RIVER LUNE, CLAUGHTON & CATON MOOR from BULL BECK
with additional wintry scenes when walked 9th January 2010 and further additional scenes when walked with Ged Perry on 7th August 2014

 


Summary

Date - 30th October 2007 Distance - 7 miles
Map - OL41 Start point - Bull Beck parking area (SD 531649)

 

The Walk

It had been a few weeks since we walked with Uncle Eric so it was nice to have his company again. Due to him having a meeting later in the day, Dad and he decided on a valley walk so we did not reach any summits today. One consolation was that it was only 20 minutes driving so we did not have to get up too early.

It was a beautiful sunny morning as we started from the car park at Bull Beck near the village of Caton. Crossing the road we then walked a little way along the old and long disused railway track before continuing along beside the River Lune that starts in the hills called the Howgills and flows out into Morecambe Bay, where we live.

Mentioning the source of the Lune has reminded Shaun that he went there with Dad and Uncle Eric in July 2000, and here he is with the GPS checking that he was in the right place.

It is amazing how such a little spring can become such a wide river.

As we walked along we saw quite a few people fly fishing in the river. Eventually we left the river and came to a lane that led to the road we had crossed at the beginning of the walk, at the village of Claughton (pronounced as in laugh). Just before we reached the road we came to a cottage. This had been the crossing gatekeeper’s house when the railway was in operation and indeed from 1851-1853 had served as the station at Claughton.

Uncle Eric is an authority on old railways, and tells us many interesting facts when we are walking with him. It is an education! Taking this photograph Dad is standing on the old track bed.

At the main road we passed a pub called the Fenwick Arms. For once Dad was not thinking about his stomach! However he did stop to take this picture. Many of you will know of TV series with the chef Gordon Ramsey, who Dad says comes out with naughty words. He went to different pubs etc supposedly sorting out the business and the Fenwick Arms is one of them.

In Claughton there is factory for making bricks, and the clay is brought down from a quarry on the top of the hills at the side of the valley. To do this an aerial ropeway is used. As we climbed up past Claughton Hall we eventually came to the clay pit and Dad took this photograph of the buckets on the ropeway. We would have given anything for a ride in the buckets, but Dad said we would get dirty. He's got a lot of room to talk, as you should see the state of his trousers after a walk. Uncle Brian says he must roll about in the mud.

We now walked along the top of the valley with lovely views to Morecambe Bay and north to the hills further up the valley. There was some picnic tables so we hopped out to have our photograph taken.

If you think that we are looking upward it was because we has passed by a wind farm and we were just amazed how huge the turbine are...

What to you think the chances were that Dad would get the near one with a blade in line with the tower! Now it was a long road that steadily went downhill. Soon after setting off we suddenly saw this sheep (no it isn't Shaun) standing and walking along the top of a wall. He looked comical and Dad was able to snap him before he jumped off into the field on the right. Dad sent the photograph to Dianne Oxberry, the weather lady on NW Tonight (our local news programme) and it was shown during the weather forecast. We were rather proud.

The road led down to the village of Brookhouse and just before we reached it we saw these lovely trees with the autumn colours.

All that then remained was to walk through the village and across a couple of fields to reach the road and a short walk to the car park. The original walk actually started and finished in the village of Brookhouse but there was a refreshment hut in the car park and as you know Dad likes to end the walk with tea and a snack, hence the adjustment to the start point! Uncle Eric kindly treated him to a mug of tea and bacon bun! While they chatted and made arrangements for future walks we sat in the car having our sandwiches and cakes!

Wintry scenes when walked on 9th January 2010

The country was in the grip of winter with everywhere affected by snow, in some places quite considerable amounts too. As is usually the case here on Morecambe Bay, we had not suffered like other parts, and when we set out to walk today, there was only about an inch or so, and this was thawing.

At the parking area, the bushes were still covered in snow.

Tetley said, "that makes a nice scene, and is worth taking a picture"

"OK", replied Dad lining up the shot.

It was just as well, as the snow had melted away when we returned at the end.

