Downham Circuit

I’m a creature of habit and having rediscoverd Downham I wanted to take another walk around this part of Pendle. 

Features:

  • reminiscing
  • geology
  • Ribble valley views

Map (click on it to open in a new window)

map-downham_circuit

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.

Perfect day, perfect weather, until the sunburn starts!

Perfect day, perfect weather, until the sunburn starts!

A seasonal carpet.

A seasonal carpet.

The yellow and blue are a striking colour palette.

The yellow and blue are a striking colour palette.

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.

Twiston Brook.

Twiston Brook.

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

map-downham_circuit

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.)

Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights Reserved'

Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights Reserved’

geol_key-downham_circuit
The same map with the route overlayed, and you can see the geological influence on the landform and observed change of vegetation as the route gets higher.

Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights Reserved'

Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights Reserved’

Looking north and the views across the Ribble valley.

Looking north and the views across the Ribble valley.

The landscape character is rolling and predominantly agricultural...

The landscape character is rolling and predominantly agricultural…

... then the upland character takes hold.

… then the upland character takes hold.

The flanks of Pendle Hill.

The flanks of Pendle Hill.

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.

The Curlews were drawing their line in the sand round here. (But not on camera!)

The Curlews were drawing their line in the sand round here. (But not on 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.

Another view of Twiston Brook.

Another view of Twiston Brook.

Looking back to where I've come from.

Looking back to where I’ve come from.

And the last photo of the day.

And the last photo of the day.

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.

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