Bowland & Pendle Walks
Littledale & Clougha Pike
Date: 29th April 2011
Distance: 10.1 miles
Ascent: 1857 feet
Time: 4 hours 40 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD546617
An idyllic walk in the bluebell woods of Littledale followed by a ramble on the moorland of Clougha.
Route Summary: Little Cragg - Crossgill - Gill Plantation - Littledale Hall - Skelbow Barn - Grit Fell - Clougha Pike - Outlet Well - Baines Cragg - Little Cragg
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: One of my favourite sights in springtime is a woodland floor carpeted in bluebells. When I, some time ago, purchased Paul Hannon's walking guide 'Bowland' and saw a walk described as a 'bluebell walk' I knew that some day I'd have to do it. As Lisa and Rhiannon were going to a party to celebrate the royal wedding it seemed like the perfect opportunity, and time of year, to do it.
The route, as described, is a fairly gentle amble around the quiet Littledale area on the far north-western fringe of Bowland. To extend the walk I took the opportunity to climb up on to the moor to revisit Grit Fell and Clougha Pike.
Starting from the Little Cragg parking area the initial section was along a very quiet minor road before the first bluebells of the day were sighted in Carr Wood. The next few miles exploring the woods, fields and streams of the little valleys in this little corner of Lancashire was truly idyllic.
Hannon's description of this as a 'bluebell walk' was spot on, they seemed to be everywhere. Of the many fine gatherings of bluebells on the route the finest were to be found on the north bank of Ragill Beck just east of Littledale Hall. The route circles round the upper and lower section of this stretch woodland and contains perhaps the best display of bluebells that I've yet seen.
While busily taking pictures I was passed by a couple who told me that they had also first heard of these woods from the Hannon book and that this was the second time they had come to see the bluebells. Somewhat surprisingly they were the only other people I saw in the first half of the walk.
After crossing Ragill Beck at Littledale Hall there was then another lovely section along Foxdale Beck before crossing over into the next little valley to cross Udale Beck. Shortly afterwards at Skelbow Barn I left Hannon's route for my detour up on to the moor.
My next objectives were the tops of Grit Fell and Clougha Pike. My only previous visit to these two tops was back in January 2007 where low cloud had mostly obscured the views. On this occasion it was the haze. Having said that I at least did have a view from the top of Grit Fell - the summit outcrop on the top of Ward's Stone was particularly prominent.
Particularly noticeable on this section of the walk was how dry the ground was. The path between Grit Fell and Clougha Pike is quite peaty in places but the recent sunny weather had dried it out and in places I almost bounced along it as it was so springy.
The one disappointing aspect of the walk was the lack of really good visibility from Clougha Pike. Situated as it is this rocky summit should provide fantastic views of Morecambe Bay and up towards the Lake District. On two visits now I have been denied this view. However it is such a fine spot I will no doubt return again another time.
The final part of the walk was a descent off the moor using a wide shooting track before following the road back to the car, passing along the way Cragg Wood where there were more bluebells to be seen.
This was definitely a walk of two halves and as much as I enjoyed them both it was definitely the first half of the walk in Littledale that was the most memorable and one that I most certainly hope to do again.