Chipping: Still a Good Walk
Fell-walker Andrew Stachulski follows in the footsteps of a Times correspondent who, seven years ago, discovered the delights of the Forest of Bowland. Photography: Helen Shaw
Readers of The Times will be aware of the feature ‘A Good Walk’, appearing in the Weekend section of the Saturday editions. It took the paper a long time to discover the Forest of Bowland, but they gave us a Bowland classic in April 2013 with a description of the fine circuit of Parlick Pike and Fair Snape Fell from Chipping. My walk is a variation-in reverse – with a built-in longer alternative that allows you to explore more of this splendid corner of Bowland.
From Chipping, where there is plenty of parking space and a good choice of refreshments, leave the village by the Clitheroe road and turn left at the junction by the war memorial. After a few minutes, turn left into the driveway of Leagram Hall and climb through the delightful parkland ahead, with lovely retrospective views of Longridge Fell, Pendle and the Loud and Hodder valleys. In medieval days, Leagram was one of the old Bowland estates while Chipping, which possibly dates from as early as 600AD, was outside Bowland. Place names here bear witness to those times, such as ‘lawn’ (or ‘laund’ at nearby Whitewell) which means an area of royal deer park.
Turn left at nearby Chipping Lawn Farm, following the clear farm track, eventually dipping to a pleasant stream and rising again to a minor road.
Cross directly, and beyond Saddle End Farm climb steadily up the long shoulder of Saddle Fell, one of the fine ridges of Fair Snape. The panorama gets better and better, but don’t underestimate Saddle Fell in mist – a map and compass may well be required! The track remains generally well defined. Once on the plateau, soon over the 1500 ft contour, watch for a junction of fences with the true summit of Fair Snape (1707 ft) immediately north east. Though not a distinguished summit in itself, it offers a great prospect of the heart of Bowland fells and the Three Peaks area when clear.
Here The Times route keeps you close to the fence, going south west and later south east, bypassing the west summit of Fair Snape and approaching Parlick Pike more directly. I recommend aiming for the west summit – there is a faint tread and the general direction is just west of south west for about half a mile. There is a fine four-way stone shelter offering protection from the elements, a big loose cairn which may or may not sport a wooden pole (Paddy’s Pole) and a nearby trig point. The view of the Fylde coast including Blackpool is most impressive – further north you can pick out the Heysham power station, a large section of Morecambe Bay and an inspiring sweep of Lake District peaks with Black Combe prominent above Barrow.
From the west summit, follow a track south east, faint initially, soon joining the classic, graceful arc of a ridge which links Fair Snape and Parlick. An interesting, longer way down can be found by taking a zigzag path down the steep south west flank of Fair Snape which leaves our main route in a few hundred yards. This brings you down to Higher Fair Snape Farm, from where you can follow a series of field paths passing close to Blindhurst and turning the south flank of Parlick. Eventually you reach a road junction below Fell Foot and rejoin the main route.
On the main route, the ridge is easy to follow but a delight. You climb gently from a slight dip in the ridge and soon reach Parlick Pike summit. The descent to Fell Foot is very steep, and may be slippery, but the views ahead remain excellent with Pendle, just south of east, now dominant. You can lessen the gradient by taking a right to left zigzag, in either case soon reaching Fell Foot, a popular location for hang gliders, often breezy and exposed. From here, you may simply follow the generally quiet country lanes back to Chipping via Fish House Lane or follow The Times route and reach the same point via field paths. Beyond Fish House, it’s easy going, eventually passing the neat cluster of houses at Old Hive and entering Chipping by the lane passing St Bartholomew’s Church, which you should certainly visit if you have time. All in all, a demanding but most satisfying circuit of about eight miles (main route) with excellent views and plenty of interest all through.
You can reflect on your achievement wandering through the village, with its narrow, 17th century centre and unique character, making a fitting end to your day.
Readers may also want to see ‘A Bowland Sketchbook’ by A Wainwright (Westmorland Gazette 1981) which contains a number of fine illustrations of the Chipping area in Wainwright’s inimitable style
Andrew Stachulski is joint author with Helen Shaw of ‘The Forest of Bowland’, published by Merlin Unwin at £14.99. Helen has also written ‘The Pennines’ and ‘Land’s End to John O’Groats’ also published by Merlin Unwin