I’m a creature of habit and having rediscoverd Downham I wanted to take another walk around this part of Pendle.
- Ribble valley views
Map (click on it to open in a new window)
Today is one of those days when you do everything slowly. You walk slowly, eat slowly, even think slowly. Which suits me. Blue sky and hot weather, the bench next to the brook in Downham is too inviting so I have my dinner there. I am joined by an elderly lady called Molly. Molly is 86 and originally from Staffordshire. She’s with a friend, a volunteer with Help the Aged, and together they’re trying to find the spot where Molly had spread her husband’s ashes seventeen years ago.
She speaks proudly of her daughter who teaches maths at nearby Stonyhurst College. And tells me her son has fallen off a ladder and done his shoulder in; which has scuppered his golfing. She gives me a bottle of juice and insists I drink it when I go for my walk and, with her friend, we talk walking, birds, genealogy, the Lake District and how she and her family moved around Britain following her husband’s work.
They head off to the church and I start the walk and it isn’t long before I come across a typical feature today: fields of buttercups. Billions of them. A casual glance from a distance and you might think the rapeseed crops are flowering, but there are fields and fields of buttercups and with the powdery blue sky set a striking colour scheme.
At Twiston Brook I realise I’ve been this way before. The walk then was part of a pedometer challenge and I came up from Sawley, past Downham and on to Rimington across the fields, inevitably getting lost. If my memory serves me I did about 20 000 steps which equated to several thousand miles or something. Our team didn’t win the challenge owing to other teams spending all day on treadmills in gyms, which sort of defeats the purpose of getting people outdoors.
Anyway, past deja vu bridge and on up the hill. At the top I’m in a different landscape now. Gone are the rolling agricultural fields, replaced by the upland moors of Pendle Hill. The British Geological Survey website can explain.
Here’s the route on the OS map again. Note three features:
1 – Isolated hills of Gerna Peak, the contours above Hollins Farm in the middle of the map, and Hill Top Quarry
2 – The course of Twiston Brook and the area east of Downham with Downham Brook
3 – The Pendle HIll contours from Downham Moor to Pendle Bridge Wood
Here’s the geological information. The purple areas are the isolated peaks and are Clitheroe Limestone Formation (Knoll-Reef). A large area east of Downham and the ‘finger’ of Twiston Brook are Clitheroe Limestone and Hodder Mudstone Formations. And then the Pendle Hill contours are the layers of Pendleside Limestone, Bowland Shale and Pendleside Sandstone. (Remember from the Pendleton-Downham walk the description of Pendle Hill being a sandstone outcrop on top of limestone and shales.)
Down at Pendle Hill End Bridge my attention is caught by birds arguing. Two birds are having a bit of argy bargy with a larger bird and it soon becomes apparent that the two smaller birds, Curlews, are protecting a nest somewhere in the long grass. One bird defends the nest as the other chases off the raptor and it isn’t long before they’re two unidentifiable dots in the sky. (I’d see the Curlews again on a walk down into Barley a couple of weeks later.) And all of it out of range of my compact camera.
So off I go again, climbing up the contours and taking shots across the valley carved out by Twiston Brook. And it’s here that the batteries die on my camera! About ten years ago I made a point of walking without a camera, forcing myself to pay more attention to where I was. Now, I can’t remember where I went during that camera-free period, but in my defence I was carrying around SLR equipment with lenses and tripod, and it was quite a pantomime whenever there was a stop for a shot. Buying a simple compact camera made a lot of difference.
So, you’ll have to take my word for it when I say I stop to look across the Ribble valley through binoculars, which is quite impressive, then I drop back into Downham and a pint of shandy at the Assheton Arms. £3.40 for four fifths of a pint of lemonade and a shot of beer seems ‘high’ to me, so next time it’ll be either a half or coffee at the Post Office cafe. As I sit in the sun I wonder how Molly’s day turned out and did she eventually remember where her husband’s ashes were scattered.