Monday, 21 May 2007

16. Lavenham - Stowmarket

Details:- After being dropped off by Denise in Lavenham at 9.00am on a sunny Saturday, I walked the country lanes between Lavenham and Stowmarket, arriving back by train in time to catch the Cup Final. I might as well have kept walking - the match was rubbish! Distance:- 15 miles; Going;- Easy peasy - only some of the cars drive a bit close, when I am hoping to be given a wider by-pass. Progress:- Walked 183 - 317 to go. Photographs Hyperlink.

South Suffolk......

.......where since Hereward was awake, the medieval streets have given onto the open countryside.

South Suffolk....

...where since Edmund became the patron saint of hedgehogs, the oak timbers have acquired a lovely silvery hue with the passage of the centuries.

South Suffolk....

....where since Pontius was a pilot time seems to have stood still, and the years roll back as the countryside rolls over.

South Suffolk...

...where since Edward was a confessor, folk have lived off the fat of the land.....

.....but still don't have the time to sort the flat of the Land Rover.

South Suffolk....

....where since Constable squeezed hay-wain yellow over his palette, the fields of barley have conducted themselves in an endless Mexican wave.

Henry Ford might have well said history is bunk, but my guess is he never went to South Suffolk!

Friday, 18 May 2007

15. Stonyhurst, Lancashire.

Details:- This was a Sunday afternoon stroll, all mellowed out after a good lunch. The walk started at Stonyhurst College and took me down to the River Ribble, along the river bank of both the Ribble and its tributary the Hodder, past Cromwell's bridge, and back up to the college. Distance:- 7 miles; Going:- it drizzled, but was easy to walk. Progress:- Walked 168 - to go 332.

Stonyhurst College.

The approach down the mile long Avenue is impressive. This huge collection of interconnecting buildings are Grade 1 listed as of architectural/historic interest. Only 2% of listed buildings are Grade 1, so this then is one of Lancashire's finest.

From The Air....

showing something more of the size and scale. St Peters church at bottom right hand corner can accommodate 600 or so pupils at mass on a Sunday morning.

The Upper Corridor.

In the 1970's many of the college's Durer engravings were hung on these walls. After some eight or so Rembrandts were stolen in the early 1980's the Society of Jesus was forced to be a little more circumspect with its possessions!

Cromwell's Bridge.

No longer in use, Cromwell's Bridge once carried a packhorse trail over the River Hodder, about a mile from its confluence with the Ribble. It earned its name after Oliver Cromwell's parliamentary army crossed the bridge on their way from Gisburn to where they fought the King's men in the Battle of Preston. There is in the refectory at the college a long table with an inscription under it to the effect of: 'Cromwell slept 'Ere'. What provenance there is for this is a little unclear.

The River Hodder....

....drains much of the Forest of Bowland, and the upper reaches also feed the large Stocks Reservoir which supplies much of Lancashire with its water. The School still owns much of the farming land around the lower reaches, together with the fishing rights. In this river I once managed to tickle a young trout out from under his stone - but that was many years ago!

14. Hurst Green, Nr. Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Details:- Another Walking World walk; as always scenic, and with mainly clear and reasonably concise instructions. At one point the directions were muddled when by luck I took the right path. It is a relief to have good guidance when out walking; otherwise losing your way (but rarely lost) deprives my day of its relaxation. This walk climbs up Longridge Fell, from the top of which there are excellent views of the Ribble Valley and Pendle Hill. It then drops down to the hamlet of Walker Fold and finishes past the front and through the grounds of the Jesuit public school Stonyhurst College. Distance:- 7 miles; Going:- Height gain 200 metres, but not as you'd particularly notice. The huff/puff factor was not exactly up to wheeze level. Progress:- Walked 161 - to go 339.
A dim glimpse......
......of the Ribble Valley beyond the forests of Longridge Fell. Regrettably the day was dull and the views a little disappointing. That great hothouse of medieval witchery - Pendle Hill - was a bit dim and distant - see photo below.


.....behind the Stonyhurst cricket pavilion. The cricket oval is great setting on which to hear the thwack of leather on willow, nestling as it does close to the River Ribble 'twixt Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.

Ent Lookalike?

Because it is common knowledge that JRR Tolkein was writing TLOTR at Stonyhurst during the war, everyone assumes that his inspiration for Middle Earth is taken from the countryside around the college. There is now a 'Tolkein and The Three Rivers Walk' around the school. Whilst the confluence of the Ribble with the Calder and Hodder might just bear some resemblance to the map in The Hobbit, I personally think that most of this so-called inspiration owes more to our own imaginations than to anything he was thinking about whilst he lived in the school. If you ever do the walk you'll see what I mean. So - the B 6246 that takes in Hodder Bridge is meant to be his Great East Road? I don't think so!

The Eagle Towers.
Symbol of Stonyhurst.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

13. Settle, North Yorkshire.

Details:- This is a walk from the Walking World website, for which I pay to subscribe. There are some excellent walks on the site, which are well presented, and generally easy to follow. My only gripe is that they are mostly less than ten miles long, and I would like to see some longer walks provided. This was one of their longer ones. Distance:- 12 miles. Going:- Well....the information said there was a height gain for the walk of 700 metres, but since nowhere on the walk is higher than 650 odd metres I find this hard to fathom. I should have thought it was a height gain of 150 metres or so. Progress:- walked 154 - 346 to go.
The Yorkshire Dales....

Wow! Wonderful walking country. I texted Jack who did Malham on his Duke Of Edinburgh Silver expedition. All he could remember was constantly treading in the droppings of the countless numbers of sheep up there. Hmmm - he probably slept well anyway.


My peace and quiet was shattered when this RAF bomber ripped the overhead sky apart as the pilot practised some (very) low level flying across the Dales. The noise level was enormous as it flew off into the distance; it's powerful engines roaring out loudly across most of the county.

Malham Tarn.

So here you are walking on all this porous limestone pavement with a myriad of pot holes beneath your feet. So how come there's this large freshwater pond holding up from beneath? Why doesn't the water permeate down through the limestone and form tights or mites or whatever it does down there? My rudimentary knowledge of geology affords me no clues. Any offers?

A drunken dry stone wall....

.....receding distantly towards Penyghent. We're in Ribblesdale here, There are plans to barrage the river at Penwortham, near Preston - as they have in Cardiff - for the purpose of redevelopment. I hope they don't. Gerard Manly Hopkins, the Jesuit who taught at my old school Stonyhurst, (which stands close to the Ribble near Ribchester), puts it well:- "What would the world be, once bereft of wet and wildness? Let them be left, oh let them be left, wildness and wet; long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."

A Cheese Scone/Yorkshire Pud Debate.

I do like a cup of tea and a scone, preferably cheese, after a walk. But in the Naked Man Tea Shop in Settle I saw natives tucking into Yorkshire puddings filled with gravy - at tea time no less. I have to say I'm not tempted. Indeed I wonder at all the fuss about puddings from Yorkshire; and at their elevated position as exemplary of our national cuisine. Surely tea is the quintessential english past-time, and a good scone is at the centre of a good tea-time. At the risk of upsetting the natives of 'god's own county' - about which I don't suppose I'll lose too much sleep - give me a cheese scone any day of the week! Anyone anxious to differ?