THIMBLE HALL, SPENS FARM & HINDBURN BRIDGE
from ASHLEYS

 


Summary

Date - 13th February 2016 Distance - 6.5 miles
Ascent -
1040ft
Map - OL41 Start point - Layby opposite Ashleys (SD 6331 6789)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Allen and Southey were mournfully staring out of the window watching the rain pouring down.

"Will it ever stop?", moaned Southey.

"What with that and the fact that Dad has had such a busy and worrying time, walking has taken a back seat", replied Allen.

Tetley went on, "Dad has been really worried about Uncle Brian, but the regular visits to the heart clinic have meant his health is much better."

"For which we are all so thankful", responded Southey.

Looking through the door, Allen called out, "here come Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric."

"Ooh great", cheered Southey, "tea and cakes."

He and Allen went to get the mugs and plates, and then Tetley helped Shaun to pour the tea.

"Thanks pal", said Shaun.

Little Eric announced, "Grizzly has made flapjack, and I have done peach and apricot slice."

We all helped ourselves and with steaming mugs in paw all was well.

"The flapjack is delicious", said Allen. "I like the way you have put chocolate over part of it too."

"Thanks", replied Grizzly. "I thought it would make it more interesting."

"We were bemoaning the fact that we had not been walking, just before you arrived", said Southey.

"I know what you mean", replied Grizzly, but maybe Dad will feel like taking us at the weekend, if the weather improves."

"First we need to come up with where we are likely to go", replied Tetley.

"Since the floods in December, the road from Wennington to Bentham has been closed, and Dad and Uncle Brian are using an alternative road. I have heard him comment that there is a large layby on this opposite a house called Ashleys. So how about we look at the paths from there?", suggested Shaun.

"Haha", laughed Grizzly, "Our pal has a house named after him!"

While Tetley went to get the map, Allen had grabbed the iPad and looked up the forecast. "Seems to be OK for Saturday. Mostly dry and just the slight chance of a shower."

Tetley unfolded OL41 and pointed, "here is Ashleys."

Shaun said, "for new ground the area must be to the south. So, let's take the path via Ridges and Thimble Hall and along the road to Spen Lodge."

"Fine", agreed Tetley. "Then there are paths across to near Smeer Hall and on the road to pass Lane House."

Little Eric got in the act now pointing, "those paths will then take us to Hindburn Bridge and on to Mill Houses and out to the road to complete the circle."

"Sounds like a plan", agreed Southey, who had the highlight pen in paw to mark the route.

"OK", said Allen, draining his mug, "I'll go and see what Dad thinks."

"I'll refill your mug", called out Shaun as he trotted out of the door.

"Thanks", he called back.

It was not long before he returned. His face wreathed in smiles. "Dad is longing to get out for a walk and likes our idea."

"Great", cheered Southey.

"Roll on Saturday", called out Little Eric.

 

The Walk

Dad's plan was to start walking about 10:00. This meant setting off around 09:15, after the rush hour. Once his gear was loaded, we hurried out to the car, calling out, "goodbye", to Uncle Brian and Gladly, who were busy doing the Telegraph crossword.

"Hope you have a good walk", replied Gladly.

The day was cold with some sun, and just the odd shower. After all the rain unsurprisingly the fields were extremely boggy, such that Dad sank up to the top of his boots quite a lot, making for harder progress as a result.

Ready for the off, Dad shouldered his rucksack with us safely tucked inside, Shaun saying, "we have to walk back a little way towards Wray to go left at the signpost on the access to Riggs Farm."

Arriving, there was indeed a post, but the attached sign had fallen off.

Approaching the yard Allen said, "it must be over that stile on the right."

Beyond the route led left to a gate so avoiding the farmyard. Clearly now the route was right across and down the field and through a gate to the right side of a small area of woodland.

Peering at the map, Shaun said, "we go ahead to the join that rather indistinct path the climbs by the far end of the wood."

Over the stile the path led on by the hedge to a second stile and on over the next large pasture, drifting a little right to another stile onto the access to Thimble Hall.

"A lovely house", commented Little Eric. "Very symmetrical."

"We cross and descend half left to the road", said Shaun.

Sheep were grazing, Tetley saying, "that group might make a nice picture."

"Hmph", said Allen. "No sheep free picture story today." He then went on, "I have to agree, it is a nice group shot."

At the road a sign pointed right and in a few yards another directed us left. "This is Little Plantation" advised Southey, looking up from the map.

The path was never in doubt, crossing a waymarked stile in a fence and onwards to emerge on to a road. "It's left now", called out Shaun, "as far as Spen Lodge."

Directly opposite we passed through a gate and crossed the field, to join a green path that descended beside Spen Gill Wood. clothes the sides of a deep ravine through which runs Spen Gill. Obviously!

"I can't see the gill but I can hear it tumbling down", commented Little Eric.

About halfway we came to a gate. "Oh heck, what a muddy mess", exclaimed Tetley.

"Hmm", agreed Dad, as he gingerly used some stones to get to firmer ground again.

Onwards the path brought us to a stile into the grounds of Spens Farm, where we met the owner. He spotted us peering out of the rucksack, saying "that's just great", when Dad explained. He then went on to say, "this house has not been a farm for a long time and was a holiday let until I bought it about 18 months ago."

It is nestled in a valley close to the River Hindburn, and Dad responded, "what a lovely place to live."

"Yes", he replied, "we are so happy here."

We could see our route up some steps by the wall, but he said, "it is very muddy on the path, so it would be better for you to use the access road."

