with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com
When we checked this route just before Easter apart from a pair of farmers near Gilberton we didn’t see another person all day. We were just 40 minutes from Preston. As with last week’s walk in the Howgills the Forest of Bowland offers walkers escape from “the madding crowd”. I know I keep banging on about this but I really do believe that for those fit enough regular walking in the countryside is beneficial for mind and body. To be away from the incessant noise of screens and devices is a cure in itself. If you already do this you’ll know it to be true and will keep doing it. If you don’t - try it.
Start: Lay-by 50yds to the east of Tower Lodge near Abbeystead on the Lancaster-Dunsop Bridge Road LA2 9BN
Distance: 11 miles
Time: 5-7 hours
Maps: OS OL41 The Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale.
1. The first section of the walk follows the Wyre Way to the hamlet of Tarnbrook. From the car park turn left onto the Lancaster Road and then at the lodge turn right onto a broad track that after passing through a wooden gate leads upwards towards the moors. After ¼ mile a sign post on the left points towards Gilberton. Cross the stile and follow the Wyre Way over a succession of pastures to reach Hind Hill close to Pennington Wood. Here the Way turns right following a tree lined gully downhill to a small farmstead at Speight Clough. Through its yard bear left towards the more substantial farmstead of Gilberton. As you near the main buildings turn right over a footbridge which spans the infant Wyre and then after a gate turn left onto a Land Rover track leading into Tarnbrook.
2. Now comes the strenuous bit with 2 miles of sustained climbing to the summit of Ward’s Stone. After 50yds more or less in the centre of the hamlet turn right on a track that dips to a wooden gate and then begins the long ascent to the top of the hill before you. After passing Tarnsyke Wood to the left the track becomes steeper as it comes close to an aqueduct (carrying a water pipeline) seen to the right. Soon after pass a luncheon hut – also to the right. At the junction just above the hut keep ahead and keep ahead at the next junction. The track ends at a turning circle. From here a raggedly path leads to a line of luxury grouse butts somewhat reminiscent of World War One entrenchments. After reaching the last one (sixth or seventh – I forgot to count!) you will find yourself on the broad plateau summit of Ward’s Stone. Here bear slight left from your previous line of travel to reach the trig point and the collection of boulders that presumably give the fell its name.
3. In clear weather this is a fine viewpoint. Particularly impressive is the view of the Yorkshire Peaks to the north-east. The next part of the walk is a three mile yomp across the roof of Bowland. From the trig point turn east (or right from your approach) onto an obvious path that traverses this huge chunk of upland taking you to Ward’s Stone’s other trig point 700yds away. This one is one metre higher than the western trig point (561m) but does not have the concentration of rock to give it feature). Keep on the path as it descends to a fence corner. Now with the fence to your left continue your progress to Wolfhole Crag using the fence and later a wall always to your left. While the first section of the walk can be prone to bogginess after prolonged wet weather the worst bog will be encountered as you cross the watershed marked Brown Syke on the map. Here indecisive water cannot decide whether to flow north to feed the Lune or south into the Wyre so it stays put in order to pose problems for walkers. After crossing a Land Rover track the path begins to climb towards Wolfhole Crag. At a junction of ways marked by a signpost the fence on the left has become a wall again. Follow it to the third trig point of the walk – the summit of Wolfhole Crag.
4. Wolves became extinct in England sometime during the reign of Henry VII (1485 – 1509) The Forest of Bowland is thought to have been their last redoubt. Retrace your steps to the junction with the signpost cross the stile and turn left towards Miller House. Initially the going is awkward as you negotiate boggy ground but after a wall replaces the fence on the left the path becomes firmer as it crosses Brennand Great Hill adorned with a lump of grit stone called Elephant Rock to the right of the main path. If there was ever a house at Miller’s House it is long gone but there is a scattering of rock some of which are fashioned millstones. Just beyond the “house” a signpost points rightwards indicating the direction back to Tower Lodge. Here the way is not always easy to discern. Keep left when in doubt to arrive at the track which comes up from Tower Lodge.
- Walk devised by Malcolm McCulloch. Bob’s walks are now available as digital guides on the iFootpath website and App (see iFootpath.com)