Category Archives: lancashire

Bronte Connections ~ Cowan Bridge.

In recent days I have written about a village with a movie connection and two villages visited by vampires. This next one has an association with members of perhaps England’s most famous literary family ‘ the Brontes’ .

I have passed through Cowan Bridge numerous times as it sits on the busy A65 in between Ingleton and Kirkby Lonsdale, our usual route up to the Lake District. In days gone by it would have been much quieter, the continuous traffic noise definitely distances the imagination away from the 1820s , when siblings Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte and Emily attended The Clergy Daughter’s School in the village.

We had decided to stop off for lunch on the way home from Cumbria on a busy bank holiday Monday. I must admit I suggested Cowan Bridge because I thought it may be easier to get lunch there than its more touristy neighbors. I have also always been curious about where on earth the Bronte school is……

It turned out the Tea Room was busy inside, but there was space outside next to the noisy road with the traffic whooshing by. πŸ˜… We just decided on coffee and prepackaged sandwiches and ate them in the pretty seating area.

Afterwards we pottered about the village in totally the wrong direction. Eventually a kind local pointed us toward the original bridge that Cowan Bridge takes its name from. After crossing it we came to a row of old stone cottages. These are what remain of The Clergy Daughter’s School.

An inscription on the end cottage wall reads :

Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte & Emily Bronte

Lived here as pupils of the Clergy Daughter’s School 18-24 – 25.

The school was moved to Casterton 1833.

Patrick Bronte was a clergyman living in Haworth with six young children. His wife Maria had sadly died a couple of years earlier. Sending four of their offspring to a respected boarding school for clergy children would no doubt have seemed the right thing for this busy man of the cloth to do.

Unfortunately the harsh environment at the school would contribute to the untimely deaths of the two eldest girls. Poor quality food, cold damp conditions and cruel unjust punishments were the norm. Maria, then Elizabeth were sent home suffering from consumption , both would die within weeks of one another. Patrick sent for Charlotte and Emily and they never returned to Cowan Bridge.

A still from the 1944 film version of Jane Eyre.

For Charlotte , her experiences at the Clergy Daughter’s School were to be drawn upon for her novel Jane Eyre. In the book young Jane is sent to Lowood School where she makes a new friend, Helen Burns. Helens and Jane’s life there mirrors that of her and her sisters harrowing time at Cowan Bridge.

Today one of the remaining cottages is available as an attractive Holiday Let , so fans of the Brontes’ can experience a little part of Bronte history. A short walk and you are away from the road noise and out into beautiful rolling countryside.

I am glad the buildings stand as a reminder of how harsh life could be back then, and also as a celebration of what the Bronte family would eventually achieve.

Have you visited any places where the Brontes’ lived, worked or played? πŸ“–

Whalley Abbey Wander.

Another weekend walk from home. On Sunday we decided to venture from Clitheroe to the nearby village of Whalley, via an old Roman road. The route took us 4 miles through muddy fields, eventually passing under a handsome red brick viaduct into Whalley. We found the cafe at Whalley Abbey was open for take away ( hurrah) and ate our lunch on the benches outside.

As I was meeting friends that afternoon I decided to chance it and catch the bus back, whilst Wil walked home with Hugo. Even though Whalley Abbey is practically on my doorstep, I have never actually explored the grounds. Well , they are beautiful. Can’t believe I haven’t taken time to look around this tranquil hidden gem in Whalley before. Unfortunately I only had about 20 minutes to whizz round taking photos before my bus arrived….so I will have to return and take my time. Whalley Abbey deserves a closer look.

Community woodland at Standen Hey.
Hugo finds a stick.
An old cross base.
Oak trees.

I thought the above few photos show the prettiest part of the walk. You can almost envisage the peddlers and horses & carts that wandered between Whalley and Clitheroe in days gone by.

Totem Pole in the woodland by Calderstone’s park.
Heading through the fields.
Obligatary cows.
Whalley Viaduct.
The abbey’s oldest building is The Gatehouse , it spans a narrow lane into Whalley.

The 49 red brick arches of Whalley Viaduct are a prominent feature in the village. Even these are overshadowed though by the former 14th century Cistercian abbey and it’s pretty gardens.

In 1296 Monks from the flooded Stanlow Abbey in Cheshire relocated to Whalley and work was started on building the monastery on the banks of the river Calder. It became one of the wealthiest abbey’s in the country, eventually dissolved in the reign of Henry VIII.

Below are some images of the abbey grounds. The later Elizabethan buildings are now used as a religious retreat.

