Lancashire walk - Longridge Fell
- Credit: Keith Carter
After eight years of writing walks for Lancashire Life, this month’s is the last. Regular readers will know there are not many places in Lancashire which have not received my attentions so it was important that this, the very last, should be a favourite and stand for the best to be found in walking in our county.
If asked where in the British isles I would choose if I could do one more walk before oblivion I would choose somewhere within Bowland, perhaps a well-kept secret among the walking fraternity, certainly a place of surpassing beauty whatever the season. So I settled on a place from which the superb panoply of the Bowland Fells can be seen spread out before the gaze in all its glory. I am speaking of Longridge Fell.
Longridge Fell is an outlier of the Bowland Group but holds its place among the others although perhaps less visited. Until recent times it was planted for forestry in the days when there was a tax advantage to growing trees. Walkers were not encouraged and there was virtually no way-marking. Now they don’t seem to bother with cutting down the trees and access is better although the waymarking is unimproved. One recent innovation has been the erection of a sculpture on Jeffrey Hill, a kind of carved tree trunk. Entitled Sun Catcher. Frankly, I feel it adds nothing but there you go, everyone to their own opinion.
I made three visits to the fell to check out the walks and the one described seems to me to offer the essence of the fell, revealing the best combination of distance, ease of route-finding and the best view, that from the trig point on Spire Hill, the summit. The broad vista spread out below is wonderful, from Beacon Fell on the left, then the rest of the fells, Parlick, Wolf, Saddle, Burnslack, Fair Oak, Totridge and the Trough of Bowland in the distance. Catch them when their tops have had a dusting of snow overnight, etching the contours into sharp relief and you will never forget them. No wonder that for some people these are their own blue remembered hills.
The parking area on Jeffrey Hill is a convenient starting point for our walk. Leave Longridge on the fell road to the golf club and on reaching Jeffrey Hill turn sharp right and park on the left.
Our direction on foot continues on the road in an easterly direction, rising over the brow and beginning to descend until an opening in the wall on the left appears with a gate leading onto the rough fell.
The path follows a wall and by staying alongside it, that is with the wall to the right, we will arrive first at a plantation, then cross a fence to arrive at the prominent trig point marking Spire Hill. The going underfoot is rough, the surface peat having been worn through by the passage of boots to the stony layer beneath but mountain bikers come up here without getting off so it’s passable.
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Having savoured the view, retrace your steps and where the plantation ends start looking for another path departing on the right, evident by the erosion and boot marks. Take this path striking across the open fell and after a few hundred yards it begins to veer to the left, the route apparent from a number of stone markers like milestones. We climb up to a brow then begin to descend and looking ahead the cars parked on Jeffrey Hill can be discerned. The path becomes more obvious and brings us to a gateway and stile then ends at the road.
So that’s my last posting, readers. Many of my walks have been in the company of my good friend Jim at whose expense I have sometimes made fun but as a walking companion you could not find a better. We have shared many a moment of delight at things seen by chance, buzzards over the treetops, hares sprinting away as we approached, a covey of partridges, snipe, butterflies like the fritillaries on Warton Crag, a fox surprised in a field, a slow-worm at our feet, migrating geese, kingfishers, early cuckoos, the first swallows and the last, a lapwing’s nest, so many moments we won’t forget. Thanks Jim for your company.
And to my readers, thank you for making the job worth doing. I will miss you.
Area of walk: Longridge Fell
Distance 2½ miles
Time to allow: 1½ hours
Map: OS Explorer OL 41 Forest of Bowland
Refreshments: The Newdrop pub
Editor Roger Borrell writes: ‘We are extremely grateful to Keith who has worn out many pairs of boots in the service of Lancashire Life. His entertaining writing style and dry wit will be missed. Next month writing and landscape photographer John Lenehan will be taking over this slot with a new series based on walks taking in country pubs and cafes. I hope you enjoy them.’