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The Bowland Fells / 4 days / 64 miles (103km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 03 Aug 2003
Start / Finish: Waddington.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 41 Forest of Bowland and Pathfinder 680 Longridge.

Day 1Longridge Fell & Fairsnape Fell18 miles / 3100 feet (29.0km / 944m)
Day 2Fiendsdale & Wards Stone15 miles / 2280 feet (24.2km / 694m)
Day 3Wolfhole Crag & White Hill13 miles / 1450 feet (20.9km / 441m)
Day 4Whelpstone Crag & Easington Fell18 miles / 1820 feet (29.0km / 554m)

Bowland is a region that we have passed and noticed many times but never visited. It has no 2000' mountains but no less than five Marilyns, and we designed a tour to climb them and take in the most notable paths. After several iterations we decided that some backtracking would be necessary on the main ridge to avoid unnatural and circuitous lines, and that Longridge and Easington Fells would require some tedious field and road rambling across the valleys to tie them in. We settled on this route. Good weather was forecast a few days before the glorious 12th., an ideal opportunity.

Day 1 - Longridge Fell & Fairsnape Fell

From Waddington a lane leads SW to Bashall Town and a bridleway S to Withgill Farm and a road. A footpath heads NW to Higher Hodder Bridge where a riverside path gives pleasant walking to 700400 and a flight of wide wooden steps. Following this path SW around Stonyhurst College to Hurst Green 683383, we followed a path NW along the attractive Dean Brook and then the bridleway to the road at the base of Longridge Fell, where the path to the summit starts at 656395. This gains the ridge at the permitted path to the trig point 350m, marked Spire Hill, which gives a good view to the next objectives across the valley.

The Hodder
The Hodder (03 Aug 2003__09:19:12)
Longridge Fell
Longridge Fell (03 Aug 2003__12:53:50)

Following minor roads and footpaths to Chipping, we bought water at the Post Office shop (open 7 days a week) and continued up the lane NW to Fish House and Fell Foot, clearly a popular spot for walkers and glider enthusiasts. After a cruelly steep ascent of Parlick in the heat with all our supplies, there was easy walking to the trig point and cairn on the fell edge which gives the best views, then a less distinct path NE through the peaty wastes to Fairsnape Fell summit 520m. Our only encounter for the next 3 days would be just one solitary fell runner.

Cairn on Fairsnape Fell
Cairn on Fairsnape Fell (03 Aug 2003__17:17:23)

Day 2 - Fiendsdale & Wards Stone

A path heads NW to the access notice at Fiendsdale Head and the public footpath. Heading NNE across a marshy area a very good path emerges at the head of the steep sided valley. This was a real highlight, giving great views high above Fiendsdale Water before descending to Langden Brook where we collected good water, then the valley track that leads to the Trough of Bowland road. The first thing we spotted in the distance was an isolated litter bin by the road, an acquired talent (one funny side of backpacking and shedding weight - there can't be an awful lot of people whose eyes light up at the sight of a bin). We took the option of road hiking round to the access point at Tower Lodge, the best of a bad logistical bunch and hardly any traffic.

Fiendsdale (04 Aug 2003__07:32:30)
Fiendsdale (04 Aug 2003__07:40:21)
Fiendsdale (04 Aug 2003__08:18:36)
Lower Fiendsdale
Lower Fiendsdale (04 Aug 2003__09:26:11)

Climbing N to White Moor the path then turns W and descends to Gilberton where the Tarnbrook access track is joined. We collected good water from a small stream alongside the track about half way up, and after Hare Syke workmen were extending the track and had almost reached the ridge, making the walking very easy. This part of the ridge was a lot more peaty than envisaged but the biggest surprise was the gulls - huge numbers of them dotted all over the moor and making a terrific noise. An easy walk W by the ridge wall leads to Ward's Stone trig point 561m. We walked to the second trig point on the W side 1m lower that gives good views seaward, then returned to the point marked Grey Crag on the map where soft grass made a good pitch (notwithstanding the noisy gulls).