It seemed that no time had passed before I had to hurry for the bus. At least I got to admire the beautiful stainless steel sculpture of Three Fishes near the bus stop. The fish possibly represent the three rivers in the area, the Calder, Hodder and Ribble.

Tudor style houses in the village.
Whose looking in my window…
Three Fishes Sculpture.

Do you have any abbey remains near you?

Back On The Tolkien Trail. πŸ§™β€β™‚οΈπŸ₯Ύ

Although I’ve posted about The Tolkien Trail on my blog before, I walked it again recently with my sister and family, and thought it worth another look. Undoubtedly this tranquil area of Lancashire inspired J. R. R. Tolkien , he often stayed here whilst visiting his son John who attended Stonyhurst College. The Lord Of The Rings author enjoyed walking in the lovely leafy Hurst Green countryside and local place names and landmarks made it into his writings.

On this occasion we followed the route starting at The Shireburn Arms , the 17th century Inn was named after the rich land owning Shireburn family. A river Shirebourn features in The Lord Of The Rings.

Hurst Green village centre.
A Tolkien quote near The Shireburn Arms.
A glorious clump of Purple Loosestrife. ❀️
Aqueduct.

Our walk very nearly got abandoned. At this point we were meant to be following the riverside but a herd of frisky cows showed too much interest in Hugo the Labrador. We made a hasty retreat up a hill and managed to rejoin the river later.

A house called ‘ Jumbles’ named after Jumbles’ rocks, pertruding stones in the river Ribble.
River depth gage.
Hugo.
Hacking Hall in the background.

The heavens kept opening ( and the sun shone too! ) as we followed the trail. To be honest the walk could really benefit from a few Lord of the Rings inspired sculptures or scribbles along the route, I reckon. Anyway above is Hacking Hall from where the Hacking Ferry boat still operated in Tolkien’s time at Stonyhurst. The ferry was possibly the inspiration for his ‘ Bucklebury Ferry’ .

This old oak is mentioned in The Woodland Trusts Ancient Tree Inventory.
Winckley Hall Farm.
Tree climbers.
Cromwell’s Bridge from Lower Hodder.

Cromwell’s Bridge over the river Hodder may have been the inspiration for Tolkien’s ‘ Brandywine’ bridge. It is named after Oliver Cromwell ,who along with his troops rode over the skinny stone structure, on their way from Gisburn to The Battle of Preston. We followed the riverside up through shady woodland past Hodder court.

Corn crops a long the Holder.
Cuckoo Pint Berry Stalks.
Windey path through the woods.
Up above.
Stepping out.

Eventually we ended up in the grounds of Stonyhurst college, though I didn’t manage to get many photos. And then back to the car parked in Hurst Green. The trail covered 6 or 7 miles in total.

Stonyhurst college grounds from behind.
Alm houses in Hurst Green.

I must confess I have never read any Tolkien, though I enjoyed watching The Lord Of The Rings films. When walking the trail you probably need to research the areas connections beforehand, as there is no signage or information on the route. Nevertheless this was an enjoyable hike around a lovely area. πŸ₯Ύ

Here is a recent post from The Bowland Climber who was in the area too.

The Tolkien Trail can be downloaded online and can be found in numerous local walk books. I used…

Walks Around Clitheroe ~ Terry Marsh.

Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve ~ August. πŸ¦‹πŸŒΌ

Melilot.

Somehow I didn’t get up to my local reserve in July, but I have had two wanders round Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve recently. Lots of wildflowers still blooming, including a couple of ‘ new to me’ ones. I also took part in the Big Butterfly Count πŸ¦‹ , there is still time to submit your sightings. 2020 has been a bumper year for people taking part apparently.

Rosebay Willowherb.
Ox- Eye Daisy.
Yarrow. Pretty in pink.
Agrimony.
Small Tortoishell on Marjoram. For me Small Tortoishells have been the butterfly of 2020. Never seen so many.
The Wintergreens are still thriving.

Field Scabious.
Carline Thistle.
Red Admiral.
On the verge.
Great Burnett.
Eyebright.
Ragwort.
Skipper.
A ruffled looking rook.
Autumn Gentian/ Felwort.

Have a lovely weekend. πŸ¦‹

Under The Railway Bridge.

I have been noticing lately how lovely a local field is looking. All-sorts of flowers have been popping up this year. Makes me wonder if someone has been scattering seeds? The plants have been absolutely buzzing with bees and grasshoppers. Meadow Brown’s , Ringlets and Skippers are flying in abundance. I’m eager to see what else will turn up over the Summer. Will keep you posted. 😘

There could be more clover than grass in the field and they smell really sweet, especially in the sunshine after a shower.

