Lockdown number two, and no railways until at least the 2nd of December, so it's back to the Lockdown Walks again, though not as often as earlier in the year due to the shorter hours of daylight.
This gallery contains a number of collections of Photo Documentaries of some of my rambles around the Rossendale area.
Lockdown number two, and no railways until at least the 2nd of December, so it's back to the Lockdown Walks again, though not as often as earlier in the year due to the shorter hours of daylight.
Since the ELR started running again, and the evenings started to draw in, making it more difficult to heave my nightly walks, I've instead had to resort to having more irregular afternoon walks now. This gallery shows some of the images taken during September and October 2020 on some of these. With the way some people are behaving, and the way that the virus is spreading once again, these and my weekly visits to the ELR may be the only opportunities I get for photography in the coming months, so I do plan to continue with them.
The lockdown restrictions may have been eased but at the start of August 2020 much of East Lancashire was given more restrictions due to the behaviour of people in some of its boroughs, which were starting to cause and increase in the 'R' number, and because of fear that the upcoming Eid celebrations would see another surge in cases. This was quite annoying for us residents of Rossendale as we have one of the lowest rates in the north west, but it appears that the politicians claim that people from other areas may arrive and infect us if we aren't included, which is interesting considering that for the past 5 months, and through the height of the pandemic, we seem to have avoided that happening. Anyway, as I still can't travel very far my nightly walks up around our beautiful hills and moorland continue, and very enjoyable they are too, and generally peaceful apart from the odd sighting of some escapee from Rochdale. August has started off by being warm though much to my annoyance, I much prefer tramping the hills when it's a lot cooler, or even wet and windy, and there is nothing quite like standing on the top of a big hill when it's blowing a Gale and clearing all of the cobwebs out of your brain.
The lockdown restrictions had been eased somewhat (though I have some mixed views about the timing), and although I've had the odd visit up to Rawtenstall to buy various things, with no trains yet running at the ELR (though they will be from the 1st of August - hooray!), there wasn't really much reason for me to venture out of the area (and I certainly didn't want to visit Rochdale unless I had to with the current severe Coronavirus outbreak there), so it was mostly walks around the valley, and my almost nightly visits up to the Trig Point on top of Rushy Hill. I must admit that I do like my visits up there as the views are impressive when the skies are clear, though this varies greatly from day to day and according to wind direction and pollution levels etc. July had been even worse than June and probably the coolest July that I can remember, very unusual for this time of the year. It also rained heavily on many days, and while I would normally be very happy at the prospect of lots of the wet stuff, it was a little frustrating this time, as I was doing my best to catch some shots of Comet Neowise which was visible in the night sky throughout the middle of the month. Thankfully I did finally get a clear night on the 20th of the month and did succeed in getting a shot of it, though by this time it wasn't quite so bright as it had been in previous weeks. I can't say that I haven't enjoyed photographing landscapes, Cattle, Wild Horses and sheep, but it will be nice to get back to shooting a few steam trains once again, I haven't seen once since early March.
Well I like a good walk, and this one certainly fit into that category, and was without doubt the longest walk I'd done since I'd recovered from a nasty back injury that had ended my previous walking hobby some years back. Considering just how bad I was after the injury I was worried that my hiking days were over, yet amazingly I am now fully recovered and almost back to my previous injury fitness levels once again - the 'Lockdown Walks' have certainly done wonders for me that's for sure!
I should explain the strange title of this particular walk, it came about as I had long had a visit to the nearby Crook Hill Wind Farm on my list, but hadn't been able to visit at the time when it was constructed back in 2015, and on previous daily exercise walks I had noticed that one of the turbines was out of action, and there were two mobiles cranes on site next to it. The risk of thunderstorms the previous week had prevented me from checking this out, as there is zero shelter up there and you do not want to be caught out on the open moor and hills during such a storm. Monday 22nd of June 2020 was perfect though, fine, dry and not too warm, ideal walking conditions for such a lengthy trek, especially as I was planning to get there the long way round, taking in parts of the Rossendale Way and a number of the local hills (we have lots of big hills in the South Pennines, an area of natural beauty and ruggedness, and the sooner the plans to make this a National Park come to fruition all the better in my humble opinion!). I decided to take all of my camera gear with me this time, not a good idea as it turned out, as I was unable to use the larger and heaviest lens as it was very breezy up on the hilltops, and lugging a very heavy bag on your back might give a great cardiac workout, but is hard work when you are walking up very steep hills.
