There is nothing like a walk at New Year so I am suggesting six destinations, five of which are very local to Burnley and one which, though it is a little more adventurous, is still within easy reach by car.
The Hall at Gawthorpe may be closed, but its grounds are still open to the public and the paths you will find there give access to a network of others which include one which takes in the site of the famous stepping stones at the bottom of Ightenhill Park Lane.
I do not know what you think, but I would rather have the stepping stones reinstated. The present day wooden bridge is OK, but there is little adventure crossing a bridge, however expensive it might have been. The photo of the stepping stones, used today, is from the Sutcliffe Collection which is held by the Briercliffe Society. The image pre-dates the First World War and was posted to the Home of Rest, in Lytham, in July, 1917. The card was made by the Nelson photographer and postcard maker Sam Crabtree of whom I must learn more.
Notice how the stones have been worn away by constant use. In their heyday, the stepping stones at Ightenhill were a great attraction and, on holidays, were visited by hundreds of people who took picnics with them to be eaten in the fields close to the stones. You will have heard of the famous stepping stones at Bolton Abbey – the ones at Ightenhill were almost as well known.
Another place worthy of your attention is Green’s Clough which is in Cliviger. There is some great walking country here but a visit to Green’s Clough is a bit like a journey through pre-history. The Clough is a product of the last Ice Age. It was created when a glacier carved out the Cliviger valley, some 15,000 years ago, when earlier drainage systems were - sort of beheaded - and converted into hanging valleys. Green’s Clough occupies the lower reaches of a decapitated valley. It is still a beautiful spot and well worth the effort to get there.
In Briercliffe I have chosen two places for you to visit. The first is easy to find and, to get there, you have to negotiate the mysterious Ogglty Cogglty, the steep path you can see in the trees on the right of this picture. This photo is taken in Runcklehurst (the oaken wood) and the bridge, over the Don, gives access to Briercliffe’s Lover’s Lane. Incidentally, the Don, at only three quarters of a mile, is the shortest river in England. Bet you did not know that!
My next site is more difficult to get to and winter is the best time of the year to make the attempt. Don’t be put off! It is not all that bad. You need to start at Thursden “the valley of the goblins” and follow the field path to the foot bridge over Thursden Brook near Monk Hall Woods. The Strid is in the Brook but you will have to wade into the water to get to it. If you are careful there should be no danger – I have managed it myself, and returned to tell the story, lots of times.
The Strid (or “the Stride”) has a bit of history. In the past it was the site of a “dare” which local children had to negotiate before they came of age. They had to leap from one stone to the other without getting wet. If you attempt this, all I can advise is that you come prepared!
The last of my New Year destinations is one of my favourite places, Kilnsey Crag which is between Grassington and Kettlewell, in Wharfedale. The Crag is a 170ft high cliff with a 40ft overhang much loved by climbers, including myself, when I was young. An accident, on Cadr Idris, in Wales, put an end to that activity but Kilnsey has other attractions, a great pub and some great walking.
Best wishes for the New Year.