Date - 1st February 2020 Distance - 5.75 miles
Ascent -
500ft (approx)
Map - 287
Start point - Marles Wood car park (SD 6759 3563)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



All was well as we had steaming mugs of tea in paw and delicious cake, made by Grizzly and Little Eric on our plates.

"The mincemeat slice is scrumptious", said Shaun.

"As is the chocolate caramel shortbread", said Allen, with a look of ecstasy on his face as he took another piece.

"That's your third", said Southey.

"Well I have to live up to my reputation as cake stuffer, and anyway I note you are on your third piece too."

Grudgingly Southey had to agree.

That was a nice walk with Uncle Eric on Tuesday, and we got to cross the footbridge over The Bay Gateway link road that we had not done before", said Grizzly. "I wonder if Dad will feel up to walking at the weekend, bearing in mind how busy he has been lately?"

I'll see what the forecast is", replied Tetley, picking up the iPad. "Saturday is the best day, but it will be windy."

"So no hills then", said Little Eric. "How about we come up with an idea from the Walks in Lancashire book, and see what Dad thinks."

We scanned down the index. "How about this from Marles Wood, near the River Ribble and just a few miles from Ribchester. Dad can use the M6 for most of the journey, then following the main A59, before turning off", suggested Shaun. "It will be a start of us exploring the Ribble Valley."

We read the instructions with Tetley following it on the OS maps app. Allen said, "I think it is worth doing and being pretty flat will help Dad as he ploughs his way over the muddy and boggy fields and tracks." Then draining his mug said, "I guess as usual it is me that has to go and ask Dad."

"Please", replied Southey. "I'll make sure your mug is refilled and there is another piece of cake on the plate."

"OK pal", called out Allen as he trotted out of the door.

"Tea and cake. Works every time", laughed Tetley.

A few minutes later he was back, saying, "thanks", as he accepted the refilled mug of tea. "Dad is happy about our suggestion and barring any problems, it is a go for Saturday."



The Walk

We awoke to a cloudy and grey day with strong winds but a least from the sky it was dry. Underfoot was to be a completely different scenario. The large fields were very wet and boggy, due to the continually unsettled weather over the last few months, making their crossing more arduous.

The forecast showed unsettled weather later in the afternoon, so Dad resolved to be walking by 09:30. Our route was down the M6 to junction 31, then on the A59 towards Whalley.

As we drove along Dad said, "this route is familiar, being the way to Northcote. The Michelin starred restaurant and hotel that Uncle Brian and I went to. He loved going there. Always special."

Turning off to Ribchester we arrived at the bridge over the river. "We do not cross the river, but go straight on along the minor road", said Shaun.

By the road before the bridge stands a group of houses called De Tabley Mews. "Ah", said Dad, "that was where the De Tabley Arms Hotel used to be. I remember going there with mum and dad when I was young."

"A long long time ago then", responded Grizzly.

"Cheeky", replied Dad.

The road meandered passing Salesbury Hall, then almost immediately Marles Wood car park was to the left shrouded in trees, swaying in the strong wind. While Dad got ready we looked about, Allen pointed towards the road, "there's a waymark. That must be our route."

"Yes agreed Shaun. Then at the end we will come up that path on the other side."

"Right lads, I'm ready"

So quickly we got settled then Dad shouldered the rucksack and strode off. The waymarked short path led to the road.

"We go right then at the bend it's left over the stile and keep on by the trees" called out Southey.

Beyond the next stile Shaun said, "now head diagonally right."

I can see the next stile", said Dad. "There is a tall signpost by it", as he waded his way over the wet soft ground. "Phew, in normal conditions I would quickly be across, but it takes so much longer and is more energy sapping."

"Oh for a few weeks of dry sunny weather", implored Grizzly. "Let's hope we get a decent spring. I have never known such a prolonged period of unsettled weather."

Across the next field, it was right over a stile and then another muddy wet pasture to a path junction. "It's left to Parkgate Farm", called out Shaun.

The approach to the stile clearly shows the underfoot conditions Dad faced. The wide track that was happily not too wet, soon led to the farmyard, where this old metal ladderstile allowed onwards progress.

"That's three stile pictures in a row", said Little Eric. "Readers will get bored."

"I understand lad. I'll keep them to an absolute minimum for the rest of the adventure."

The farm access took us past the houses of the tiny community of Park Gate and to the A59 at Copster Green.

"Look", pointed Allen. "Primroses. Uncle Brian loved them. Please take a picture for remembrance."

"Turn left for 200 yards then go left on the access to Copster Hall", instructed Shaun.