One of the mobile cranes had departed, but I got some shots of the other one (very satisfying after not having had any trains or buses to photograph for the past 3 months), and of course being obsessive I naturally had to visit all 11 turbines which spread right over into the People's Republic of West Yorkshire. The 11 hills visited en route consisted of: Hodge Hill, Brown Wardle Hill, Little Middle Hill, Middle Hill, Hades Hill, Rough Hill, Ramsden Hill, Crook Hill, Long Hill, Great Hill and Noon Hill. The 'Ways' used where the Rossendale Way, the Rochdale Way, the Pennine Bridleway (Mary Townley Loop) and the Long Causeway. In all about 10 miles all round. I had also planned to make my daily exercise walk to the top of Rushy Hill on the way back, but as there were lots of golfers out on the nearby course I decided that I would come back in the evening and do that rather than risk a Golf Ball on the back of the head! :-)
When I think of just how many walks I made up to the Scout Moor Wind Farm during its construction back in 2009, and the number of photos I took and the number of pairs of boots I wore out back then, it's probably just as well that I wasn't able to do the same with this site when it was constructed, my obsessiveness knows no bounds once I get something like that in my head.
Although the lockdown restrictions have been eased somewhat in recent weeks, and we are no longer limited to just one hour a day, I have still continued my regular, almost daily at times, walks around the area, not just for exercise but also to photograph many parts of the area that I all too often take for granted or neglect. Rather than fill up my Whitworth Gallery with them (especially as some bits of the moor stray in Rochdale's domain), I have decided to create a new 'Lockdown walk' gallery in the Windypics Walks section instead. These are in no particular order, and are just mostly identified by the date they were taken.
After nearly a month without a whiff of steam or diesel, I was getting well and truly 'stir crazy' at being stuck indoors and not able to go out and about to the many bus and rail events that would normally be taking place at this time of the year. We are living in strange times though, who would have imagined we'd all be going through self-isolation and distancing, and many people dying from some awful epidemic even 3 months ago? Living on the edge of open moorland does have its advantages though and I've at least been able to get out for the odd exercise walk, though I have to say that I was somewhat angered at seeing our normally peaceful moorland getting overrun by 'townies' who would normally never dream of visiting the place, and even worse, leaving all their rubbish, fag ends and empty bottles all over the moorland. At this time of the year such things can easily cause fires to start, and with the birds and wildlife breeding this is very bad news, not only for them but also for the poor old fire service who have to waste a lot of resources trying to put them out. On one of my visits there were so many cars parked up in one spot that I was half expecting an ice cream van and hot dog stall to turn up and join them. No doubt once this crisis is over these morons will go back to sitting on their sofas and playing on their smartphones and x-boxes once again. Needless to say I have now switched my walks to the near dusk period when it's a bit quieter, as this is far better for my blood pressure, if not for any photography.
The photos in the gallery were taken on the 1st of April, a day which I chose deliberately as it was the first one that wasn't sunny, and you know I could never resist a drop of rain and murky looking skies. The sooner this lockdown ends the better, I just hope we still have a few heritage railways and bus museums left to visit, no doubt this is hitting them very hard financially at the moment and many are relying on donations from supporters to replace their lost income. Bloody Chinese, I don't know why they can't eat processed rubbish like everyone else! ;-)
With not much in the transport line taking place over the Christmas and New Year holiday period, I had been planning to have several of my photo walks, most of around 5 miles or so. Sadly, a very nasty chest infection which started on Christmas Day and which had hit me quite badly, had left me feeling somewhat unenergetic, a very unusual situation for me, as I usually have far too much of the stuff. I was also feeling a bit wheezy and decided that a shorter walk was going to have to be the order of the day if I wanted one at all. After looking through my 'target list' of places still to be visited, I decided that the nice and easy 1.5 mile route through the Bacup area, starting from Futures Park, then along New Line, and terminating at Britannia would be just the job, especially since the former Bacup-Rochdale branch line had run along part of this route and there were still a few remnants there worth photographing. Now it's not the first time I've taken pictures along this route, but in the past it was mainly just on certain parts rather than the entire route, so it was well worthing doing again, especially as my last visit must have been around 10 years ago, and quite a few things have changed since then.
