Lots and lots to do

Climbing the slippy hill Climbing the steps Gathering at the start Lovely line of ladies (and one man!) Sweetie time! Where's that heron?
Tuesday May 17th. Out and about at Outwood. 5 mile evening stroll. 27 walkers, 4 dogs.

Asda car park in Radcliffe was the meeting place for this evening stroll. It is just a few yards to the Irwell Valley Trail and we were off over the river and into the woods. The paths were wide and clear for some time and we meandered through the woods. It had been planned that this walk coincided with the bluebells flowering but the early warm weather meant that we missed them. It was still a delight though, we were given lots of information about the area by the first time leaders Jackie and Lucy, well done to them.

I'm not exactly sure where we went but we arrived at Giant's Seat Garden Centre and then had some fun crossing a steep valley in the woods which was quite challenging, well done to Kathy who helped many up the hill with the aid of a walking pole! We also passed Peter's dream garage block, six garages all belonging to just one huge unfinished house which had the works; basement, swimming pool, etc etc.

There was time for a sweetie stop, thanks again to Jackie and Lucy, and all too soon we were back on the Irwell Valley Trail and returning to Asda. Some went on to a pub, I took Maude home for a bath!


Wednesday May 18th. Bowland Round Part 1. Caton to Garstang. 17 miles.

The Bowland Round is an old circular route of around 80 miles, which the East Lancs LDWA is completing in 6 sections over a series of Wednesdays.

Nineteen of us, including one or two relatively new recruits, embarked on part 1 of the route, from Caton to Garstang on a day without rain (yay!). Once everybody had managed to find the meeting point, we got on the coach to Caton and headed off.

The route took us along the delightful wooded valley of the Lune, redolent with the scent of wild garlic and the last vestiges of the season’s bluebells. Then it was into Lancaster with views of the castle, bird life on the tidal mudflats, and millennium bridge before heading coastwards to pick up the Breath of Fresh Air route. At Condor Green we paused for a break whilst admiring our leader Norman’s picture on the information board on the wall of the public conveniences (which it is felt should be made a listed building in his honour)

Norman delivered a consignment of Breath of Fresh Air pamphlets to the Stork and kindly signed copies for an enraptured crowd. Then it was on along the Glasson arm of the Lancaster canal for a short stretch, over to Thurnham Hall and Cockerham before rejoining the Lancaster canal as far as Cabus.

Part 1 was a lovely route with lots of extra highlights, including the Fairfield community orchard, some cute baby alpacas (yes I did Google alpacas – they are a member of the Camelid group which also includes llamas, guanacos and vicunas, so now you know!), a pair of reindeer in a field, and hares and herons along the way.

A super day from start to finish. Many thanks to the organisers.

Barbara Shelton

Wednesday May 25th. Bittern Bash. 15 miles from Warton.

On the tenth stroke of St Oswald’s church clock Norman dramatically led the nine lucky walkers out of the car park and up to Warton Crag. Within a few minutes we were on the highest point of the walk (168 metres) and looking across the Kent Estuary and the countryside that lay ahead. If ever an area fully deserves the accolade of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this is it, for it has loveliness in spades. No matter that we went round in circles at first, because we enjoyed the vista from all angles, and, to be fair, the views were dizzying in the fine weather, the paths mazy and mesmerizing, and the map possibly upside down. We found our way from the Rocking Stones through the limestone strewn woods of the Nature Reserve before stopping for a break at the majestic viewpoint at Summer House Hill overlooking Leighton Hall.

We made our way to the right of the Hall which looked stately and serene before the visitors arrived, and skirted Hawes Water and Gait Barrows where Norman introduced his Bittern Challenge - one whole pound to anyone spotting this secretive reed bed skulking bird or hearing its distinctive booming call. So fast did he lead us past their territory that it was clear that Honest Norman wanted the pound to remain in his pocket. Many tried to fool him but it was a case of ‘once bittern twice shy’. From there we headed for Arnside, walking up into Red Hills Wood where we steered our course by a helpful memory stick left on the recce, and carried on up to the summit of Arnside Knott where we stopped for lunch. By the way this is Marilyn 1554, the lowest Marilyn in England, but without doubt there is no other small hill in England with such a spellbinding view of hills upon hills, and high fells fading into mountains.

We then descended towards Silverdale, a favourite of the cream of Manchester since 1860 when Henry Boddington bought a house at the Cove. Near this spot Norman introduced a new sport - coasteering. This meant hugging the shoreline for some time, walking on rocks and soft sand, but fortunately the tide was out. You can’t get lost this way, apart from at sea. From there we headed for refreshments at the Wolf House Gallery, passing through the delightfully named Bottom’s Wood. The route then took us past Gibraltar Farm where Elizabeth Gaskell once stayed and wrote her novels in Lindeth Tower, past Jack Scout, and then more coasteering on the salt washed turf round Jenny Brown’s Point. (It is said that Jenny Brown was a nanny who was drowned whilst saving her charges from the rising tide.)

After a short road section we turned left at Crag Foot before heading across fields to the Coach Road which took us back to our starting point in Warton. Adjacent to the car park is a pub called the George Washington, which commemorates the former US President’s Warton associations, and the reason why the stars and stripes are flown on the church tower every July 4th. Most of us ventured in to find out more, but like the man himself, I cannot tell a lie, and as soon as we sat down with a pint it completely slipped our mind.

Thanks to Norman and everyone for a very enjoyable days walking. Apparently the average attendance for this walk in the past is 10. Don’t miss it next year.

Ken and Jacqui
Climbing Arnside Knott Coasteering Coasteering again! Group at Warton Crag Let the children play... on the Bowland Round Lunch at the Knott Morning coffee New friends on the Bowland Round Norman holds the beacon up Which way?