond and the bonus at this elevation of seeing the whole of Morecambe Bay providing a carpet in front of those hills. Here the owner was talking to a farmer type on a quad bike - we had a few words, but further on the quad bike guy stopped and chatted to us. He was the kennel manager for the local hunt. He told us they were continuing the traditions but with the substitution of an aniseed trail. When we asked about how the trail was laid his answer was akin to some inexperienced politician trying to answer awkward questions from Andrew Neil.

We decided on a quick there and back through the wind farm of Caton Moor to visit the trig point. As we passed the closest windmill a couple of hundred yards away I looked up and said to BC "what's that on the blade, a crashed seagull?" My sense of scale was not working properly - we looked closer. Wow! It was a man!

Some work was afoot and there had obviously been an abseil from the top. Such a rare sight demanded much effort holding still my camera on a long zoom.

After this longish unscheduled delay we pressed on to what one might say was the aunti-climax of the trig. As we returned there were now two guys up there and they waived to us. We were tempted to shout out and ask them what was the grade.

A long hot descent on tarmac took us back down to Brookhouse  and then a pleasant stroll up what is perhaps the best section of the river Lune. It had all been a bit overpowering in this unexpected mini heatwave but a most worthwhile and characterful walk.

Suggest click first photo to enlarge for slideshow

Just after leaving the road. This was MUCH steeper than it looks here


They are not short of a bit of hardcore here

A tricky clandestine view against the sun into the clay excavations

BC gets a shot from the restored farmhouse across to the Lakeland hills



Caton Moor summit. Many paths lead off not shown on the OS map


River Lune at its best

Start/finish at Claughton - clockwise



Friday, 11 September 2020

Low Bentham and River Wenning

Wednesday 9th September 2020 - From Low Bentham - 7.5 miles. 

Both BC and I still find ourselves surprised to find this large territory on the northern fringes of Bowland incorporating the Rivers Wenning and Hindburn largely unexplored by either of us. Here we are again with Ingleborough and its neighbours providing a massive and theatrical backdrop to the north throughout the whole of this walk.

Looking across at that panorama I was constantly reminded of a massive outing back in 2004 covering much of that ground and ending in my request for rescue - it's worth a read at the post I wrote a few years after culling from notes I had made pre-blogging during that trig point campaign - it is not long and worth a read - "Don't Forget your Headtorch" :

http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2016/03/dont-forget-your-head-torch.html

Lower Bentham has a good free car park and we were off just before ten. The town is attractive but sadly showing closed down shops, but still with a pleasant atmosphere.

After crossing the Wenning we were alerted by the roaring sound of forceful water. The weirs just upstream were being bombarded after recent heavy rain - see my little video below.



Pleasant and varied walking although a bit squelchy took us to The Fourstone of Fourstones. BC had often visited here with his children in years gone by and more recently for its bouldering attributes. This huge lump of granite has many short bouldering problems and BC was like an odds on favourite greyhound out of the trap, firstly to reminisce, and then unable to resist, to have a go. I wandered round to the foot of steps cut out on the other side - here I found perhaps my millionth discarded Lucozade bottle. BC emerged on the summit. After watching him descend the steps, not too easily, I decided to stay put at the bottom rather than risk a likely fiasco. We chatted with a motor cycling couple and the chap as a climber himself had to entertain us with a tricky boulder problem not made any easier with his unsuitable motorcycling boots.

We trogged of again now facing full on that vast view of the the Three Peaks and the other hills recalling our many individual wanderings there over the years.

Our return followed the River Wenning again - all had been enjoyment with the bonus of finding such splendid new territory not far from home and with plenty more possibilities there still to come.

Definitely worth clicking photos after reading captions to see enlargements

Closed shops in Lower Bentham

Crossing the Wenning

Strangely "gone-over" Rosebay Willow Herb making an attractive colourful display

BC surveys the raging torrent

The J Marshall massive caravan site across the river. We walked back through this superbly appointed and well kept site on our return. Here you can probably only see a tenth of its extent


Zoom back to Lower Bentham

Distant Three Peaks territory. It looked a lot closer in real life

We were buzzed several time by a pair of these monsters during the day

Embedded in a garden wall where public footpath passed. For the readable script Google's Latin translator gives : "Lo, to kill, tooth..." then next two word unreadable on stone. Your offer to enlighten me will be gratefully received


BC accelerating toward the Fourstone

Yet another.Who are these Lucozade bottle discarders? We have been here before but I still wonder if there are more of these than any other brand of frequent litter because Lucozade sells statistically more units, or is it something about the commodity and its purchasers themselves - one of life's great mysteries? 

