Bowland & Pendle Walks
Clougha Pike & Grit Fell
Date: 25th October 2014
Distance: 7.7 miles
Ascent: 1400 feet
Time: 4 hours 30 mins
With: Tim and Dan
Start Grid Ref: SD526604
My third and so far best visit to Clougha Pike and Grit Fell in the far north-west of the Forest of Bowland including a look at the Andy Goldsworthy sculpture on Clougha.
Route Summary: Rigg Lane - Ottergear Bridge - Clougha - Andy Goldsworthy sculpture - Grit Fell - Castle of Cold Comfort - Shooters Pile - Clougha Pike - Clougha Scar - Windy Clough - Rigg Lane
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: This was my third visit to Clougha Pike and Grit Fell in the far north-west corner of the Forest of Bowland. In my opinion Clougha Pike is one of the best 'bits' of Bowland but on my two previous visits I didn't enjoy the best weather - low cloud back in 2007 and then a bright but very hazy day in 2011. On this occasion I was joined by Tim and Dan from Bowland Walks.
Starting from the car park on Rigg Lane near Quernmore we decided not to head directly for Clougha Pike so as to leave that for the end of the walk. The reason for this being that although it was an overcast start to the day it was supposed to brighten up later in the afternoon. Instead we followed a track northwards towards Ottergear Bridge. Despite the grey skies overhead the autumn colours still made this section of Conder country quite colorful.
Shortly after crossing the bridge we joined a shooters track that climbed, quite steeply in places, up on to the moorland of Clougha. At about the 300m contour we made a short detour on a thin path to two cairns and then, a bit higher up a further set of three cairns. Rejoining the shooters track we then continued along for another mile and a half until we reached another thin path branching off to visit an old quarry which is now adorned by a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy.
Although I'd visited Grit Fell and Clougha Pike before this was the first time I'd come this exact way so this was the first time that I'd seen this sculpture. Consisting of three stone built pillars hollowed out so that there is room to stand in each it is a striking feature. I'm not entirely sure what it is supposed to be called, some people on the internet have named it the 'Three Chairs' but that seems to refer to something entirely different almost half a mile away south of the path between Grit Fell and Clougha Pike. Other people call the scuplture simply 'Clougha Pike'.
As it was a fairly windy day we took advantage of the shelter provided by the sculpture to eat our lunch before continuing along the track until we reached the broad col between Grit Fell and Ward's Stone at Cabin Flat. As we turned off the main track to head west on to the top of Grit Fell the cloud covering Ward's Stone finally cleared and large patches of blue sky finally started to appear.
From the top of Grit Fell we made another detour, this time south to the stone structure, probably an old shelter, marked on the map as the 'Castle of Cold Comfort'. Tim informed me that this had inspired a song by a local folk group called Ottergear. From the Castle of Cold Comfort we worked our way round to the large cairn called Shooters Pile before joining the path leading to Clougha Pike.
Although Clougha Pike is really just a shoulder of Grit Fell it manages to feel like a separate fell. The summit, mounted by a trig point and a couple of stone shelters, stands dramatically at the top of Clougha Scar, an extended gritstone edge that is fairly rare in Bowland. It was also very exposed to the wind and Dan and I took turns to stand on one of the outcrops and lean out into the wind. On the clearest of days much of Lakeland, the Isle of Man and even Snowdonia can be seen from Clougha Pike. It wasn't quite that good but it was still much better than on my previous two visits, the highlights being the views of the Yorkshire Dales and of the Lancashire coastline.
Half way down the path descending alongside Clougha Scar I suddenly realised I'd left my camera bag and map in the summit shelter. With Tim already pushed for time I set off back on my own and thankfully managed to retrieve my items. It was a shame we didn't get to finish the walk together, on the other hand it did allow me to enjoy this section twice! This excellent walk concluded with a nice finish in the colorful surrounds of Windy Clough.