Monday, 29 October 2007

The Ribble Way Part 6: From Gisburn to Chatburn - Access Please!

The next stage of our Ribble Way adventures take access issues to a whole new level. This is the section which was scandalously closed several years ago as the landowners decided they wanted us common folk to get orf their land. As a result, ordinary people are being excluded from a truly beautiful section of the River Ribble - a section which was open to all until that point.


We begin our day on The Ribble Way at Gisburn, where we left off the previous week, and the day is overcast and very hazy - long-distance views are romantically misty rather than sharp and clear - but it's warm and dry so a good day is promised for Ribbling once again!



After walking roughly north-westwards along Mill Lane from Gisburn for a few minutes, the Ribble Way moves back off the road below Coppy Hill. We were immediately met with one of the most unexpected forms of wildlife - Llamas!! The girls had a closer look but we all made sure we stayed more than spitting distance away...


...then we carried on through Coppice Farm...


and Higher Laithe and Wheatley...


...where the cows were curious but friendly!

As we emerged onto New Laithe the landscape opened out before us, the woodlands and hills through which the River Ribble wends its way are truly stunning, even in such misty conditions...



Here at New Laithe we spot a stile down to the River so decide to take a short detour...


...which was truly worthwhile, the Ribble passing through beautiful autumnal woodlands all along this stretch...
...and passing over mossy rocks and stones on its way...


...and we even catch the vibrant electric-blue flash of a Kingfisher flying swiftly downstream.

We decide to walk along the riverbank through the woods for as far as we can get, and there are some gorgeous trees along here...


...as well as diverse plants species thriving in this wet woodland...


...including a number of interesting funghi...


... although by far the most noticeable plant species are the various forms of lichen covering the trees...


...and the thick, rich mosses covering every possible space...


...in all sorts of strange forms!



There are also a number of other plant species thriving in the Ribble woodlands here, including Wood Sorrel...


...its bright, slightly hairy leaves as beautiful to see as the delicate pink flowers which appear in the Spring.



We climb back up away from the River and follow the Ribble Way once more as it continues along towards Steep Wood and Sawley, the sun shining more strongly now even though the haze is still lingering...


...and it's a comfortably warm day too so we enjoy it while we can!


Walking the Ribble Way from Wheatley down towards Steep Wood.
Once we reach Steep Wood, however, our enjoyment is somewhat blighted by the diversion away from the Ribble Way's true course for the rest of today's adventures.


Now we are forced away from the River Ribble, Cold Park Wood, Hartsails and Brownthwaite - right through to beyond Sawley Lodge, where we are once more "allowed" back onto the Ribble Way proper.

Of course, to make sure that we plebians stay orf their land, the conservation-conscious (not!) landowner has felled dozens of trees to block any attempts to continue through to Hartsails along the Ribble's banks...



So before we have to leave, we spend a while by the River Ribble, soaking up this peaceful, beautiful place...


...and Darren even walks to the centre of the river (well, it IS a ford here at Steep Wood!) so I give him the camera and he takes a couple of gorgeous shots upriver...


...and down, towards "the forbidden forest".
We eventually set off once more, forced to take the diversion up through Steep Wood...


...and it is VERY steep!!! It is quite a climb but there are steps easing the climb most of the way, and the woods themselves are interesting with the layers of bare rock which make this steep hill seen between the trees.



At the top of Steep Wood at Long Home Row, creaky dogs (and human backs) are tested once again as we have to lift the dog over yet another stile (although these sort are at least a million times easier to climb with dog-in-arms than the high up and over wall-ladder types).


There are a number of attractive autumnal trees up here on the hill...




...and a number of rather interesting plants and funghi - and no, we didn't pick any!


There are still good populations of insects busying themselves with the late flowering species...


...and beautiful scarlet rosehips and other berries decorating the hedgerows...


...and we pass Lesser Stirchwort...


...and Yarrow brightening the grasses...


...and up at Gisburn Cotes there is a lovely wild pond surrounded by many plants including Teasel, but even more unexpectedly...


Gisburn Henge!!!

The views from up above the Ribble floodplain are beautiful, even with the mist which doesn't really disappear all day...




Pendle Hill continues to mark our journey, as mysterious and imposing as ever.

After we reach Huggan Ing, just after Gisburn Cotes Hall, we take a diversion along the public footpath past Dockber Laithe down to the River Ribble at Hartsails to see if we can find a good place to stop for lunch - and reclaim a small portion of the Ribble if we can!



The girls can barely contain themselves at the thought of getting back down to the River Ribble-

- or was it just that it was time for lunch?!



But we didn't expect to be taking our lives in our hands as the public footpath, clearly marked on our map from Huggan Ing and Dockber Laithe to the River Ribble at Hartsails, has been converted into a scramble track and we had to run for safety as the bikes flew over the top of the slope and onto the area where the footpath should be and it was clearly too dangerous to stay on the path.

We walked instead in a westerly direction along the riverbank a few hundred yards...


...and as soon as we found a good spot well away from the line of the scramble track, which continues along the side of the river for a way, we settled ourselves on the bank just west of the fantastic craggy cliffs which rise from the Ribble at Bolton Hall Farm...


