GARSTANG & CALDER VALE CIRCULAR

 


Summary

Date - 30th August 2012 Distance - 7.5 miles
Ascent -
530ft
Map - OL41 Start point - Main car park, Garstang (SD 493454)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Grizzly and Tetley stared mournfully out of the window, looking at the lowering skies. "Looks like there is another heavy shower on the way", remarked Tetley. And, as if on cue seconds later the rain was lashing against the window.

"Dad had intimated that we may be walking tomorrow, but the weather is going to have to improve", replied Grizzly.

Just then Allen wandered in with the iPad in paw, and hearing his pals comment, set to looking at the Met Office app. "Umm", he mused. "It's definitely going to rain heavily tonight, but the prospects for tomorrow are pretty good, particularly the further south in our region."

Grizzly's face brightened, and he said, "we had better get our thinking caps on then to decide where to go."

"Tea helps to get my brain into gear", replied Allen.

"Here comes Shaun and Little Eric, with the flasks", called out Tetley, with relief in his voice.

"Ooh good", exclaimed Allen, dashing off the get the mugs.

"Get some plates too", called out Grizzly, "I've made some cherry & ginger scones."

"Scrumptious", cried Shaun. "They are my favourite."

So, all settled with steaming mugs and munching happily away at the delicious scones, we set to thinking.

Little Eric remarked, "there are lots and lots of walks in the folders on the shelf, many that Dad did long before any of us were adopted, so maybe we can pick one of those."

"Good idea", said Shaun lifting the binder down with Tetley's help.

"Bearing in mind it is better weather south, let's see if there is a suitable one in Lancashire. A complete change from the Lakes and Yorkshire, and an area new to us all", suggested Allen.

We gathered round and scanned the index pages, Grizzly suddenly pointing, and saying, "how about this one from Garstang, up into Calder Vale."

We read it through and agreed that it seemed to be a likely candidate. "Dad did it in 1994, so it will definitely be new ground for us", said Shaun.

Tetley let out a laugh, "it says here that there are free car parks. I bet that has changed now."

"There is a comment by Dad about it being a very muddy walk. That will surely be the case tomorrow after the monsoon summer we have had", laughed Little Eric.

Right", said Allen, draining his mug and grabbing the walk sheet, "I'll take this to Dad and see what he thinks about our suggestion."

Very soon he was back, a broad smile on his face. "It's on. Dad says he will enjoy doing this again."

Shaun had poured Allen a fresh mug of tea, knowing what a tea belly he is. "Thanks pal, said Allen, accepting the mug gratefully.

 

The Walk

Garstang is a bustling Fair Trade market town situated between Lancaster and Preston and by passed by the main A6 road. It was an easy drive for Dad, and leaving the A6 we drove down past the houses, that have been built over the years, as the place has expanded, to reach the core of the town and the busy shopping street. Just before we turned into the car park, where there were few places left, showing how popular the town is and too, it was market day.

Checking the guide sheet, Shaun said, "it suggests walking through main street, but to me it would seem better to go out of the back of the car park and along by the river".

"OK", Dad replied shouldering the rucksack and striding off.

At the bottom of the car park we turned right, the River Wyre rushing beside the path.

Our aim was to get to the road bridge over the river, a portion of which can be see in the centre of the picture.

"Once over the bridge we take the lane immediately left that passed the school", instructed Shaun.

There were some large houses along here too, and as we got past these Little Eric called out, "what's that on the mound to the left."

"The remains of Greenhalgh Castle", replied Shaun, who had consulted the map."

"It is all fenced off, so we can't go and have a look, but there is an information board by that gate", called out Tetley.

"Let's go and see what we can learn", said Allen excitedly.

It told us that the castle was built in 1490, by Thomas Stanley, 1st Earl of Derby, having been given the land by King Henry VII for his help in defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field. It was a plain building probably three stories high. The walls were 16 yards apart on one side and fourteen on the other, with a square tower on each corner thought to be about sixty feet high and with walls five and a half feet thick. There was only one entrance and it was probably surrounded by a dry moat.

The castle was built to be impregnable and in its 150 years it was never captured despite a one and quarter year long siege during the Civil War, when efforts were made to undermine the walls. It was the death of the Governor, Nicholas Anderton, which led the Garrison to surrender on the condition that everyone was given safe passage and no reprisals were to be taken. Following this, Oliver Cromwell gave orders for the Castle to be dismantled and the wood and lead sold. Soon afterwards much of the stone was taken and used in nearby farm buildings. The ruins that stand today are part of the Western tower.

"Well that's some more history we have learnt", said Grizzly. "Every day's a school day."

At the end of the lane the farm is now a group of dwellings. The walk was published about 25 years ago so it was not surprising that things had changed.

"The instructions are not really accurate with the building changes, but I reckon we should take that waymarked narrow path on the right" said Shaun.

This led between hedges then shortly came to stile, over which we entered a large field, which was wet and muddy like all the walk, just as Dad had commented when he did this in 1994. The day itself was dry apart from a little drizzle at one point and rather sunless. Breezy and a bit cool but nevertheless Dad was fine walking in shorts and t-shirt.

"We need to go on ahead with the fence on our right", said Shaun.

Dad was not so sure, and instead headed left across the field, but soon realised that Shaun had been right. "Sorry Lads, I will never learn!"

Beyond we crossed another field then a footbridge and stile, on to more wet pasture, to reach a gate, where it was left to cross the bridge over the railway - the West Coast Main Line.

"Why is the stone work different on the bridge than the approach walls?", asked Little Eric, who is very inquisitive.

"Well Lad", said Dad, "when the bridges were first built in the Victorian era, they were in an arched shape. However when the line was electrified, this shape did not allow sufficient clearance of the overhead wires, so they all had to be rebuilt in a squared shape."

