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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


Saturday, 6 July 2019

Birkett Fell - Bowland

Friday 5th July 2019 - Birkett Fell, Bowland - SD 669 480

Bowland Climber has been re-exploring the Bowland Fells recently. We have both walked over this terrain during a twenty year or more period, BC more than me, but both our memories have dimmed, and certainly for me no records kept. I recommend to anybody younger to keep records - you will value them later in life.

BC had ascended Birkett Fell some years ago - he even remembered struggling to find a couple of stones amongst the thick heather to make a mini cairn on the high point.

We started from Dunsop Bridge, reputedly the centre of Great Britain:

"Ordnance Survey have declared Dunsop Bridge as the official centre of the United Kingdom. The village phone box commemorates this fact and was unveiled by the famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes on 29th June 1992."

That sounds definitive, but just you look at Wiki:

It is much more nerdy than you would believe including heady stuff about CENTROID LOCATIONS - have fun.

A line of elegant, majestic tapering pine trees lead into the parkland of Thorneyholme Hall alongside the River Dunsop. I have never seen that species of pine before and they are impressive.

A snippet from some stuff about Thorneyholme Hall made me chuckle:

"St. Hubert is the patron saint of hunters and the Forest of Bowland was once a Royal Hunting Forest. According to legend St. Hubert’s conversion to the Catholic faith took place on a Good Friday when, while hunting a stag, he saw a vision of a cross between its antlers and heard a voice telling him to seek instruction in the Christian faith."

I think he must have been on the wacky-backy  or something stronger?

The gentle saunter alongside the pretty River Dunsop belied what was to come. After climbing on a good path away from the river we cut off, beelining for our summit. The going was steep and knee deep amongst huge grass tussocks, bilberry and heather. At the summit BC was pleased to see the two stones he had placed there a number of years ago.

Birkett Fell is unusual in having a covering of surprisingly large beech and other species twisted and gnarled into weird shapes - seen from a distance one understands why it has been referred to as the Jockey's Cap.

BC's previous visits had taken a path through a wood after our summit. The wood had been almost completely wrecked with trees broken and splintered off at varying heights and lying in random directions making it impenetrable - it reminded me of Paul Nash's war paintings - there must have been one heck of a storm to wreak that destruction.

We had difficulty in finding an alternative route involving "modification" of some wire fencing.

After exiting the wood we found a sheep with its horn stuck in a metal gate - there was no way it would ever have extricated.  I perilously climbed the gate so I could lift the sheep's rear while BC manoeuvred the horn, then the sheep was off with a bleating "thank-you." It was only then that I noticed a ladder stile right next to the gate.

Next we encountered a farmer digging a drainage ditch with a tractor from which he dismounted eager for conversation. He got my prize for "Biggest Moaner of the Year'" Everything was wrong and denigrated in an irritating whiny voice: off-comers buying local land, The Duchy Estate, Chris Packham, the decline of sheep farming, previous occupiers of his farm, and other subjects I can't remember - once he got going he was on a roll and it took us a while to get away and find a spot to munch, drink, and recover.

The rest of the walk through this  excellent countryside finished with a pleasant chat with a girl awaiting a rendezvous with a Duke of Edinburgh party. To fomish BC treated us to a welcome cuppa at Puddleducks Tea Room in Dunsop.

The unusual pine trees in the Thorneyholme Estate

Always a pleasure to see sheep dogs in action but not easy to photograph - this one was moving at great speed and just flitted across the viewfinder

The River Dunsop looking back to the village. Sand martins were nesting in the bank

Aqueduct now opened as footbridge. From here we headed off uphill

This tree was growing from the top of the fence post. We wondered what the outcome would be

Much steeper than it looks on the ascent to Birkett Fell - hard going

BC pleased to see his previously constructed cairn still intact

From the summit

"Modifying" the wire fence

A full 20 x blurry zoom back to  "Biggest Moaner of the Year'"

Giddy Bridge - just off our route


  1. I always thought Ashby de la Zouch was the most central point. Off to read that Wikipedia entry...

  2. Ruth - glad to see you keeping up to speed with my blog - you never know what you might learn nex!

  3. One of those walks which take on a greater appeal once completed, as you post defines.
    PS. Wellingtonian Pines at the entrance to Thorneyholme Hall.

  4. i was about to write 'sequoiadendron giganteum' (or in this case 'gigantea', I suppose) - on your next trip to Silicon Valley (or Yosemite, of course) the best species are to be seen in the Redwood National Park or Kings Canyon NP - a fair ride form here but worth the trip

  5. In a similar vein to the 'centre of the UK' claim, last year we visited (by chance rather than design) the source of the Danube in Donaueschingen, and noticed that a very short distance from the source, the stream entered a river. "Surely the source is the furthest point upstream on this river?" we said. We too sought an answer from Wiki, which told us there had been a long-running dispute between two towns as to which held the source of such an important river and eventually a formal ruling was made in Donaueschingen's favour. However, it is acknowledged that the hydrological source is at the head of the bigger river, so I remain bamboozled as to how they achieved their ruling.

  6. BC - I've just read your account. I did enjoy the outing - it was certainly one for the memory bank.


    gimmer - Years ago I read Steinbeck's Travels with Charley. At a late stage of life Steinbeck decided to re-aquaint himself with his USA and travelled around in a csmpervan with his dog Charley - he visited the redwood trees and his account has always stuck in my mind - the book is a little classic.


    Gayle - referring to your last sentence my guess is that money or fsvours were exchanged somewhere?