...where Muddy immediately re-introduces herself to the Ribble, while we munch our way through our sandwiches and flapjacks and enjoy the sounds of the Ribble's waters running by and the birds teittering in the beautiful Ribbleside woodland trees -


- although there are a number of regular interruptions to the tranquillity as the scramblers continue to enjoy themselves churning up the public footpath and riverside slopes.

After our picnic, we decide that we don't really want to run the gauntlet of motorbikes on the footpath back up to rejoin the diverted Ribble Way at Huggan Ing, but will walk west along the River Ribble as far as we can get...


...and a beautiful walk it is too, and we are re-annoyed about being excluded from this section of the River Ribble by the whims of landowners - and after only a few minutes we are greeted with the real in-yer-face evidence of this exclusion as we reach Hartsails Wood and the section to Sawley Lodge itself...


...and this time there is an impenetrable gate and deer fence so no chance of continuing any further on our way along the River Ribble, so we follow the line of the fence along to the east and south and climb a very steep hill indeed at the south-east corner of Hartsails Wood...


...which leaves us rather out of breath but able to admire the fabulous views of the Ribbleside woodlands, and the River Ribble's glorious valley, here looking towards Bolton-by-Bowland...



- although by the time we get to the top of the climb away from the River Ribble and Hartsails Wood, Carol decides the best view can be found by having a lie down for a few minutes...



We rejoin the Ribble Way here at New Laithe - a different New Laithe to the one we walked through earlier in the day - this second one roughly half way between Huggan Ing and Sawley Lodge, walking towards Sawley now and we eventually arrive at Sawley Lodge...


...and the end of the diversion away from the River Ribble between Sawley Lodge and Steep Wood.

We have only one thing to say to this enforced diversion - ACCESS PLEASE!!!

Back at the Ribble once more, the locals are unperturbed by the ban, free to make their way up and down the River Ribble past Sawley Lodge and through Cold Park Wood to Steep Wood as much as they please!



We stop for a while to admire the ducks and the views along the peaceful Ribble twards Sawley Bridge...



...and decide to take a voluntary diversion and have a look around at Sawley Abbey...



...before setting off on the Ribble Way towards Chatburn, here crossing Sawley Bridge...



...where the sunlight still manages to glint on the River Ribble's shining waters...

...and then walking downriver along the banks of the Ribble, vibrant with Shasta Daisies...



...and buttercups...



...and oxeye daisies...


...all of which seem to literally glow in the misty air...


...and Pendle Hill, as ever, forms a beautiful and enigmatic companion on our journey.

After walking along the road through Bank Bottom, Bank Top, and Foxley Bank, just west of Sawley, we turn south onto green fields falling gently back down to the river...


...passing Shaun the Sheep...


...and Shauna the Sheep, on our way!

Here below Foxley Bank at Fields House the Ribble Way rejoins the River Ribble once more, and the rest of our journey takes us across a beautiful misty landscape as dusk is falling...



...and we pass a number of other Ribblesiders out Ribbling.

The Ribble Way follows a flood defence bank some of the way from Fields House towards the Riverside Mill above Chatburn, and when we climb down to the River itself just above Chatburn, we can see the erosion the river is causing to the banks along here...



The light is fading fast now, and the sun is a hazy gold through the thickening autumn mist as it reflects itself in the gentle, clear waters of the River Ribble as it flows on its way...



...but it doesn't stop Hattie and Rachel taking the time to watch the fish rising...


...from the huge stone ramparts which were intended to protect the banks from being washed away by the Ribble's waters, but which have been left as a solitary causeway almost across a part of the river itself - but providing a great vantage point from which to watch the fish!



At last we reach Chatburn Bridge - just in time to see a Dipper emerge from the water and dart beneath us and the early bats flitting across the Ribble beneath the trees, but they are all far too quick to catch on camera!

Next time our adventures on The Ribble Way will take us from Chatburn to Mitton Bridge - snaking immediately alongside the River Ribble for most of the journey: just the way we Ribblesiders like it!

In the meantime, the Rambler's Association have a petition campaigning for this week's section - from Sawley Lodge to Steep Wood - to be re-opened, but getting hold of the petition to sign it may be difficult unless you know a Rambler near you!

However, Lancashire County Council are also attempting to get this section of the Ribble Way re-opened under a Creation Order and the Hyndburn Ramblers are urging everyone to write to the Chief Executive, Lancashire County Council, County Hall, Fishergate, Preston PR1 8XJ expressing your support for the Creation Order and your desire to see this path open again to all walkers. If you walked the path before it was lost, or if you led a walk along this riverbank, or if you want to walk along this riverbank again, or you just want to walk it for the first time then please write and tell LCC's Chief Exec. The more letters received the better. This is a campaign that everyone can join in and support.

See the side bar for more of our adventures Walking The Ribble Way.

You can contact me at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

2 comments:

Riversider said...

Great post, yet again.

In France all riverbanks are public rights of way - the landowners cannot restrict people's rights of access.

Something to do with 1789 I think.

Reigh Belisama said...

thanks for this Riversider, the issue of access is a really important one - and now we supposedly have the "right to roam", one hopes that the "open access" which is currently allowed will be extended to include all riverbanks. The right to roam Act is an important step in the right direction, but since the Enclosure Acts, ordinary people have been prevented from roaming whither they will in their own country. Rivers belong to all of us and we should all have the right to explore them. I appreciate and respect Riparian Rights issues, but we walkers aren't after the fish, we just want to be able to enjoy our rivers and banksides!