Date - 8th January 2020 Distance - 8.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL41 Start point - Slaidburn car park (SD 7137 5235)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



Allen and Southey were looking disconsolately out of the window watching the rain falling.

"We are into the new year, and I had hoped that we would be able to get out for a walk this first weekend, but no the weather is not improving and both days look to be wet", said Allen mournfully.

"I know, but at least 2019 is gone, for which Dad will be thankful", replied Southey.

Tetley strolled in and having heard Southey, said, "it was without a doubt the worst year ever for Dad. First there was Uncle Brian getting the foot ulcer the healing of which, was so slow meaning he had to make endless visits to the hospital and nurses. Then just when they thought that this was coming to and end, Uncle Brian just collapsed and died suddenly. Uncle Brian had been struggling and heartbreaking though it was for Dad, he is now at peace."

"Dad has coped better than I expected", went on Allen. "He misses Uncle Brian every single day, as we do too. But he has such wonderful memories of the years they spent together and he lives on in our hearts."

Shaun at Little Eric arrived now with the tea and cakes.

"Lovely", said Southey, going to get the mugs and plates.

"There are scones today with butter and jam", said Little Eric. "A choice of fruit and cherry and ginger."

Soon we had steaming mugs in paw and the were tucking into the scones.

"They are delicious", said Tetley.

"Mmm", agreed Allen. Then he said, "where's Grizzly?"

"Not sure", replied Little Eric. "Perhaps watching a TV programme with Dad?

"He'll be along", said Tetley.

And sure enough a little while later he arrived.

"Here's your tea", said Shaun.

"Thanks pal. The reason I was late is that Dad has told me that he is planning to take us walking next Wednesday. The forecast is good, and getting out on our first walk of 2020, will help him to put all the trauma and sadness of 2019 behind him. As you know Uncle Roger bought Dad a book on walks in Lancashire. Quite a few we have already done as part of the 2015 challenge to climb all the Bowland Fells. That still leaves many, some being too far for this time of year, but there is one from Slaidburn. It will be completely new ground, across the fields and with some road walking too."

"Great", cheered Southey. "It will be so good to be out in the fresh air."

"Super", said Allen, helping himself to another scone.

"That's your fourth", chided Tetley. "You are the arch cake stuffer."

"Well they are so good and I have to keep my strength up."

"Any excuse", laughed Southey.

Shaun just shook his head, then raised his mug. "Here's to the best Dad ever."

"Aye", agreed Little Eric, "we should count our blessings.



The Walk

So on a dry day with sunshine and cloud, we got settled on the front seat of the car, as we heard Dad slam the rear hatch shut.

Pulling out of the drive Tetley said, "the route is from Lancaster over Past Jubilee Tower then through the Trough of Bowland to Dunsop Bridge"

"That's right lad", replied Dad. "Then on via Newton in Bowland to Slaidburn."

Ever so familiar from the many times we travelled most of this route in 2015, when on our quest to complete the challenge of climbing all the Bowland Fells.

"Only joining the club in 2012, I will never complete the Lakeland challenges, but at least I can say I have done all the Bowland Fells", said Southey. "It was a great 6 months for us reaching all those summits and exploring so much new ground."

"Really interesting", added Little Eric. "And, we did not realise how much water is collected from Bowland by United Utilities to supply Lancashire. Pretty sure that is where our water comes from."

On the drive we spotted some of the fells we had climbed and places we had parked and reminisced in our minds about those days out. The road really narrowed and the fellside crowded in on either side as we went through the Trough itself. Then soon we were at Dunsop Bridge, Dad turning left to for the final section via Newton.

As we entered Slaidburn we kept out eyes peeled for the car park, Grizzly calling out, "here it is on the left."

It is pay and display. We saw Dad putting the money in and returning with the ticket, Allen asked, "what was the the charge."

"I have opted for the maximum charge for over 4 hours, an extremely modest £2.30!!

"So reasonable", remarked Tetley. "It would have been £6 or more in the Lakes."

Dad quickly got ready while we snuggled down in the rucksack. Then shouldering this Dad said, "OK lads, off we go."

"It's right", called out Shaun.

Immediately on the right is the Riverside Tearoom. Peering Allen said, "it's open and you'll be going there after we get back."