Pops of colour are certainly provided by the burnt orange blooms of the Orange Hawkweed, which is also known as Devils Paintbrush and Fox & Cubs.

I think this is a member of the Crane’s -bill family , maybe Druce’s Cranes-Bill.

Tutsan is the largest of the St John’s Wort flowering plants. I was quite surprised to find it amongst the vegetation. I like how there are both flowers and berries.

I noticed a couple of Silver Y Moths fluttering around the thistles. They are migrant moths that fly day and night and can be identified by the metallic y on each wing.

Love-in-a-mist is not a wildflower, so I’m not sure how this bloom ended up here. I love it’s delicate and intricate design.

By the brook a Yarrow peeps , it’s leaves are feathery. In the past this plant was used on bloody wounds, but sticking it up your nose causes nosebleeds apparently. πŸ™„

Skippers are seen resting on buttercups and darting from flower to flower. They are tiny butterflies, however I cannot tell whether they are the large or small species.

In the grass I spy Fairy Flax which looks like it should be in a fairies garden.

Along with ringlets there are lots of Meadow Browns in the field. They are very fond of the thistles. πŸ™‚

So that’s all for now. There are foxgloves and teasel but I will save them for another post. πŸ™‚

The Elusive Bee Orchid.

Yesterday in the scorching heat we found the elusive Bee Orchid! This one was in Cross Hill Quarry Nature Reserve in Clitheroe, which can be accessed through Brungerley park. A kind member of a local wildlife group offered to show my sister, her kids and I where it was. 😊

There are over fifty species of orchid in the UK and all are protected. Although there are much rarer orchids ,the Bee Orchid is particularly striking I think. It’s flowers resemble the insect and amerous bees can transfer pollen to them, mistaking them for another 🐝 bee.

There were plenty of insects out in the late afternoon heat yesterday. We saw lots of butterflies including meadow brown’s, skippers, ringlets, common blues, tortoishell s, red admirals, whites and comma all fluttering around the quarry.

One of many many large skipper butterflies.
An unassuming orchid found all over the quarry is the Common Twayblade. I did not even realise that these are orchids.
A beautiful Marsh Orchid.
My niece got this picture of a cute new moth ( to us) , the Latticed Heath Moth.
The only Bee Orchid ( as yet) in the reserve has three flowers.
Bee Orchid.
My niece and Yellow Loosestrife flowers.
Heron intent on tea.

As you can imagine, wandering round a quarry in the heat made us all want to dive in the river, which luckily was close by. We all went for a paddle to cool off and the above heron wasn’t bothered by our presence at all.

Have you seen any orchids this year?

Downham & Twiston Circular Walk. πŸ₯Ύ

Another blog post, another local walk. This one is from the picture perfect village of Downham, where in fact many years ago, I went to primary school. The hike is a 4 mile circular route and was a very peaceful one, we saw only one other person out walking until we arrived back in the village at the end for an ice cream. 😊

We set off from the large car park in Downham, following the brook down through the village. You may recognize Downham from the TV series Born and Bred which was filmed here.

A stone bridge over the brook.
All the cottages in the village are owned by Lord Clitheroe’s estate, so the whole village is tenanted.
There are quite a few Stiles and kissing gates on the walk.
A brood of ducklings. πŸ™‚
We head uphill through farmland and find a well placed bench.
Some locals are keen to see us off though.
A pretty wildflower meadow. 🌼
Hugo cooling off in Twiston Beck.
Twiston Mill Pond, though we couldn’t see the pond for the reeds!
Heading past Twiston Mill , which was a busy cotton mill in the past.
Old squeeze style replaced by gate.
You can continue here to Downham Mill, but our route took us elsewhere. I would like to do this walk though too.
The walk carried on past a couple of farms. Here’s a view of Pendle.
Dog Roses and Elderflowers.
Cows grazing as we approach Downham again.
On a rocky outcrop above the village , a 🐝 on mother of thyme.
And Biting Yellow Stonecrop.
Back into Downham. The cottages are stunning and no overhead cables or satellite dishes in sight.
Picture postcard perfect.
The Assheton Arms, Downham’s lovely pub. A couple of days after our walk we heard that the company who owns it has gone into administration, so not sure about it’s future. 😦
Downham pre school, which once upon a time used to be my primary school.
Hugo waiting for ice cream.

We ended our walk at the little ice cream shop on Hare Green, which also sells brews, cakes and sandwiches.

I downloaded this route here. πŸ₯Ύ

Clitheroe, Pendleton & Worston Walk.

