Hawthornthwaite Fell

 

 

The top of Hawthornthwaite Fell is flat and featureless. It is an extensive area of grassy bog and the occasional peaty pool. Faint tracks can be found next to the boundary fences that stretch over the wet moorland while odd footprints are evident in places where the few walkers have scrambled up and down the black peaty slopes near the intersection of fence and stream. This home of grouse and breeding sea gulls does not attract many visitors except when shooters swarm up the land rover tracks to the grouse butts. For many a mile the only hint of human activity are the fences but look back to the Fylde Blackpool Tower and Heysham Atomic Power Station will jolt you back to modern times. There are long views to Black Combe on the far edge of Morecambe Bay, to Ingelborough one of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire and on a very clear day to North Wales.

If the moorland top of Hazelhurst is featureless it has only recently become so as it was adorned for many years with an unusually tall trig point.

 

The surrounding soil and peat had been washed away leaving it standing not on firm ground but on a metre high column of stone and cement. Since then this process had continued - wind and weather had caused it to topple and the column now lies forlornly on the ground.

This erosion around the summit and surrounding peat is causing real concern to ecologists and local authorities. Bowland’s summit peat bogs are important to us all as they hold water and carbon dioxide. The loss of vegetation leads to more rapid rain run off and causing a potential flooding risk in as well as adding to the increasingly problematic issue of carbon emissions. Action is being taken to counteract these trends. Efforts are being made here and on nearby Fair Snape Fell to anchor down the peat hags with webbing nets. While the redundant trig point may never be restored it is good to see the conservation work in progress and it can only be hoped it will prove successful.
If the summit of the Hawthornthwaite Fell is a little dull now that the curious trig point is horizontal a visit to the top can be combined with a valley walk along the River Wyre which would serve as a good introduction to the contrasting landscapes that can be found in the Bowland area.

Start: Stoops Bridge, Abbeystead LA2 9BQ GR SD564 544
 

Fact file

Distance: 8 ½ miles 13k
 

Grade: Mainly strenuous. Readers need to be competent with map and compass to undertake this walk.

Map: OS OL41 The Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale

 

Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

Directions: Starting from Stoops Bridge at Abbeystead, head towards Abbeystead Lake a short way then take a faint path left up through Hinberry Wood to Hawthornthwaite Farm. Then follow the quiet road

 

up the hill and turn right at the junction and follow the road down and along the pretty valley of the Cam Brook which drains the fell. At the second cattle grid the brook can be seen soming down the fell side and a shooters track can be seen on the eastern bank. This track is followed as far as it goes. When it ends there is good half mile of trackless but not too difficult walking on an easterly bearing which leads to the fence along the summit ridge which is the followed to the dead trig point.

 

A little easy walking through a strange peaty landscape leads to a fence junction which is the key to the descent. Leave the summit fence , cross the left hand fence and head north east to pick up another shooters path above Black Clough. The way is marked by occassional white tipped posts ( some are often horizontal) leading to another shooters path. Follow the track down steeply to the Trough Road enjoying the views across to Wards Stone and possibly to the Lakes if the day is kind.
Once in the valley the delightful Wyre Way path will lead you back to the start.

 

The river walking provides a complete contrast to the moors and also gives you a view of the Duke of Westminster's opulent country residence

 

as you approach Abbeystead.

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