My walk began at Futures Park, which is a business park near to the boundary with Stacksteads, and just at the bottom of the New Line Road. This is where some of the Rossendale Council Offices are, and where a brand new factory for a company called 'Orthoplastics', which is a world leader in the development and supply of implantable medical devices for the orthopaedic sector (which hopefully I won't be needing anytime soon), and according to developer Barnfield will bring 100 badly needed jobs to the area, is currently under construction. Usually it's difficult to photograph around there as many of the JJO wagons are parked there awaiting loading at their nearby factory, but at this time of the year when things are quiet, this is the ideal time to get a close look at the place. In years gone by this was the entrance route to Lee Quarries, and had a never ending stream of lorries bringing stone down from there, but these days it is now a Mountain Biking Training Centre and a part of the 'Valley of Stone' project. At the opposite end of New Line is the 102 year old family owned 'Lancashire Sock Manufacturing Company', nice to see this company still thriving, especially as much of the older industry in the area is now long gone.
This was an enjoyable if somewhat tiring walk, and I had to ask myself afterwards why I decided to walk from the bottom of the hill to the top when it would have been much easier to do it the other way round? I never did have much sense though, but I guess that the love of walking up big hills just seems to be something that is built into my DNA! :-)
I thought it was about time I paid a long overdue visit to the Cowm Reservoir in Whitworth, and as I had to pass by there on my way up to photograph the local TV relay transmitter, which is located up on the old quarry above there, I thought I would make this into one of my occasional 'Windypics Walks' while I was at it.
The route started at Tong Lane and headed up to what is now the British Disabled Water Sports Centre, and then up the quarry road to the off-road motor sport site, before heading down through the walking paths running through the small forest that is now growing around the Shawforth end of the route. From there I headed back down to the main road along Cycle Route 92 (opened back in 2009 if I recall right, I was even at the opening ceremony and have a collection of images of this which I really must dig out and upload one of these days.
Though I've placed this walk in the 'Rambles Around Rossendale' section it does actually cover bits of the Burnley area as well, but here seemed appropriate as I had actually started my walk from inside the Rossendale Boundary.
On Sunday 12th of May 2019 the weather was warm and sunny again after what had been a cool and at times slightly damp week, and I had been toying with having a crack at the annual 14 mile Whitworth Skyline Walk which was also taking place that day, but not having done any really long walks for some time following a nasty back injury, I was a bit wary about 'flogging' myself over such a long route without getting a few shorter walks under my belt first. The idea for a walk up Hameldon and Great Hameldon Hills had been born the previous week when I passed by there on the bus to Skipton, and on seeing the various aerial masts up at the top of the hill, it reminded me that prior to injuring my back I was in the middle of a project to photograph all of the local TV and Radio Transmitting Sites in the area (which can be found HERE:). I decided that I could get some shots of the BBC Radio Lancashire Medium Wave transmitter, which is located up there, plus the Met Office Weather Radar Station and other TV and phone masts at the same time, so that became my object for the day's walk.
My walk began in Dunnockshaw and then proceeded along to Clowbridge Reservoir where the Rossendale Sailing Club are based, and I had thought about adding a walk around there as well, which would have given me a total walk of around 10 miles, but on seeing lots of interesting looking places in the Crawshawbooth, Loveclough, Goodshaw and Dunnockshaw areas on my way up there, I decided that I could make that a separate walk on another day, which is what I will do in the near future.