BC having conquered the hard way now faces the intimidating descent of the steps. I am proud that my advanced years and gained wisdom held me back from  entertaining onlookers with my ability to turn something apparently benign into an epic




A serious engineering attempt to preserve the road. We wondered if they had made any provision for their effort's being undermined






Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Littledale with BC

Monday 31st. August 2020 - Littledale, Lancs. 7. 5 miles 

There is a large lay-by on the single track road near Baines Crag. This was a bank holiday so we met at 9:30. There was one other car and another rolled up before we set off. Surprisingly there were only twelve in total when we returned six hours later.

I have had several outings in Littledale before. The terrain is similar to our recent walk in the Hindburn valley with heavily wooded, steep sided valleys and cropped turf and old tracks above,  giving extensive views. Looking down at the wooded valleys with their offshoots gives an air of mystery and secretiveness and there is a real feeling of exploration and possible tempting alternatives for other days.

We passed the abandoned church in Littledale, deconsecrated, stripped out and used as a barn for the nearby Littledale Hall estate.

From the Internet I gleaned that Littledale Hall was built in 1849 for Revd. John Dodson. He had been vicar of Cockerham but seceded from the Established Church because of the Gorham Judgement and retired with his family to Littledale.

Further research informed me that the Gorham Judgement arose from a bishop refusing to appoint a vicar in 1850 who argued that baptism was not "sacramentally effective" and that to "accept Jesus" required an adult decision. That apparently clashed with The Thirty Nine Articles of the Anglican High Church.

I've always thought that dunking babies, thereby having them traumatised and screaming, was not a kind thing to do, but then I would never have been a vicar having to make a decision on that matter of principle, but I reckon one should have the choice whether to "accept Jesus" or not rather than having it forced upon one at birth. The church hierarchy seem to thrive on creating these kinds of arguments and dissensions.

Littledale Hall is now a residential rehab centre for people with drug problems. There is a website giving details but strangely there is nothing about the principals who run this establishment - no names or company details at all. I presume this is a private enterprise that receives candidates mainly sent by and paid for by local authorities?

Beyond the hall Ordnance Survey said we were still on the public footpath but we were battling through waist high bracken until we discovered a substantial farm track a little higher up.

We walked as far as we could to get a view of the upper section of Littledale and were able to see where we had crossed higher up when we were walking the Lancashire Witches Walk in 2016. We then backtracked to pass through the buildings of Littledale Hall and eventually climbed up onto the edge of the Clougha Pike moorland. For me the track through the heather just coming into bloom was the highlight of this walk. I had not been on that part before and the views across to Black Coombe, Caw and the Old Man of Coniston and the rest of the Lakes hills was unusual and dramatic bcause we had enough height to be able to see these hills with the whole expanse of Morecambe Bay stretching out below them. Magic.

We had speculated about being able to match the appeal of our recent walk in the Hindburn valley and we reckoned that they both deserved equal merit.


Baines Crag and my parked car. A bit of Morcambe Bay in the background

Zoom to submarine construction buildings at Barrow 23 miles away

"C " number plate - 1965

At least it's still got some tread left on the tyres

Wooded valleys. Clougha Pike moorland - heather just coming into bloom


In Crossgill

We sat on the wall until this procession had passed by. They were in no hurry and neither were we
Littledale abandoned church

Littledale Hall

BC battling through the bracken. He turns back questioningly.
We found a proper farm track about twenty yards up the hill, but OS said we were on the public footpath here



We walked just beyond the far red line to get a view of upper Littledale then backtracked to pick up the return route - red line going right

Onto the moorland track

Looking back at our route. Littledale Hall the other side of the cleft top centre


Baines Crag - BC had of course climbed there but rough boulder terrain at the foot of the crags was off-putting 



N.b. - The underlining on the captions is happening randomly in New Blogger and whatever I  do I can't remove it. Googling tells me others are having the same problem.




Saturday, 29 August 2020

The First Night of the Proms.

Yesterday morning I posted my application for a TV licence with the usual feelings of reluctance when parting with money, and at £157 that is a meaningful amount for me. But, there are from time to time programmes on BBC that make that worthwhile, so the disinclination to savage my bank balance was slightly softened.

Last night we had the first of the new "live" performances of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

A first time performance for a British composer left me unmoved - it was short and seemed to go nowhere except that it was pleasantly haunting in places. Novelty was introduced by a few notes on a mouth-organ, and very strangely somebody holding aloft in wavering hands a sort of musical box about the size of  a bag of sugar and twiddling a handle to allow music on a punch tape to scroll through and play some tinkling notes which didn't seem to have any connection with the rest of the piece.

