Bowland
A few years back an American friend of my son’s decided he wanted to walk the Cape Wrath Trail on completion of his post graduate studies. He asked if I could take him on a training walk.
The Cape Wrath Trail is Europe’s toughest long distance walk. At 200 miles long to starts in Fort William and tracks up to Cape Wrath the furthest point on the north west coast of Scotland. It demands physical endurance, self-reliance, good navigation and a backpack as there is not a great deal of settlement on the route. To prepare young Matt for this epic walk I took him to Bowland using much of the route described below. Bowland is a chunk of he north west Highlands relocated in Lancashire. For those of my readers who enjoy a challenge – this is your walk.

Start: Fellfoot Lay by Startifants Lane End 2 miles north west of Chipping PR3 2NP
Summary:
Distance: 16k 10m
 

Time: 5 – 7 hours

Grade: StenuousApart from the approach to Saddle Fell no part of this walk can be described as easy – just some parts are less tough than others.
Map: OS OL41 Ribblesdale and the Forest of Bowland
Directions:
1. From Fell foot follow the drive towards Wolfen Hall close to the junction of Startifacts Lane. A footpath diversion

 

will take you around the hall and bring you to a steep sided clough. Descend to the footbridge

 

and climb up the far side. Follow waymark posts across pastures, often very boggy underfoot anytime of the year, to lead you to a small plantation. Keep ahead through this and bear right to a stile.

 

After crossing it turn left and walk through the yard of Saddle End Farm. Keep ahead through a gate

 

and along a track

 

which soon leads to the open fell. Once on the fell the track becomes less definite and at times confusing. When in doubt aim to keep central. By the time the ground levels out, any semblance of a path has disappeared but before you will be the reassuring sight of a boundary fence.

 

2. Although you have just completed a major climb if anything the next part of the walk is harder. First you need to pick up marker posts

 

which will put you on a peaty path. This will bring you to the head streams of Bleadale Water.

 

After a steep descent you will reach a narrow rocky path

 

that follows the stream down to its confluence with Langden Brook. Along this section it will not be easy to achieve a walking rhythm as you negotiate rock, water, peat and mud on the downward route. Here the sense of remoteness and isolation will be most keenly felt; so that when Langden Castle comes into view you may feel like giving a cheer! However you will have to cross Langden Brook to reach it and it may not be possible to do it dry shod.

 

3. Langden Castle is a castle in the same sense that the Forest of Bowland is a forest, i.e. it’s not a castle at all – it’s a shooting hut. At the Castle your way is left. At first on the track and then on a boggy path

 

leading off it. Keep ahead for 800yds.

 

The path will bring you back to Langden Brook which you will have to re-ford. Once across begin the climb to Fiendsdale Head.

 

The path will take you to the very source of Fiendsdale Water

 

along a steep sided valley. As it levels out it crosses saturated moorland to arrive at a ladder stile and a boundary fence.

4. Cross the stile and turn left on promising stone slabs.

 

When these came to an abrupt end follow the fence

 

for a little under a mile to the cairn that marks the summit of Wolf Fell accessed by a wooden gate through the fence on the left.

 

The only conditions that would make this straightforward would be found after a 10 year drought! Suffice to say that you will have to do a fair bit of bog trotting. From the cairn

 

go back through the gate and setting off at right angles to it aiming for the large cairn with a pole on the skyline to the south-west with a fence 100yds on your left. Between you and the summit of Fairsnape there is a fence to cross – its stile nearer the fence on the left. After this bear slightly right to reach the summit of Fairsnape. To complete the round head left for an exhilarating ridge walk

 

that will take you over Blindhurst Fell to Parlick followed by a steep descent to Fellfoot.