This was a walk for ‘Plodders’ – those folk in the East Lancs LDWA group who are not intent on rushing about like the more ‘hard core’ members. Accordingly, a leisurely start is appropriate, and it being my turn to drive, Rick and his neighbour, Pete, called round at 9.30 for the slow pootle up to Barnoldswick, where 11 relaxed souls and a Maude assembled at Letcliffe Park in plenty of time for the 11 o’clock start.
But Stuart was still missing. He is hampered by having to care for an elderly mother, and as his Jeep clattered over the speed bumps the rest of us scattered to avoid the debris. ‘Dakar’ had been reached; Stuart slewed to a halt and joined the party. I think Rick and I were probably pleased not to have been chauffeured by him today!
However, it was to be a short walk, so there was no particular rush, and Reg had inserted a number of jinks and stiles into the route, so anyone venturing to depose him as leader soon got their comeuppance by either taking the wrong path or having to wait at a stile for all twelve of us and Maude to negotiate the obstacle. Younger readers may not appreciate the time it takes 12 old codgers and a lumpy dog to get over a stile, or even through a gate!
The jinks in the path and the waiting at stiles allowed most of us to retain our breath despite the gradient, which we hadn’t really noticed until we looked back down to Barnoldswick (pronounced ‘Barlick’) from this row of cottages off Folly Lane.
An ordinary row of cottages, perhaps, but one appeared to be the residence of an ex-VW Beetle owner, and another is clearly home to a sculptor.
The sculptures were really quite impressive when viewed from our onward path.
After wandering from Star Hall, along the Pendle Way, to Weets House, Reg, our indefatiguable leader, declared that due to a plague of flies on the summit of Weets Hill, we would stop for lunch here. After all, it was 12.15….
I wouldn’t say there were ‘no flies’ just here, but there weren’t many small flies, and the big hovery ones didn’t seem to like Reg’s aftershave, so we enjoyed a very pleasant and well earned break. (I’ve meticulously eliminated all the flies from the above picture, by the way, pixel by pixel – it took ages!)
Plodding on up to the summit, we found several bundles of writhing wasps. In the middle of each bundle was a big wasp, a queen. That’s probably enough of a clue as to what was going on…
Just below the trig point, the view towards Ingleborough and the Lake District required imagination through the haze, so Rick and Terry studied something closer.
The plaque reads:
‘In memory. Mabel Emsley. 1907 – 1994. Died aged 87 years. If love could of kept us all together. You’d of been with us forever and ever. Godbless.’
The flowers of Lancashire are blooming well at present. Hereabouts the ling is coming into flower, tormentil is going strong, and there’s lots of St John’s wort, white clover, thistles, foxgloves, harebells, buttercups, brambles, campions, and many more, including this striking Yellow Loosestrife.
Down the Pennine Bridleway track from Jenny Wren’s bench (who was she?), and across the road from the Loosestrife, Lane Side Farm, clearly lovingly renovated, gained John’s attention. Or was he doing something else?
Across the road from a verge of betony, bales littered a field that had recently been mown, their black dots seemingly stretching towards the horizon on this humid day.
Here’s the betony – the haze didn’t get in the way of that.
As we neared the conclusion of the walk back at Letcliffe Park, we wandered gently through pleasant lanes, but it was a struggle to keep up with all these badges that were tearing up the metres and landing me with double vision and a breathless limp.
Well! Perhaps not! It was all Reg’s fault. He had decreed that everyone should proceed in military style along the lane. Most do actually appear to be in time!
Before the turn into the park past mansions presumably built for the local mill owners, Bancroft Shed*, an old engine house, was encountered. It was shut today but seems to be open on Sundays. Worth a visit, perhaps.
The walk took a little over three hours – a very leisurely affair, in good company and over interesting terrain. Weets Hill, though modest in stature, would be a fine viewpoint on a clear day.
Here’s our route, but you don’t really have to stick to it – there are lots of options around here, and for a slightly longer outing you could head to the north of Barnoldswick and return to the Park via the canal. Our route was about 10 km in length, with around 300 metres ascent.
Thanks to Reg and the other ‘Plodders’ who contrived to make this stroll so pleasurable, and to Pendle Heritage Centre’s excellent café in Barrowford for the splendid cake and tea that many of us enjoyed on the way home.
‘The engine fascinated me. If ever there was an example of pure, concentrated engineering, a working steam engine has to come somewhere near it. It embodied all the laws of thermodynamics, gas theory and mechanics. It was, on the surface, so simple and yet the more you studied it the more complicated it became. Imagine peeling an onion and on each succeeding skin you find writing, by layer three you are the stage of ‘Gone With the Wind’, a couple of layers later you are on a complete copy of the Bible and shortly after that you are expecting the complete ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’! I remember reading a report once of the retirement speech of one of the great railway Chief Engineers, he said it was a pity he was retiring because after 50 years in the job he felt he was on the verge of understanding the simple slide valve! I think I know what he meant. I’m sure this applies to many more situations in life, if not all, but the steam engine brings it home to you very forcibly.’