"Thanks Dad", he replied. "It really is a school day for us."

Immediately beyond was another bridge, crossing the M6 motorway.

This brought us to Bailton's Farm, where the path is now diverted to the left of the buildings, to then join its access track, which we walked along to the road.

"We take the stile opposite, and then walk to the right corner of the field by Janet's Hill Wood", instructed Shaun.

The wood contains a delightfully pretty pool, that was still, so provided lovely reflections. "How beautiful", said Allen.

"We now climb the stile on the right, then on as directed by the side of the wood", said Shaun.

Beyond the path was waymarked and led to the access track to Lucas's Farm. In the last field, was this young black calf.

Rather perplexed Shaun said, "the paths seem to be different to the map, Dad.

"Well it is a rather old map, so perhaps things have changed. I reckon if we go right, we will come to the access track to Lower House Farm, and this will take us to the road", he replied.

Then it was left along the road to the buildings of Sullom Side, going right on its drive, and then through the gate ahead, following the waymarked path/track. Distantly we could see the Bleasdale Fells, purple under their coat of heather.

Beyond we went through gate ahead, right and down to and into the woods, through which the walk was very pleasant.

"At the junction, we keep ahead past the cottages, then further on go along the path between the river and pond", called out Shaun.

On reaching this path, Allen said, "we can't go this way, as it says it is for residents only."

"Well there are none about as far as I can see, so we will go this way, anyway", replied Dad, strolling along.

We could see why the instructions say to take this route, as it is a much more pleasant approach to Calder Vale. A small community of nondescript houses in a number of terraces. There were lots of cars, but not a soul to be seen. There did seem to be a somewhat intimidating feel about it, but we are quite sure this is not the case at all.

We climbed up the road out of the hamlet passing the building that was once the police station, but now just a private house, and so on to the main road, where on the verge was a seat.

"A prefect place for lunch", remarked Tetley.

"Ooh yes", enthused Allen, "my tummy is rumbling."

We settled on the bench, and Allen got the sandwiches out, passing them round.

"As it's a bit cool, I have made flasks of tea", said Shaun.

"Great" cried Allen, "I'm gasping for a drink."

"No surprise there", replied Grizzly, rolling about with laughter.

"These scones are nice", said Tetley.

"They're date and walnut, I thought they would make a change", replied Grizzly.

Well lunch over there was just one more thing to do before we set off again. That was to have our picture taken.

Onward now, via the kissing gate on the opposite side of the road, and over the field to cross a stile, Dad talking to Uncle Brian on the mobile. There were superb views over the Fylde to Blackpool Tower and and we could see clearly too the 'Big One' roller coaster on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Dad walked on ahead, as it seemed there was a stile in the bottom corner, but this was in the adjacent field so we had to back track to cross the stile left. Dad muttered again, "I will never learn!".

Down to the same corner again, but with a stile to allow passage, we crossed the next field, to Heald Farm, that too is now dwellings. The path is diverted left, to the access road that we walked along to the main road.

"We go ahead, said Shaun, "and at the bend leave the road and continue in the same direction, to pass Clarkson's Farm.

Coming to the end of the lane the route was along the house access and then by its side to recross the M6 and the railway.

"Where now", called out Grizzly.

"Through this maize field to the opposite side, and then on a narrow path to a stile", replied Shaun.

This was above the cutting of a long disused railway, that we descended into and up the other side and over a stile into a field.

"Oh if only Uncle Eric was with us, then he could tell us all about it", said Little Eric.

"Well we will just have to do the research ourselves", replied Tetley

We say a big thank you to Wikipedia, for the following -

This was the former Garstang and Knott-End Railway, the cutting we had crossed being at the beginning where it spurred off the now West Coast Main Line, from the long closed Garstang & Catterall station. It took 5½ years to build a seven-mile single-track line from Garstang only as far as Pilling, across once desolate peat bog that was being reclaimed for farming. The final cost was £150,000. The line opened to services on 5 December 1870, running with a single locomotive, Hebe, although the official opening ceremony was not until 14 December 1870. Trains were mixed (passengers and goods), and goods wagons were uncoupled along the line to be collected on the return journey. Passengers could board at any point along the line by request.

In 1872, after well over a year of almost continuous use, the locomotive broke down. This caused a suspension of service, which in turn led to the company being in rent arrears. The locomotive was repossessed, and for the next three years only occasional horse-drawn trains were run. Goods services resumed on 23 February 1875 using a new engine, Union. Passenger services followed on 17 April 1875. A replacement engine, Farmer's Friend, was acquired in December of that year. It became known locally as the Pilling Pig on account of the squeal made by its whistle. Subsequently this name was given to all engines and was often used to refer to the railway itself.

In 1898, a separate Knott End Railway (KER) Company was incorporated, to extend the line from Pilling to Knott End. The 4½ mile extension was opened on 29 July 1908 and the KER took over the Garstang and Knott-End Railway.

 It closed to passengers on 29 March 1930, but the line continued to be used for goods. The Pilling to Knott End stretch was closed on 13 November 1950; almost all of the line closed on 31 July 1963, apart from the short section to Garstang Town station, which survived two more years until 16 August 1965.

Beyond the stile the way was across a field and over another stile to then walk right by the fence with Greenhalgh Castle ahead.

By the houses we rejoined the outwards route, heading along the lane to Garstang, the church tower being seen over the trees. A lovely typically English pastoral scene.

"Cafe time, Dad?", asked Little Eric.

"Sure thing Lad", he replied

We sat by the river, while Dad went to the cafe called Reds, where he had a nice scone with butter and jam and a pot of tea for just £3.

After which Dad drove us home.

"Thanks for a lovely Dad", said Tetley on behalf of us all.

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