My trip up to Hameldon Hill started opposite the reservoir, and involved a very picturesque and steep route up to the transmitter site, and I spent quite a bit of time photographing the various aerials, which can be found in the 'Aerial Gallery'. There was a Trig Point just to the rear of the weather station and I naturally paid it a visit, though it wasn't too accessible due to the fencing around there, and I would have had to climb over the barbed wire to get a shot of the number on it, so I had to be content with a shot from the rear. Next I decided to head up to the higher 'Great Hameldon Hill' which is some 409 metres/1341ft asl, and which offers a spectacular view over the Accrington, Blackburn, Burnley and Pendle areas, and which I had often looked up at from the railway station in Accrington and thought that I must climb it one day. What a view it was and well worth the effort, I even made a 180 degree panorama shot of this which can be found in the 'Panorama Gallery'. The most notable landmark visible from there was Pendle Hill, some 8 miles to the north, an area famous for its infamous Pendle Witch trials back in the 17th century, and of course not forgetting Sabden, which is also famous for its Treacle Mines. You could even see right up to the North Yorkshire Moors and this location offers a great view of just how spectacular the Lancashire and Pennine Hill regions really are.
All in all a very enjoyable walk and great to be out in the hills again, and best of all I had no ill effects this time and my back gave me no problems in spite of the rough terrain, so I will now hopefully be doing a lot more walking again in the coming months. More information on this area can be found HERE:
Apart from all things Transport related, Photography and Radio (I'm a long time Radio Ham and Short Wave enthusiast), one of my other long time passions is hiking, especially around all the glorious hills and moorland which we are so blessed with in this area. There can't be many places around here that I haven't walked over many hundreds of times during my lifetime, though an unexpected back injury about 6 years ago, which was caused by a herniated disk, did put something of a crimp in my long distance hikes for quite a long time. Thanks to a very good Pain Specialist, a lot of exercise, and an element of good luck, I am at last almost back to full fitness once more, so I thought it was about time I tried having a good yomp around one of my favourite routes again. The route chosen involved starting at Whitworth Square and then heading to the top of Rushy Hill, before continuing around Healey Stones and Brown House Wham Reservoir, then heading around to the north side of Brown Wardle Hill and the old rifle range, before heading straight to the top of the hill, and then back down to my starting point again, about 7 miles in all.
Usually when I'm out walking I don't tend to take many photographs even though I always have my camera with me, and this is because the constant stops do tend to interfere with your walking rhythm, and of course it slows you down quite a bit. Recently though, it has occurred to me that with things constantly changing, I really should try doing the odd photo documentary of these routes, and my recent back troubles reminded me that I may not always be fit enough to do them in the near future now that I'm getting on a bit, so it would be a very good idea to get this project done now rather than later. I do wish I had done something like this 30 or 40 years ago as the area has now changed so much, and many of the friendly hill farmers have now been replaced by monified city types, who stick big fences around everything and block off public footpaths and ancient rights of way (illegally - remember that pillock Jeremy Clarkson getting in trouble for doing that on his property several years back?), though with the savage cuts I doubt that the council's have the resources to tackle these sacrileges these days.
Also now absent are the once mighty cotton and woollen mills, and before the 1980s the valleys were festooned with tall mill chimneys, which are now sadly a very rare sight in the 21st century. I can recall when I was younger that it was always fascinating to go up on the hills when the valley was filled with mist and the only thing that could be seen was the tops of the chimneys poking above the clouds, I just wish I'd thought to take photographs of such things back then. Anyway, before I start getting too nostalgic, I'll instead just let the images do their own talking and keep the descriptions to a minimum. I will add a few more walks and photo documentaries covering other routes in the area in the coming months, so at least once I get that over and done with I can then get back to my less distracted walks once again and enjoy the fresh air and peace and quiet!:-)
NOTE# - I'm fond of 'panorama' shots, and took a couple during this walk, which can be found in the Panorama Gallery HERE: