This is a walk for those who like to explore wild places. Not in Africa, not even in Scotland but right here in Lancashire at a start point probably no more than 20 minutes by car from Lancaster city centre. It’s a tough walk to complete with the last few miles not having the benefit of track but if you try it you may find yourself “remade and made better,” for having spent a long day with the heather and the peat.
Start/finish: Roadside verge parking on Roeburndale Road below Caton Moor GR SD582603. From Junction 34 M6 follow A683 to Caton. Here turn right at roundabout and continue to Brookhouse. Just before Black Bull pub turn right towards Littledale. Keep right as lane forks and continue for one mile. This remote lane will take you below the wind turbines of Caton Moor. In two miles look for a suitable parking spot. (Do not use passing bays.)
Distance: 20k 12 miles
Time: 4 - 6 hours
Map: OS OL41 The Forest of Bowland.
Map by kind permission of the Blackpool Gazette
Directions. Continue along the lane
to its end before the farm of Winder. Here turn right through a metal gate
and follow a broad track as it drops to cross a stream
and then climbs to the farmstead of Haylot.
Turn left in front of the farmhouse
and keeping left follow a path as it drops across a broad pasture to a stile in a fence. Across this descend steeply into woods to cross a second stream. Over the footbridge
follow waymarks as they lead up to the farm of Mallowdale. The path edges round the front of the house and will place you on the farm drive.
When you reach it turn left and descend to the River Roeburndale.
Over this keep on the track as it climbs from the valley
and then just before a barn on the left turn right before a wall, cross a stile to follow a path
that cuts across to High Salter a substantial farm.
When you reach the track above the farm turn right.
This track known as the Hornby Road has been called the finest moorland track in Britain. It connects Slaidburn in the Hodder Valley to Hornby close by the Lune and is an ancient thoroughfare. All that said there is nothing left but to enjoy it. For the next hour it will eat up the miles taking you into the heart of the Forest of Bowland.
After it crosses the highest part of the way look for a track leading off to the right just under 4k after joining the Hornby Road.
This shooting track drops to the River Roeburndale
and then climbs up to the long ridge between Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone. As the track levels out turn right beyond the metal gate.
All has been easy until now. The second half of the walk is nothing less than arduous. The traverse to Ward's Stone follows fence and wall (on your right)
- good for keeping on route - but awkward in that frequent quagmires have to be negotiated. After the second stretch on wall the way dips before climbing to the east trig point of Ward's Stone.
Where the fence meets another forming an apex there is a distinctive looking stone - shaped like a stool - the Queen's Chair.
After "bagging" the trig point
return to this point.
The next section bears left from the Queen's Chair over some very boggy ground to reach the pile of stones on High Stephen's Head 1200m away. Easier said than done. After 30 minutes of struggle and problem solving it will be a relief to reach the solid ground of this spur.
To complete the walk descend between fence on the left and wall on the right aiming towards the wind turbines of Caton Moor. Without much of a path to assist you the way will seem long. When the beginnings of a stream is reached follow the watercourse close to the fence.
As you near Littledale go through a gate on a track leading into the valley
and then climbing to fields on the far side. Turn right to reach Deep Clough Farm.
Its drive leads up to Roeburndale Road.