"That's a certainty", confirmed Dad.

Very soon we approached the war memorial.

"Turn right", advised Shaun. "Then very shortly cross Croasdale Bridge and take the footpath right." Access was by this kissing gate... walk beside Croasdale Brook.

To the left the ground rose. Southey was looking at the map with Shaun, and said, "we only follow the brook for a short way. Once past the high ground we swing left and follow along by a wall on the left."

"Well done pal", said Grizzly.

"Well I need to hone my map reading and direction skills, as I have much less experience than the rest of you", replied Southey.

By the wall the path led through gates to finally drift right onto a track that led to Holmehead Bridge that spans the River Hodder. An Internet search revealed this is a Grade II listed structure that is thought to date from the 18th century.

Beyond we walked the broad track, initially by the river, to Hammerton Hall.

"Look at all the rows of tiny windows", commented Little Eric. "I wonder how old the building is?"

"I'll look it up when we get home", promised Tetley.

This revealed that it is an Elizabethan house built circa 1600, and stands of the site of a 12th century house parts of which are incorporated in the present building. The original 12th century house was owned by the Hammerton family. It is Grade II*listed.

The track led past the buildings and bent right. Southey with Shaun's prompting once again gave directions. "Very soon we go left through a gate and on by the wall to the right."

"There's the waymark", called out Allen.

"That's that way", confirmed Southey.

The path may look a pleasure to walk along and indeed it would be had it not been for all the rain that has fallen over the past few months. This like all the fields was sodden, and Dad just squelched along. "We have had rainy times over the years, but never like this", remarked Grizzly, as Dad continued to slip slide his way up towards the distant plantation. "I feel so sorry for the farmers trying to work the land in these conditions."

"Will it ever dry out", went on Allen. "We'll need some weeks of continuous dry weather and sun. That seems to be in very short supply too with day after day of cloudy overcast skies."

After the brow we passed through a gate and then onwards to walk a narrow muddy enclosed path with the plantation to the left, through which we had the odd glimpse of Stocks Reservoir. On and on eventually passing through a kissing gate with a fence to the left and wall on the right, to eventually emerge into open pasture and continue by the wall to the left. Through the next gate the track led on with trees to left and to arrive at Black House farm and then walk the long access to road.

"Look" called out Tetley, "finally good views of Stocks Reservoir."

"We had a great walk with Uncle Eric, when we walked all round", said Little Eric.

"That was in July 2018", said Tetley. "We had had a very hot dry spell of weather and the water level was very low. Quite a contrast to now, with all the rain."

Allen pointed over the fence, "we walked along that path."

At the end of the long farm access we arrived at the road by a corner. "Our way is straight ahead", advised Shaun.

"Thanks lad, but first let's visit Dalehead Chapel."

Out of picture is a wind turbine that provides the power to the building. The sign on the door indicated the church was open. "Can we go inside?", asked Grizzly, who likes visiting churches.

This tiny church is dedicated to St James. It was established in the late 1930's when the site of the old Parish Church had to make way for Stocks Reservoir. It was rebuilt stone by stone and those buried in the old churchyard were removed and relocated with the present graveyard.

We spent a few quite minutes here thinking about and remembering our dear Uncle Brian. Dad wrote as such in the visitors book.

On our way again, Southey issued instructions, "About 250yds along the road we have to take a narrow path right through woods."

Keeping a look out, soon Allen called out, "here."

The path led unerringly to a step gap stile into more wet and boggy pasture. "It's left to that gate and along the track past the barn", pointed Southey.

This led to Brook House Green farm.

Dad paused to take the picture and we stood looking about. This prompted a lady at the house to come out calling, " are you lost?"

Dad replied, "no, the way is along your access track to the road."

This was Dugdale Lane that we followed right to cross the B6478. Just before Little Eric called out, "there's a postbox. Will you take a picture." Then he went on, "what a posh sign indicating it dates from the reign of Queen Elizabeth II."

"Straight across the main road," instructed Shaun.

A steady tedious climb now, to come to this ladderstile.

Southey called out, "we climb over then take the left of two paths, towards the large building called Champion. More Internet research told us that 'Champion' means common enclosure.

