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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


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


  1. An interesting walk, and glad you bagged another trig point. That man working on the wind turbine... wow! What a head for heights he must have. Great photo, Conrad.

  2. Nice photos Conrad 👍
    I see those workers on the wind turbine have motorised winches - I guess as old-time climbers you and BC took a pretty dim view of that! 😄
    And that's the first time we've seen BC's face!

  3. Your zoom worked well.
    I think the Oyston's place was Claughton Hall.
    Thanks for the research about the brick factory.

  4. Just realised you didn't post a picture of Ingleborough.
    I've spent a couple of hours looking for my camera used on Tuesday. Getting a little frustated, I need to concentrate on things at hand. It may be awhile before I post up this excellent walk.

  5. Ruth -We wondered what would happen if the windmill started turning - Buster Keaton rides again!


    Paul - Ex-climber or not, you wouldn't have got me up there for anything. Many is the time I would have welcomed a motorised winch. I was pleased with the zooms because my camera had somehow gone onto burst mode all of its own accord and would not focus in the viewfinder on zoom and I was relieved and surprised when they came out ok.


    BC - Thanks for the correction - I think I was playing with the dog when that chap was telling us about it and only heard half the conversation. Ingleborough has had more than its share of my camera recently.

    If I can't find something sometimes just sitting down and concentrating and trying to follow logic produces results rather than randomly searching, but I sympathise and hope it turns upp.

  6. I expect your wind turbine man was safer than most of us were during abseils relying on spikes of rock or even cams for anchors. Superb shot.

  7. Afoot -I went to Spain with a friend who had an apartment out there and we climbed with some of his Spanish climbing friends. We did a huge multi-pitch thing on, I think The Puig Campana. The climbing was not hard but we had three desperate abseils to get off. One of the Spanish guys was a climbing guide. On the second abseil there was a bit of tat round a chockstone to ab from. He had a look at it and went to a lot of trouble untying it with some difficulty then re-threading it double. I was impressed and thankful. I was not frightened of abseiling per se but I have to say those abseils in particular were pretty scary.

  8. Sir Hugh - I would have replaced the tat with my own sling and sacrificed it. On each of my three abseils off the In Pinn I used my own screw gate karabiners leaving them in place, rather than use the in situ one. OTT, I know. Like you I was never frightened of abseiling but I always regarded it as the most dangerous part of climbing. I’ve never had to do really scary abseils like the one you describe.

  9. I've had many scary abseils.
    Any down a sea cliff knowing you have to climb out again.
    Multiple abseils down Spanish cliffs but safe as you always have a bolted point, if you can find it.
    Abseils in the dark down 1000ft routes in Jordan. Used up lots of rope backing up the threads at each point.
    Coming off the Monkey Face at Smith Rocks, Oregon. Look it up.
    Not that many actually retreating from routes using boot laces.
    Lucky to be alive really.

  10. afoot and BC - I think it was Simon Yates or his mate I read about doing a siege tactics face in S. America with some junior-hards - up and down each day. They were using thin ropes and they were getting plenty of use. In the tent the night before the final assault he gave it all some thought and came to the conclusion that it was not worth the risk on those frayed ropes and he packed up and went home leaving then to it.

  11. We walked that very route in 2016. Excellent day out.

    I remember that there were thousands of Pheasants all over the place.
    I wish they would put a plug socket or a USB socket on those wind turbines so that passers bye can charge devices if in difficulty.

  12. Don't say "less said" about the Oystons. They're fascinating and things don't have to be good to be fascinating.

  13. RR - What do you want me to do? Launch into another 300 words on that subject? Everybody has at least some knowledge of the dubious background and therefore I didn't think it necessary to add some unsatisfactory brief description of that history.

  14. That's not the only option. But never mind.

  15. RR - The options are doubtless infinite. Might I have chosen one which you approved of?

  16. There are many lines of work that I could not possibly have considered entering, and I think I can safely say that Wind Turbine Engineer is right up there amongst them.

    If I stand on a bridge to take a photo, I'm always (completely irrationally) convinced I'm going to drop my phone; hanging off a wind turbine blade would not be a good place to be all fingers and thumbs with some nuts and bolts, would it?

  17. Gayle - I have similar feelings on tall structures. I won't say I was not scared when rock climbing but that was different knowing you had the protection of the rope but I don't think you would get me up on one of those turbines these days.