Recent times have given me opportunity to explore new walks in my local area and also revisit places from my past. Although I live in a small market town, I grew up in the countryside. Of course at 17 I was only to happy to move away to ‘the big City’ , that’s what Clitheroe felt like to a country bumpkin like me back then. πŸ™‚ I will never forget my farming roots though , as much as I love living somewhere with shops, pubs and friends, I do still feel at home clomping round the fields.

This is a walk from Clitheroe, through the pretty village of Pendleton, passing the farm I grew up on at the foot of Pendle Hill and taking in the small village of Worston. Most of the route has featured on my blog before at various times, but there’s usually something new to spot.

A woodland path past Standen Hall.
After crossing the A59 we walk into Pendleton. Lots of old cottages here.
And a pub called The Swan With Two Necks which is currently selling take way ales.
Pendleton is called ‘ Peniltune’ in the Domesday book.
Love this bright red gate. ❀️
Time to cross the road.
Heading through one of the farms in the hamlet of Mearley.
A sign for a new ( ish ) holiday let in Mearley.
Sunbathing cows.
Knowle Top farm looking down over Mearley.
Hugo and stick.
Mearley.
Little Mearley Hall where I grew up, at the foot of Pendle Hill.
Worsaw Hill in the distance.
Orange Hawkweed aka Fox & Cubs ,on the grass verges.
Interesting gate sign in Worston village.
Pendle Hill from Worston.
Rockery garden in Worston.
Honesty box eggs.
My first photo of a hare!
Little & Large. ❀️

Thanks for joining us on another local stroll.

Salthill Quarry Nature Reserve ~ June.

So I returned as promised to Salthill Nature Reserve in Clitheroe to look for the elusive Bee Orchid. There was a photo of one on a local wildlife group, but could I find it? Well nope! However there was still plenty to see and it was nice to wander round the reserve.

There were lots of Speckled Woods in the woodland areas.
And scented Dog Roses adorned the pathways.
The poisonous Cuckoo Pints green berry stalks cover the woodland floor.
The Common Blues looked vividly blue.
Honey scented flowers of Agrimony were once added to mead.
This rabbit sat and watched me from a woodland clearing.
A new wild flower sighting for me ~ Round leaved Wintergreen. The leaves remain evergreen through winter.
I saw a few Brown Ringlets.
Common spotted orchid.

I snuck into a gated off meadow which might not have been part of the reserve. Whoops! There were vast amounts of ox-eye daisies in there which were buzzing with bees and small dragonflies.

Daisy fest. 🌼
Small tortoishell on daisy.
And on bramble blossom.
Red Clover. This one looks particularly vibrant.
I didn’t have a clue what this was! I thought it may be some rarity, but then someone told me it was a cowslip gone to seed. 😜
Small tortoishell on wild thyme.
Cinnabar Moth.
I always get my Cinnabar’s and Six spotted Burnet’s mixed up. I should just count the spots. 😊

So despite not coming across the bee orchid, it was a successful visit. Have you visited a nature reserve recently?

To The Sea.

I have been craving ‘ a sea fix ‘ for some time now. Today was finally the day that I got my fix. We headed to Heysham on the Lancashire coast and parked at Heysham Nature Reserve behind the power station. After typing Heysham Nature Reserve into Google maps it told me that we had visited the reserve two years ago. Scary that it remembered. 😜

Heysham Nature Reserve is still open , however the car park and facilities are currently closed. We managed to find a spot near the entrance and Hugo had an off lead wander. At some point we ended up on the rocky shore in front of the power station. Un surprisingly it was easy to social distance beside a nuclear power station. 😊

We walked as far as the striking rust coloured South Pier lighthouse and retraced our steps back to the car.

Rocky shore.
Behind the power station.
Yellow Rattle.
Greater Knapweed.
Hugo inspects the thin strip of beach.
Sea & sky.
Lesser black backed Gull.
South Pier Lighthouse selfie.
South Pier Lighthouse.
Oyster catchers brunch time.

It was around 11-30 and already cracking the flags at nearby Half Moon Bay when we parked the car on the small car park there. In fact it was getting a bit too hot for Hugo. After a short walk along the cliffs as far as the St Patrick’s chapel remains, we called it a day. Looking back on my post from two years ago, we had a hot weather visit then too! No beautiful new sculptures at that time though. Fab to see the recent editions. 😊

Oyster catcher sculpture.
Half Moon Bay.
Ship Sculpture looking over Half Moon Bay.
Ship Sculpture.
My first ever sighting of a Whitethroat. πŸ™‚
St Patrick’s Chapel.
Rock cut coffin graves.

Goodbye beautiful Lancashire coast. Until next time. ❀️