STAPLE OAK FELL, WHINS BROW & DUNSOP VALLEY

Allen's 11th Birthday walk.


Summary

Date - 23rd August 2015 Distance - 10 miles
Ascent -
2560ft
Map - OL41 Start point - Small parking area above Langden Brook (SD 64728 50518)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Staple Oak Fell 1361 415 SD 6414 5216
Whins Brow 1562 476 SD 6365 5329

 

Preface

Southey was sitting looking out of the window, watching the goldfinches on the feeders. "Dad keeps the feeders topped up, attracting a lot of birds to our garden, and I love to watch them."

"He is doing his bit to help the finches and sparrows, that's for sure", replied Tetley, looking up from his Dalesman magazine.

Allen was on the iPad and said, "Dad's not at the shop this weekend, so there is a good chance we will get out to explore more of the Bowland Fells."

"Which is the best day for the weather?", asked Southey.

After a few taps with his paw, he replied, "Sunday."

"Just a case of putting our thinking caps on to decide which to do next", said Tetley.

This was temporarily put on hold however as just then Shaun, Little Eric and Grizzly, arrived with the tea and cakes.

"Ooh tea & cakes", cried Allen.

"That's just the ticket for getting my brain going", said Southey, who went off with Tetley to bring the mugs and plates.

"So what's the cake today?, asked Allen.

"Apricot and peach slice", said Grizzly. Adding , "Little Eric has made coconut and cherry slice."

"Scrumptious", cried Southey.

Tetley helped Shaun fill the mugs, while the cakes were passed round. And so, all was well and our thoughts turned back to walking.

Allen having explained the discussions to date, Shaun said, "we are at the stage where it is time to tackle the central area to the east and west of the Trough, near to Dunsop Bridge."

The map was quickly spread out and we gathered round. After a minutes consideration, Grizzly suggested, "how about we start with Staple Oak Fell and Whins Brow. There is a route up from Trough Barn."

"OK", replied Southey, "but in each case we have to make a there and back to each summit."

"Agreed", said Allen, "but there is no real alternative."

"Right so far then", said Shaun. "The path continues down Oster Rake and into the Brennand Valley and a return along the Dunsop Valley to complete the circle. It would seem the best place to start is the little parking area by the road just before Dunsop Bridge, above the Langden Brook"

"Middle Knoll stands above the farms and is another summit we have to do, so I wonder if we could get that done too?", suggested Little Eric.

"Hmm", mused Allen. "I will suggest it to Dad, but it will depend how he feels on the day."

"It maybe as well to make that the subject of a separate walk", said Tetley. "Starting from the same place it would be a there and back up the Dunsop Valley taking in the climb of course."

Allen drained his mug and taking the map went off to ask Dad. Just minutes later he was back, with a smile on his face. "Dad agrees it is time to get into this area and is happy with our suggestion. As for Middle Knoll it is a case of wait and see on the day."

"The following Tuesday is your 11th birthday Allen", said Grizzly. "So this walk will be a good way to celebrate it."

Allen replied, "it certainly will. I could never have believed when I was adopted that I would see so much of the countryside and climb so many hills and mountains. And, I hope there will be lots and lots more walks to come."

"Quite", cheered Southey. "Here's to Sunday", as he raised his mug in salute."

 

The Walk

We were up early, finding we were in for a sunny and warm day but with strong wind. All lending a paw the picnic was soon ready and safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

As soon as Dad had his gear loaded we dashed out to the car calling goodbye to Uncle Brian.

The route had become very familiar, via Quernmore and past Jubilee Tower to drop down and then eventually through the narrow section that gives the area its name, Trough of Bowland. Shortly the rough parking area to the right was reached, our start point standing above Langden Brook.

Dad was soon ready, so we got ourselves settled in the rucksack, Shaun saying, "we have to walk back along the road."

This took us past the access to Hareden Farm, the road climbing and giving us this delightful view of Langden Brook, with to the right Smelt Mill Cottages that has been the headquarters of the Bowland & Pennine Mountain Rescue Team since 1978.

Striding on we passed the popular mobile tea and burger bar.

"Too soon to stop", said Grizzly, firmly.

"I know", replied Dad, with disappointment in his voice.

Rounding a bend we then reached Sykes Farm with its impressive farmhouse.

Beyond the road narrowed passing some waterworks installations, and on the left set into the hillside this old limekiln.

"Are we going to walk all the way back to Lancaster?", piped up Southey.

"No pal", replied Shaun. "See that barn on the right just a little way ahead. Our route is up the track just beyond."

It was surfaced so made for easy progress.

"The map shows a building called Trough House", remarked Tetley. "I wonder if anyone lives there?"

On reaching it, his question was quickly answered in the negative, as can be seen below it had long been ruinous.

Beyond, the track was more rough and unkempt. Coming by some woodland, Shaun instructed, "we keep on ahead by the wall on the right."

Now the path, narrow and intermittent at times, climbed on through long clumps of grass. Looking ahead, Allen said, "we must be making for that gate in the wall."

"Correct", replied Shaun.

Beyond the gate, the path led on up to the left of Bleashaw Clough to finally crest the ridge.

To our right was Staple Oak Fell our first objective. Little Eric was looking at the map, and said, "it shows the path loops right and back, the best point to head across towards the summit."

"OK", agreed Dad.

Well, the maps are not always totally accurate, and in fact the path just kept straight on. So without further ado, Dad just turned round towards Staple Oak Fell.

We guess that this summit is probably little visited if the total absence of a path is anything to go by. A solitary tree stands close to the summit, which in view from here was an initial guide.

"That's Totridge forming the backdrop", said Allen.