After the section on the old railway track, the banks of the River Lune were followed for some distance. Today is was flowing steadily, its surface ruffled by the bitterly cold east wind that Dad had to contend with on this section. We were glad to be safely tucked in the rucksack and sheltered behind Dad. The going however was easy, the snow crisp under Dad's boots. In places sheltered from the main current the river was frozen.

Once the second fence line was crossed, we left the riverside to walk over pastures to a lane, that led to the main road at Claughton, by The Fenwick public house.

If you compare this picture to the one taken in 2007, you will see a difference in appearance to the building. This is because it had recently been taken over by a company called Bowland Village Inns, who have spent over £300,000 refitting it. The following Tuesday Dad and Uncle Brian went there for lunch and they can recommend it without reservation. There is a nice atmosphere, good beer, very friendly and efficient service, and most important of all a wide choice of excellent food.

Across the main road, we followed the lane opposite, that climbs steadily to pass the entrance to Claughton Hall, then continuing to eventually pass beneath the aerial ropeway. On the side of the wall away from the sun, the snow was still clinging to the stones.

As we headed on towards Moorcock Hall, Dad met the only other person on the country sections of the walk today. This was a gentleman on his mountain bike, who lived in the village of Brookhouse, that we would walk through later. Just beyond the clay pit, Dad had had to negotiate a section that was just thick sheet ice, so he warned the gentleman, as we did not want him to fall off his bike.

The snowbound track stretched ahead, and we were pleased to see that the sheep had been well provided for.

Soon the wind farm on Caton Moor was reached. The picnic tables are still there, and despite the cold Dad stopped to have a quick bite to eat, and take our picture. We were going to sit on the table again, but it was too windy so we sat behind the structure on top of which is the information board about the wind farm. We did consider using Dad's map cover as a sledge, but the thought we had better behave ourselves.

The keen eyed among you might notice that in 2007 picture Little Eric does not feature, because he had not been born. So for him the whole walk today was a completely new experience.

This done Dad was glad to get his gloves on again, as his hands were rapidly becoming numb. So, it was steadily down the Quarry Road to Brookhouse, and along Holme Lane to regain the start. In Brookhouse we passed the Black Bull Inn, where Dad and Uncle Brian had been for lunch only yesterday. This is another establishment with a nice atmosphere and serving excellent food. A visit can be recommended.

It had been grand to redo this walk, especially in such contrasting conditions. The only disappointing thing for Dad was, that the snack bar at the car park was closed. Well what did he expect with such wintry conditions prevailing.

Further scenes when walked with Ged Perry on 7th August 2014

Dad and Uncle Brian fairly regularly go and sit in for fish and chips or the like at the Precinct Chip Shop, which is just a short distance away on the parade of local shops. Dad usually walks while Uncle Brian goes on his mobility scooter, which he calls The Beast. When he is setting off he says "I'm going to burn rubber!"

Ged Perry owns and runs the business, and he asked Dad if he fancied walking together. "Yes fine", Dad replied.

When he told us, Tetley said, "that's great, it will be nice to have Uncle Ged's company, and we are always up for getting out in the countryside."

So a date was fixed and Dad suggested to Uncle Ged this walk. "That's fine, I have always wanted to go up past the wind turbines."

When Southey heard he said, "that's great as I alone amongst the rest of you, have not done this walk before, so more new ground for me will be explored."

What was a little strange, was that we did not have to be up early, as Uncle Ged was working in the morning, so we actually started the walk about 14:30.

Parking as usual at Bull Beck we then set off across the road and along the old railway track to continue by the River Lune. "I don't remember that footbridge", remarked Shaun. "I am sure the last time we did the walk, we kept close to the river and crossed a stile in the fence." Looking at the map he then said, "the footbridge crosses Westend Beck."

"It must have been installed since to make the crossing easier", replied Tetley, as Dad and Uncle Ged headed towards it.

The day was dry with plenty of sun, and quite warm, but with a cool breeze when we got up on the ridge later.

The path now pretty much hugged the river, flowing gently under the blue skies, and making a pretty scene, with distantly the fell Gragareth on the skyline.