"Thanks", replied Dad. Then as we made to set off again, "nice to have met you."

At its end the access joined the road by Furnessford Bridge.

"In the Middle Ages, Furness Abbey was very powerful and owned extensive lands across the north-west. I wonder if the name for the ford bears any reference to this?", mused Grizzly.

Shaun issued instructions saying, "we cross the bridge to very soon go right."

"There's the path", called out Allen, spotting the signpost.

This took us to the left of a barn and then climbed to a gate, where a good track through Birks Wood climbed steeply. The ground was so muddy in places that Grizzly commented, "it must be like climbing a down escalator!"

"Quite", agreed Dad.

Finally reaching the top a gate gave access to a field. "We go through that kissing gate", said Shaun, pointing right.

Now Dad literally squelched his way over an extremely boggy pasture to climb the stone step stile onto the road at Birks Farm. This is a substatantial stone building the original part of dating from 1667.

Here the farmer called out, "you didn't get bogged down then."

"Nearly", Dad replied.

This prompted a good few minutes chat about the weather. He said, "it has rained at some part of nearly every day since the end of October."

There was more talk then about hardships of farming in general, e.g. milk prices etc. He then went on to say, "we get a few walkers through here in the summer but none in the winter."

Dad replied, "so, I am unusual then?"

As we set to walk on, Dad like before said, "nice to have met and chatted to you."

Continuing on through the farm, Shaun said, "we take that track to the right."

At the next gate the path climbed up yet another muddy soft pasture to come by a wall on the right and so to a road.

"We go straight across, through that gate", said Southey, who was helping Shaun with the route instructions to gain experience.

The muddy track ran by a wall that we climbed via a stile, beside which was a small stream that here dropped in a tiny waterfall.

"That will make a pretty picture", said Grizzly. "I think it is fair to say that few if anyone will have photographed it before."

Keeping by the wall on the right we soon climbed a stile onto the road again. Going ahead this was followed past Lane House.

"Fairly soon we have to go right", advised Shaun."

"Shortly, spotting a gate, Tetley said, "although there is no signpost, this must be it"

As we walked on over the large pasture, Southey said, "there is a stream to cross, so we should look for a footbridge."

This soon came into view and beyond Dad went half left to a gate and then diagonally right to the road.

"We go left", said Shaun.

Then immediately as we passed Broad Wood he called out, "now it is right over this stile."

Allen said firmly, "when it comes to writing the story, it will be about time that we made an appearance, so how about we sit on this stile.

"Yes", agreed Southey, as with the rest of us he scrambled out of the rucksack.

Settled again, Dad kept by wood to gate in a fence. Here it was half left to waymarked gate and then right around the grounds of the buildings. A gate took us on to the access road that we followed left down to Hindburn Bridge.

Here Dad paused to take this nice picture looking up stream of the River Hindburn.

On the far side we took the signed track immediately left.

"This section we have been on before, albeit coming in the opposite direction from Trinket Lane", said Tetley.

"It's part of the Three Rivers walk, from Hornby", went on Grizzly.

Very soon it was right over a stile into a field, crossing this to a step stile and on to the next stile and footbridge.

"That's a very shaggy sheep", laughed Tetley. "You have got to take a picture, Dad."

Just minutes later, Little Eric said, "look at that duck. Another picture Dad?"

After the footbridge, another two stiles brought us on to Trinket Lane, where it was right to the junction and then right again to soon take the signed path left through Mill Houses.

The path went right behind the houses and then left and left again to a stile into a field.

Tetley said, "there was sure to have been a mill here in the past and these houses must have been occupied by the workers."

We looked it up later, and Tetley was indeed correct, there having been a bobbin mill. Unlike many others on closure it was not converted and has largely disappeared. If you are interested to know more, click the link here for and extensive article - The Mill at Mill Houses, Wray

As we now walked over the next field, Grizzly suddenly called out, "look pals, Herdwicks. Our favourite sheep.

"It is a surprise to see them here", went on Tetley.

"I know I usually object to sheep pictures, but not Herdwicks", said Allen. "There's a real grand daddy one too."

Dad went a bit snap happy here, and we could not decide which ones to include and which to leave out. So here are all he took.

Leaving the Herdwicks in peace once again, the path was through a gate to the left of a house, and then right a few yards to go left though a gate and on to then climb a rusty gate. Now it was through the gate right and then left up by the hedge.

Shaun now says, "I have to apologise to Dad. Perhaps it was having seen the Herdwicks, but my concentration wavered and by not reading the map I did not tell Dad that we should have crossed this field to the fence on the right side."

Instead Dad saw a way to the road in the field on the far side of the hedge. He walked back down to get into this field and so on to the road by climbing the gate.

It was only as we walked along the road to the car that we saw the signpost for where we should have come out.

"Look", called out Tetley. "Snowdrops. A sign of spring is on the way."

Soon now we were at the car. "That was a nice walk", said Dad. "Thanks lads for devising it."

"You are welcome", replied Allen. "It is another area of countryside explored."

"Refreshment time?", said Tetley.

"Sure thing lad. We are off to Elaine's of course."

"Great", cheered Southey. "Can we come in too."

"Of course."

Dad enjoyed a lovely bacon and egg bun, followed by a fruit scone with butter and jam and washed down with a warming pot of Ringtons tea. He had a chat with Jonathan, and with Elaine too. She related her and Sharon's riotous day in Leeds drinking in gay bars. Elaine said, "I was fine next day, but Sharon was badly"

Dad remarked laughingly, "these youngster's can't take it."

A grand day.

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