"On the list to do", added Southey.

"Yes lads", replied Dad. "The plan will be to climb that once we have done the hills on this side of the road."

Crossing the rough ground, which Dad is well used to, brought us to a hurdle in the fence. Then more rough ground but after a while we picked up a quad bike track that avoided some of the peat hags and bog.

Soon Allen called out, "we are homing in on the grid reference for the summit, but we need to be a more left."

Very soon the solitary tree was reached. "It could be the summit", mused Little Eric.

"Perhaps", agreed Tetley, "but I think that maybe the hump over there to the south-west is higher."

Using the GPS, it was agreed this was the case, and we quickly jumped out to settle amongst the heather for our picture.

"I don't suppose you will be in a rush to bring us back here?", said Southey.

"No lads", was Dad's firm reply.

So making more use of the quad bike track, Dad made his way via the hurdle in the fence to the main path, following this close by the fence on the right to reach a facing gate.

"OK", said Shaun. "That is our route for later, but for now to bag the second summit Whins Brow we have to go left by the fence."

At first the path was rather intermittent through some peat hags, but as we climbed the ground became grassy, and before too long the trig point came into view.

It is sited on the far side of the fence, a kissing gate having been provided for access. However, rather naughtily we thought, it was tied up!

"Never mind", said Dad, "I'll just climb the fence."

He was over in quick sticks, being a veteran at this.

Blowing strongly the wind meant that we had to be satisfied to huddle on the lee side for our picture.

Settled again, Dad decided to try his luck with the other kissing gate, finding this too was tied up. He untied the string, and so that is was left as we found it, re-tied it once through. Then is was back down to and through the gate. Strolled on with this wonderful view of the Brennand Valley and Middle Knoll opening up.

Soon the descent steepened along the narrow rocky trod of Oster Rake that clings to the fell with a steep drop right!

"Ooh" said Southey, "I don't like the look of that."

The wind was even stronger here, but sure-footed as ever Dad got us safely down, the path swinging right to bring us finally to Brennand Farm, seen in the picture above.

Walking through the buildings we encountered another of the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society signs.

"If you don't mind Lads, I would rather leave Middle Knoll for another day. I just do not feel up to do that as well today."

Of course Dad, that's fine", responded Tetley. "It will make a nice walk on its own."

"How could we possibly argue", went on Grizzly. "You have been so good to take us on all the many adventures. We are such lucky bears and sheep."

We skirted left from the farm to join a good track. "Time for lunch, don't you think Dad?", said Allen rubbing his tummy.

"Good idea", agreed Dad

Quietly munching our sandwiches we took in this most beautiful situation, the valley ringed by hills all round. So unsurprisingly there was no mobile signal, preventing Dad from ringing Uncle Brian.

All done we headed off again strolling the track above Lower Brennand Farm, the only other habitation in the valley, and on down to the road that runs through the Dunsop Valley. The buildings are waterworks installations. The Bowland area is a large catchment area for water for the people of Lancashire.

The road is level through the Dunsop Valley and so popular with walkers out for a stroll now meeting a number, having up to then only seen one other walker. Strolled the valley with the river to our left and the steep slopes of Staple Oak Fell to the right.

"That's an usual looking stone", remarked Tetley, at one point. "I wonder if the hole was created naturally?"

In fact we could not decide whether it was erosion caused by a stone wearing the hole or not.

We strode and Allen said, "I dare to hope that we will get away without any sheep pictures today."

"You've done it now", warned Southey.

And how right he was, as Dad was quick to snap this shot. "Darn!", said Allen.

As the valley widened out we reached this substantial footbridge over the River Dunsop.

"The path over that leads to Dunsop Bridge", said Shaun. "We keep to the road, then by Closes Barn strike right over the pasture."

This led to a stile in a wall and so to a gate onto the road going right the short way to the car. A lady walking along the road noticed us so Dad explained.

"Thanks Dad, that was a good walk and great to get those two summits ticked off", cheered Little Eric, echoing all our thoughts.


Scrambling out of the rucksack we settled in the car, while Dad got his boots off.

"Right now for the reconnaissance mission to see it there is parking, where we hope for the climb to Baxton Fell", said Dad

He took us through Dunsop Bridge, that being Sunday was packed and on to Newton.

Shaun had his eye on the map saying, " we go left immediately we get to the village."

This was Back Lane a narrow single track road, but fortunately there were passing places when Dad met farm land rovers coming towards us.

Just after a sharp bend Shaun called out, "we take the next left, Woodhouse Lane."

This ends at the southern end of the Hornby Road, that is just a track. Seeing a car and van parked whose occupants had just come back along the lane, Dad stopped, and asked, "is there space to park at the far end?"

"Yes", was the reply. "There is a space just beyond the gate, and on the verge just before."

"Thank you", replied Dad, explaining the reason for his question.

As we drove back, Allen said excitedly, "that's great news. The plan for Baxton Fell and Burn Fell is a go."

Reaching Back Lane Dad went left to Slaidburn then taking the Settle road.

"I guess you are going to Feizor for refreshment", said Tetley.

"Elaine's tearooms here we come," Dad replied

The tearooms had been extremely busy all day, but Dad caught it just as it was getting a little quieter. We sat at the table he and Uncle Brian have every Monday, being looked after by Hannah Baines. He had large pot of tea, chocolate caramel shortbread and scone with butter and jam.

There was a laugh with Alice, when she brought the cakes and said, "are both these for you!"

"Yes, but I have done quite a long walk."

"Well that's OK then."

He chatted a bit with Jonathan who was having a break from washing up and saw Elaine for a quick chat outside as we left.

Super Day!

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