The village is split by the main road. On the far side is the green referring perhaps to the name.

Dad crossed the cattle grid and kept on along a wide surfaced drive. "Nice to have dry firm conditions underfoot at least for a little way", remarked Tetley.

The way led over another cattle grid and past the barn. Then wound down to a sprawling and very untidy small holding, coming to a gate and stile.

"That's the route", called out Shaun.

"More wet boggy pastures", sighed Dad.

Basically the path was straight on but drifting a little left to cross Park Beck by this footbridge.

"Now its by those little remains of a wall to, according to the instructions, an isolated stile", said Shaun.

"It looks a bit odd", remarked Southey.

"That's it was once at a corner of the wall little of which now remains", replied Tetley.

Crossing the next large field Dad aimed, as per the instructions, for the gable of Dinckley Grange, passing this nice tree, bare against the cloudy sky. Dad did his best to keep on track despite the wind pushing us away to the left.

Over a stile we crossed the lawn and then along the drive in front the grand Dinckley Grange Barn.

"When the drive bends left, we should take the path right", advised Southey.

Looking at the boggy pasture beyond, Allen said, "it would perhaps be easier if we just continued the short way to the road and go right to the drive to Wardfall."

"Hmm", said Dad. "You are probably right, but for the sake of completeness I'll stick to the walk as published."

So a short path led to a stile into a large field that we crossed ahead. As it began to drop down, Tetley called out and pointed, "go left Dad to that kissing gate."

Beyond a smaller field led to a stile onto the road. "Right and then immediately left up that drive to the house called Wardfall", instructed Southey.

At the end of the drive our route was through a wooden gate into pasture. "We are heading to the left of that distant house at Aspinalls Farm", pointed Allen.

This pool appeared, its outlet running down into Dinckley Brook. "Fuller than normal I bet, with all this rain", commented Little Eric.

Away to the right these sheep, spotting Shaun, decided to come and say hello.

"Huh", said Allen. "There goes the sheep picture free story, but I guess there was no avoiding that shot."

Dropping down, we crossed this plank bridge...

...then via stiles crossed the next three fields, and so to a further stile onto the lane at Aspinalls.

Looking over the fence opposite, Southey called out, winding Allen up, "more sheep. And they are posing."

"Oh no", called out Allen as Dad lined up the camera. "Well like with the stiles, that's got to be it for sheep in this story!"

So left along the lane, which is actually on the line of the Roman Road from Ribchester to Elslack. At Moorgate Farm the drive doglegs and then continues to soon reach a junction.

"Turn right", said Shaun. "This is a private drive that ultimately leads to Dinckley Hall."

Seeing this sign...

...Allen said, "is the arrow pointing to where I would go to make a reservation."

"Oh gosh", groaned Tetley. "That was awful. I aught to Sioux you for that remark."

Reaching the entrance to Dinckley Hall, that originally dates back to the 13th century...

...the route was clearly waymarked down a narrow path between a fence and wall, then turning left above the River Ribble, as it meandered eventually to a wide junction of paths.

We go round left as indicated by that temporary sign", pointed Grizzly.

"Right ho", replied Dad, "but I want to get a shot of the footbridge that has fairly recently been constructed across the river".

It replacing the suspension bridge damaged by storm Frank in December 2015. Of steel construction it is 84m long, consisting of a 46m central span and two 18m side spans. The bridge has been built higher to mitigate against future flood damage and made wider to allow walkers to pass. The access ramp will be of help to people with push chairs and wheelchairs.

"My", breathed Southey. "That is very impressive."

Here we met a couple who had walked from the Marles Wood. They were looking for a round route on the other side of the river. They had no map, so Dad helped out and we hoped that they found their way. In retrospect Dad wished he had given them our map as we no longer really needed it. We got introduced too and they liked the idea of us going walking.

So pausing to take this of the River Ribble...

...Dad walked back and joined the path to Marles Wood. The clear path led on and on above the river, eventually to a stile into Marles Wood. Continued through the wood, to eventually take the waymarked rising path left up steps.

"We need to have our picture taken for the story", demanded Little Eric. "Let's sit on the steps."

"Good idea pal", agreed Allen. "We have to appear at least once."

The path then led unerringly to the car park.

As we drove home, Dad commented, "it was good to get some more miles done, but I did not think overall that the walk was particularly interesting. Perhaps my judgment was coloured by the strong winds today and extremely wet conditions underfoot, which made it feel longer than the 6 miles."

"Aye Dad, we felt sorry for you. It was without a doubt hard work slogging across those fields", sympathized Tetley. "Thank you for taking us out."


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