Dunsop Fell and Croasdale
I have just done the reccee for the next CHA walk with Les and Chris. Les is due to lead the ‘A ‘party and he said he got the walk from a book he borrowed from the local library. I think it must have been called ‘Walks for masochists’
We started the walk from Slaidburn and walked past the Hark to Bounty pub to continue along a minor road. After a stiff climb out of the village the road levelled out and we passed Ellerbeck Hall with its 1694 date stone. Later as the road swung left we turned off to follow a track to Burnside cottages. Now I don’t like road walking and we had done a couple of miles, but, I should have appreciated it as it was the last solid ground that we would have under our feet for the next few hours.
We skirted the farmhouse via a gate, crossed a plank bridge and went through another gate. We emerged into what was described as a reedy pasture to cross a stream. I would call it a cross between a marsh and a bog. Whatever the definition, it was wet.
We could see our next objective, the ridge of burn Fell seemingly a long way off and looking dark and foreboding in the gloom. It was now pouring with rain and after struggling into our waterproofs we climbed up what was optimistically called a path. The shower passed and as the sun came out we could look back over Stocks Reservoir.
At Wisket Hill we turned left to make a slight detour to visit the trig point which was jealously guarded by a sheep.. We came to an area of spongy moss which was fun to walk on but every step made us wonder how far we might sink in.
Heading back from the trig point we followed the wall to Dunsop Head.
We went through a gate and started the descent towards the settlement of Whitendale. We followed what was described as a peaty path but in places was more like a bog, the way being indicated by white marker posts topped with yellow paint. Eventually the path became firmer as it zigzagged down to the farm. Here our luck changed. We found a picnic table by the stream and we were able to sit in comfort to eat our lunch. At least the sunshine helped to dry out our clothes.
After lunch we walked past the houses with their immaculate gardens to carry on along a track which headed north along the side of Whitendale Valley. Once again the going was wet underfoot and it had started to rain again. All was silent except for the occasional call of an oystercatcher and the squelch, squelch, squelch of our feet. After almost two miles we emerged onto the Hornby Road. Also known as the Salters way this moorland road once linked the farms of the Ribble Valley with the coast at Morcambe Bay. For a short section the Hornby Road is constructed over an old Roman road that once connected forts at Hadrian’s Wall and Ribchester.
We turned right to follow the road crossing New Bridge. The way appeared blocked by a herd of Belted Galloway’s but these moved off as we approached. We reached a signpost indicating a path running down to our left into Croasdale. This was what was suggested in our notes as it would avoid almost four miles of road walking.
As we branched off to begin the descent warning bells were ringing at the back of my mind. The going was very wet but we followed the yellow topped marker posts down to the ruins of what used to be the House of Croasdale. The path continued down through reedy pasture. The cows must use this field and their hooves had left hidden holes in the soft ground. Every step was a gamble. We all slipped at some stage. I went forward onto my knees and the water came up over my shorts. Chris fell in face first and even his new white baseball cap was covered in mud. As we approached Croasdale Brook it got worse. We were walking blind through waist high reeds often up to our knees in water.It then dawned on me. I had been here before, in March 2009 and I now remembered that I had great difficulty getting across the brook. That was after a dry spell but now the brook was a couple of foot deep, quite wide and very fast flowing. We thought about trying to wade across, our boots were already full of water, but it was too dangerous. We wandered around a bit searching for a possible crossing place but without success. Tired, wet and surrounded by midges we had no alternative but to retrace our steps back up to the Hornby Road.
We scanned the map for alternatives but as we had lost so much time we decided to stick to the roads back into Slaidburn. Four miles of road walking did little to lift our spirits.
After almost 9 hours of walking we were back at our car. We had covered just over 15 miles.
I phoned home to try and explain why I would be late. But I was , as the French would say, “dans la maison de le chien”
This is why we always do a reccee before leading a group on a walk.We have now studied our maps and worked out an alternative ending to the walk, giving Croasdale a miss. It will be a respectable 11 miles but will still probably be moist underfoot.
Another adventure with Les.