This was achieved by crossing unsurprisingly more boggy ground! First over the field to a gate. Beyond lay an area the walk instructions warned was marshy ground. Ironically this was not as boggy as some of the fields today! However as a precaution Dad did not cross diagonally that was the actual path, but went right and through a wall gap and then left between the wall and fence to climb a step stile right. Now by the stream to then slip slide his way over a very boggy culvert and across another very wet field and finally through the gate to building.

"It seems to have its own private pond", laughed Tetley. "No doubt as a result of all the rain."

"Where now?", asked Little Eric.

"Past the building then over the next field to a stile", replied Southey.

More wet ground. After the stile we then crossed the next field to a stone step stile, then on to skirt the wall corner to a gateway.

"Oh heck", exclaimed Grizzly. "I really did not think it could get any muddier."

It was no more than 10 yards, but it must have taken about ten minutes to get to the gateway. Dad tried standing on the few tussocks but inevitably slipped off and sunk to above this ankles. He tried one way and then another, in the end going in a circle. We lost count of how many times Dad sunk into the mud, and kept our paws crossed that his foot would come out still with his boot on. Thankfully it did and finally we were through, to then walk the grassy path to Anna Land End farm.

Dad went right into the farmyard, so disturbing some cows. "Sorry Dad", called out Shaun, "we should have told you to keep ahead and join the access."

Rounding the building he climbed the bank to a gate onto B6478. This route albeit wrong did have the bonus of seeing a few of our favourite Herdwicks.

"We need to go left along the road", said Southey.

Now above Anna Land End, we could see the correct path. "That looks pretty boggy", commented Dad. "Although off track, I think it was easier the route we took."

Shortly a signpost pointed right. "That's our way, towards Standridge", said Shaun.

The access descended, and just before the farm our route was indicated left, following a diversionary path avoiding the buildings. This climbed quite steeply by a fence across more very wet ground and up to a kissing gate. "We go left through it", advised Shaun.

"Huh", said Dad, "its tied up! Oh well I'll just climb over the fence instead."

Here there was a nice view to the fells. Catlow Fell is to the left, while towards the right distantly topping all are the Bowland Knotts. A glimpse can also be seen of Stocks Reservoir that we had passed earlier.

Beyond for a few yards the ground was firm, but it did not last, and was just as wet and boggy again as we headed past Pikefield Plantation. This picture clearly shows how wet the ground was.

Past a stile by the plantation we followed the fence skirting left of the farm.

"The instructions say cross the wall", said Shaun.

Dad thought this was the facing wall so went through the gate in it. Looking about he then said, "we're wrong somehow."

However a lady who lived at a house came to our rescue. She said there was a stile in the wall on the right but it is not obvious and the sign has gone. This would have then taken us past Lower High Field farm and the path to Slaidburn. Instead she suggested, we go right at along a track and then up to a ladderstile in the wall on left.

Looking at the map Shaun said, "the upshot of this is we are on a different footpath to that in the published walk. However it too goes to Slaidburn."

As we crossed the ladderstile we noticed that the ladies puppy dog had joined us. Dad tried to make it go back, but he thought it was just a game. At the next stile Dad thought this would defeat the puppy, but it just slid under the fence. As we got to the next gate the lady caught us up, and with a little difficulty was able to catch the dog to carry him back. She said, "he is very young and has no sense. Everything is just a game."

Continued by the wall to a stone step stile, and on to a kissing gate on the left leading to a long narrow path, and through another kissing gate right. Here walked the descending narrow path onto the road.

"Right here over the bridge", called out Southey.

This very recognisable bridge here at Slaidburn...

...spans the River Hodder.

In just a few yards, we reached the car park, where we sat on a seat to have our picture taken. Well you did not think you would get away with us not appearing in the story.

"OK" said Tetley. "Time for our picnic, while Dad goes off to the Riverside Cafe."

Here Dad had a nice all day breakfast and a warming pot of tea with extra hot water.

We timed completing the walk to perfection, as soon after we settled in the car it started raining quite heavily. "Glad we are in the warm and dry", said Little Eric, munching away on a sandwich.

So with Dad, duly refreshed we he drove us home.

"That was a good start to our 2020 walks", said Southey. "Thank you as always so much for taking us."

"You are welcome lads. I can't imagine not having you in my rucksack."


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