Aaron Copland's Quiet City followed. A wonderfully evocative piece featuring immaculate trumpet playing. The performance was enhanced by cleverly edited camera work depicting empty city street scenes which was a brave thing to do snd would have been a disaster if not well handled.

The main event was Beethoven's Eroica symphony. The Finnish conductor, Sakari Oramo was at the helm. He was a delight to watch with facial expressions expressing his enjoyment, delight, and deep feelings. The orchestra was socially distanced so he seemed to be able to pinpoint individuals with a different kind of precision.

But, the most striking feature for me was the demeanour, without exception of all the members of the orchestra. They were all, again I say without exception, glum, tight lipped and otherwise expressionless. I thought they must have just arrived from a meeting where they had miserably failed to negotiate a pay rise.

For me any Beethoven is delight. I have no technical musical knowledge to make a meaningful assessment of this particular performance except to say that I did enjoy the music

This was all a bit strange held in the eerily empty Royal Albert Hall with brief commentary from Stephen Fry and Katie Derham which only served to give factual background to the selections on top of fairly meaningless adulatory observations. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Lowgill and River Hindburn

Monday 24th August 2020. Lowgill and River Hindburn. 6.5 miles. 

This was my first walk with BC since the original lockdown.

BC has walked more long distance paths in the UK and abroad than anybody else I know of. I was surprised, amused, and a bit proud when I suggested this walk to BC when he told me had not walked here before.

This is quiet countryside. The River Hindburn runs through in a mostly wooded cleft with tributaries forming deepish wooded side valleys displaying a wide landscape of seriously undulating countryside. Our walk, according to BC's altimeter thingy involved over 1000 feet of ascent.

From the road at Lowgill convoluted footpaths took us to Tatham Church of the Good Shepherd. Although there has been a church here since 1577 the present one only dates from 1888 but its architecture is somewhat out of the ordinary; the door was locked so no inside visit.  Unfortunately the church is not dedicated to some obscure saint with an interesting history, but Wiki reveals The Good Shepherd as a film about the CIA directed by Robert de Niro and also a novel by C.S. Forester.

A variety of paths followed switchback fields, steep descents into woods, several wooden bridges, entrancing river and streams and an ever changing scenery of the best of English countryside on a perfect summer's day.

We met a deaf and dumb elderly gent with a dog coming towards us. He was a jolly sort and asked us to direct him  - he was using a dreadful little black and white sketch map that looked as though it had been torn from the pages of Country Walking. Following the complicated footpaths had been a challenge to us armed with Ordnance Survey and GPS. Our signing and the like seemed to achieve some success and he was very happily on his way. Further on a mother and young boy with a collie sheep dog were incoming, The dog appeared aggressive but as we chatted I had him tamed and enjoying a tickle behind the ears and then the throwing of a stick.

At Bottom Head Farm, our furthest south, we chatted at length with the friendly farmer on a variety of subjects including his summing up of his ability or otherwise to understand the various auctioneers at livestock markets that he has visited - "you can't tell which ten they are in, thirty or forty..."

We sat on the edge of a fast flowing stream for a late bite and coffee. The water in the streams is a rich brown ale colour but still crystal clear running and tumbling and foaming providing a tonic to the soul.

We eventually came back to tarmac and at Ivah Farm a lady and dog appeared  over the wall of the farm and they turned out to be the same we had met earlier. As we chatted again who should come down the road from the other direction but the cheery deaf and dumb guy. We were not sure who was lapping who but it was all a pleasant and happy second encounter for all.

Another half kilometre and we were looking at a proud polished granite war memorial in Lowgill village. Considering its size and impressiveness, this was a proportionally large tribute to just the few names of the fallen in that area from both wars.

Some of the paths on this walk were well defined and obviously walked and many others just the opposite but it is a most attractive and unspoilt area - quite a discovery at less thanan hour's drive from home.


Worth clicking photos to enlarge

Parked outside the closed school at Lowgill, ready for the off

This and below
I don't think this old Austin car engine will be running again any time soon


The start of one of several steep descents to magic streams and footbridges

A new breed of substantial cast footpath signs I have not seen before - we only saw one more much further on

Tatham Church of the Good Shepherd. No sign of Robert de Niro



Yet another view of Ingleborough but I couldn't resist this one



Bottom Head Farm nestling below the moorland. That was our furthest south. Pity the heather is not yet blooming on those wild moors. Views from around here were extensive and impressive in all directions on this glorious day

Lowgill war memorial