"You have got to appear in the story, Uncle Ged", said Allen. "How about posing here by the river."

"OK then."

We strolled on until after the second fence line, where we then struck half right as indicated by the waymark to a gateless gap into another pasture. Sheep were grazing, some of them being completely black, of which this one posed for Dad.

"Hmph", said Allen, "even on a half day outing, we cannot avoid getting sheep pictures in the story!"

Looking at the map Shaun instructed, "we cross to the far left corner, and then go over the small footbridge to cross the next pasture to a gate onto a lane, which we then follow right into Claughton."

"Thanks lad", said Dad.

Along the lane we passed some nice houses, including one to the right, a picture of which was included in the original part of the story. It is beside the old railway trackbed, and had once been the crossing gate keepers cottage and for a short period had also been Claughton station. Dad explained this to Uncle Ged, who remarked, "so that is why is called Crossing Cottage."

At the main road we crossed and took the lane opposite that after a while climbed steadily towards the ridge, passing by the entrance to Claughton Hall. It climbed on and then went right to pass under the aerial ropeway by which buckets filled with clay are transported from the clay pit down to the brick works in Claughton. During the recession the works had been mothballed, but we were pleased to see that it has now reopened.

The track then went left then right to reach a picnic area close by the wind turbines. Uncle Ged wanted to see them close up, so we strolled up the track to turbine number 3, which like all the others towered over us. Now of course the blades are firmly attached, but nevertheless it was just a little scary being under these huge rotating blades. This shot looking up, give some idea of the size.

Sandwiches had been brought, so we all took advantage of the picnic tables to enjoy these and the cake we had brought too, while enjoying the extensive views of Morecambe Bay and our beloved Lakeland Fells. Then we posed sitting on the table of our picture. Well we have to appear! It was breezy as was said earlier up here, and we just about managed to hang in for Dad to get the picture, before some of us tipped over.

As we set off again, Grizzly said, "what's that over there?" Being an inquisitive lot, we went to have a look.

"It's a compass", said Uncle Ged.

"Well that's different", added Little Eric.

Very nice with the tiles with the arrows and other designs, the one facing on the edge depicting John of Gaunt's Gateway at Lancaster Castle.

"What a shame though that some have been prised off and stolen", said Uncle Ged.

"Yes", replied Allen. "Some people have no respect for property and seem to be determined to spoil other people's enjoyment."

The route now was down Quarry Road and into Brookhouse, where we paused to look at the church. Grizzly would have dearly loved to go inside, but sadly it was locked. "What a shame", he said, "but it is a sign of the times."

The current church is dedicated to St Paul, but the earliest record of a church or chapel on the site is before 1230. The tower dates probably from the 16th century, with the rest of the church being rebuilt in 1865–67 to a design by the Lancaster architect E G Paley. Its estimated cost was £4,000 (£310,000 as of 2014). Paley worshipped in the church, as he had a country house nearby and when his son Harry, who succeeded his father in the architectural practice, died he was buried in the churchyard.

The church is constructed in sandstone rubble with a slate roof. Its plan consists of a four-bay nave with a clerestory, north and south aisles, a south porch, a north transept containing the organ chamber, a chancel at a lower level, and a west tower. On the towers west side is a doorway, over which is a three-light window with Perpendicular tracery. The bell openings also have three lights. The east window has three lights with Perpendicular tracery. In the west wall of the north aisle is a blocked Norman doorway containing a tympanum carved with human figures. It is filled in with coffin lids and medieval cross slabs.

Walking on we strolled through Brookhouse to the bridge over Artle Beck, here taking the footpath beside the beck. It was fenced from the rest of the field, and there were nettles, that proved to be a bit troublesome for Dad, as he was wearing shorts! Uncle Ged was fine has he was in jeans, and laughed at Dad's difficulties, as we secretly did too! Beyond a stile it was over the next field to climb a ladderstile to the main A683 road in Caton. Here we strolled left to return to the parking area at Bull Beck.

"I really enjoyed the walk", said Southey, "thanks Dad."

Uncle Ged had enjoyed it too, and we hope that there will be more walks with him in the future.

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