Tarnbrook Fell
Tarnbrook Fell (04 Aug 2003__13:40:45)
Wards Stone ridge & Yorkshire Fells
Wards Stone ridge & Yorkshire Fells (04 Aug 2003__14:10:16)
Wards Stone W top
Wards Stone W top (04 Aug 2003__16:13:06)

Day 3 - Wolfhole Crag & White Hill

A peaty walk E leads to the lower but more satisfying bouldery top of Wolfhole Crag and even more gulls. The ridge path crosses a fence at 642577 but there is no stile or waymark, and in a lapse of concentration we missed it and reached White Crag before realising our error. White Crag is a rocky outcrop covered in guano, hence the name?. There was even a pair of Canada geese here. Heading NE we collected water below Greenhole Spring and ascended to the Hornby Road track to begin the traverse of White Hill. This is a case of following the fence all the way over ground which is a bit tussocky in places and has its' share of peat groughs to cross but not bad at all. The summit 544m has a trig point and is flanked by 2 small stone towers some distance away but is otherwise unremarkable.

Wolfhole Crag
Wolfhole Crag (05 Aug 2003__07:51:52)
Wolfhole Crag
Wolfhole Crag (05 Aug 2003__07:54:53)
View from approach to White Hill
View from approach to White Hill (05 Aug 2003__10:36:18)
White Hill
White Hill (05 Aug 2003__11:58:53)

The fence continues NNE in the same vein to the road at 683608 and climbs E to Crowd Stones, where the views N to the Yorkshire Fells are great. Approaching Raven's Castle we crossed the fence to the N side just before it becomes a wall, where a good worn grassy vehicle track takes over and persists all the way to the eastern forest, first descending past Cold Stone then climbing to Knottend where a short diversion S over the wall is needed to gain the trig point. Crossing another road the track marches on past rocky outcrops to the forest corner at 744609 then disappears, but a thin line through the now heathery ground ends in a steep descent to the stream of Ash Clough Swamp. The water in this is dark brown and tastes awful, but on the R of the fence it flows down the middle of a clearing at the forest edge. Walking along the R edge of this clearing we came first to a trickle of water and a few yards later a strongly flowing streamlet of superb cold clear water coming down from the forest. We then ascended out of the clough and turned L to the grassy hump of White Swan which made a fine pitch with views N to Ingleborough.

White Hill & Ravens Castle from Knottend
White Hill & Ravens Castle from Knottend (05 Aug 2003__15:44:51)
Yorkshire Fells from Knottend
Yorkshire Fells from Knottend (05 Aug 2003__15:45:12)

Day 4 - Whelpstone Crag & Easington Fell

Continuing along the forest edge (now felled on the E side) we reached the Resting Stone at the corner and turned S. Crossing a wide and very wet marshy area we continued along the edges and veered L around 760596 to gain the first prominent rocky rise that leads round to the trig point on Whelpstone Crag via a gap in a wall.

Dawn sky from pitch on White Swan
Dawn sky from pitch on White Swan (06 Aug 2003__05:54:39)
Whelpstone Crag
Whelpstone Crag (06 Aug 2003__08:07:25)

Moving S and entering the forest at 760585 at a stile, the half-expected battle with the marked paths and tracks began; these are rough directions from memory for our route SW to Stocks reservoir, there may be better ones. The boggy footpath runs SSE and joins a forest road, we turned R along this to a T-junction then R again. The road curves round NE where a side track leads back sharp L to Hindley Head house and a waymarked ladder stile pointing down a forest ride. This leads to a forest road where we turned L and passed to the L of Hesbert Hall to arrive at a track junction at 755569. Here we turned R (SW) on a road signed by 3 coloured cycle route waymarks which bends around N then loops S to arrive at Stephen Park. Just before the buildings, waymarks point L which lead around the triangular clearing to a road where we turned L and reached the lane at 742551. Turning R to the isolated church we followed the footpath SW above the reservoir (only briefly visible) to Slaidburn (public toilets).

A footpath leads SSE from the B6478 to Skelshaw where careful mapwork saw us emerge on the farm track to Fell Side and the track that climbs around the open fell. We followed this to the cross-track at 722484 (note the OS map error here - the spot height 256 should be 356) and walked E to the wall where a tractor track leads NE to the flat grassy summit of Easington Fell 396m (in hindsight it would have been easier to strike out directly for the top after crossing the head of Skelshaw Brook). From here the 395m trig point about a mile away SW looks higher, presumably an illusion and not another map error. Returning to the cross-track we followed it along the forest edge and turned R to the Moor Lane track, then the footpath via Feazer Farm and the woodland edge that leads S to Waddington.