Monday, March 14, 2022

New stone way-markers on the hill

Written by Graduate Trainee, Christian Murray - Moon

Pendle Hill's dominating moorland habitat gives our landscape it's well-known appearance. The ambiguous characteristics (or lack thereof) that go along with this landscape, however, often make navigating by sight alone difficult. We have therefore installed a new series of stone way-markers on the hill to point our visitors in the right direction.

Although most areas of Pendle Hill are open access land, meaning walkers have the right to roam freely, we are hoping our new way markers will help people feel more confident when exploring new areas as part of our 'access for all' project. We also hope that marking existing paths will decrease the amount of disturbance people cause on the natural vegetation and habitats, particularly as spring is upon us soon and so will be ground nesting birds!

Image of a newly installed stone way-marker near the Nick of Pendle.

No task on Pendle Hill is without its challenges though, and installing each of the four 160kg stones around the hill has been no exception. But, with the help of local contractors Field & Fell, installation was carried out professionally with skilful labour and a can-do attitude, leaving each stone installed and quickly appearing as though it already belongs in the landscape.

This well-blended appearance is also helped by the golden-coloured sandstone material the way-markers are made from. Sourced from within Lancashire, sandstone is naturally present throughout Pendle Hill. The formation of this stone is evidence of remnant rivers which dominated the area over 200 million years ago along with a warmer, tropical climate which then existed, thanks to a closer positioning to the equator. Over time, the sand these rivers once carried has since been deposited and compacted by the weight of the land above to become stone. Millions of years in the making, this sandstone has then be quarried, cut and engraved by local stone masons of the Armstrong's group to help you on your way around Pendle Hill today. 

The first of our four stones is positioned on the well-walked track from the Nick of Pendle to the summit where this marker points, as well as to Mearley Moor. We hope this will encourage people to visit the less-explored plateau for views towards the Forest of Bowland peaks and North Yorkshire.

We have then positioned three markers close to Ogden Clough, the scar-like valley which runs through Pendle Hill from Barley where it is flooded with two reservoirs, to just west of the summit. One of the markers here is located at the top end, closest to the summit and at the end of the flagged path: pointing people on their descent down Ogden Clough. The next stands at the top of the dizzyingly steep path which leads out of the middle of the Clough and heads towards the Nick, giving a reminder to anyone who needs it after being disorientated by the Clough and climb. The last has been installed near Buttock at the lower, Barley end of Ogden Clough. Here it marks the fastest path to Barley to those heading down from the summit.

                                         Locations of each of the stones (Mapzone, 2022)

We hope that these way markers make it easier for you to find your way whilst out on the hill, although we still always recommend you take a map! If you see one up close on your travels, why not snap a shot and tag us on social media or upload it straight to our website to tell us where you're headed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Using data and evidence to direct our conservation work

Written by Leanne Tough - GIS and Projects Trainee for the Ribble River Trust

I joined Ribble Rivers Trust (RRT) as a trainee in November 2020 through the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (PHLP). The PHLP have helped fund traineeships within their own team and within other partner organisations. My year long posting has so far seen me create interactive maps of projects that RRT have completed, to organising woodland creation in Colne. This variety of work and training has been the perfect start to my career.

Being a river conservation charity, RRT are very aware of the multitude of threats our watercourses face. Many have been channelised and modified so heavily that they fail national tests of river health. Other threats include, but are not limited to, pollution, in-river manmade obstacles (e.g. weirs) and invasive non-native species (e.g. Himalayan balsam). This presents lots of opportunities for improvement.

But which issues, and at which locations, should we work on first? Which ones would have the greatest benefits for the environment, wildlife and people?

Screenshot of the GIS system used

There is computer software (called a ‘Geographic Information System’) that allows us to map all aspects of the River Ribble catchment. Using a wide variety of map-based data sets, from landscape features to the distribution of species and issues that are impacting them, we have generated computer-based models to map priority locations that need our help. What this means is, we have combined lots of data to find locations where tackling these issues could provide the greatest benefits for the environment, wildlife and people.

Three data sets we have are: locations where watercourses have failed their health tests due to agricultural pollution, locations at risk of soil erosion, and levels of obesity, inactivity and associated illnesses within local populations. What could help to reduce pollution inputs into watercourses, reduce soil erosion, and increase the health and wellbeing of local communities? Planting trees and creating leaky dams are two examples. They help to slow the flow of water and filter out sediment and pollutants before they reach the river. They are also great physical, outdoor activities for volunteers from local communities to get involved in.

Three more data sets we hold are: distribution of fish species, locations of in-river obstacles preventing fish movement along rivers, and lengths of watercourses isolated from each other. We use these datasets to decide which priority obstacle to remove to reconnect the greatest amount of river habitat for fish.

Used correctly and in conjunction with local knowledge and expertise, mapped data is incredibly valuable to us. With it, we can help make the Ribble catchment healthier for all.

Many woodlands, wetlands and fish passes were created through a project called Ribble Life Together. You can see them all mapped, here: https://ribblelifetogether.org/ribble-life-together-capital-works/. You can also check out our website for more information on the work RRT does: https://ribbletrust.org.uk/.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Walking Festival will 'highlight' wonderful Pendle Hill area

Written by The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership & Forest of Bowland AONB Sustainable Tourism Officer Hetty Byrne

One of the few positives to emerge over the last 18 months is seeing so many more people connect with nature and the outdoors during the Covid Lockdowns.  Many of us enjoyed our daily walks from home to local parks, urban green spaces and open countryside; This provided us with time and space to notice nature, the changing seasons and enjoy the simplicity of being outdoors and having more time to be present in those moments. 

As a parent of two youngsters of pre-school age and with no garden space in our town house, we certainly relished the time we spent outdoors during these times.  Our daily walks from home, while already familiar to us, gave us the opportunity to stop and notice so much more; We slowed right down, and all benefitted from it.  Our favourite walks in Clitheroe were a riverside circular to Brungerley Park and exploring Salthill Quarry Local Nature Reserve – what a gem, right on our doorstep!  My favourite part was my children's daily collection of seasonal leaves, feathers, pebbles or whatever caught their attention, which we'd leave as treasure to find on my brother's doorstep as we passed by each day.

As Lockdowns eased it got me thinking about how many people will have benefitted from these daily rituals but might not necessarily have the knowledge or insight about where else they can explore.  This led to the idea of organising a walking festival to highlight all the wonderful opportunities on offer in the Pendle Hill area, and also a chance to spread some of the visitor pressure from the same popular sites where people often flock.

 

Photo taken by Hetty Byrne during her Family lockdown walk at Brungerley, Clitheroe

From 18th to 26th September we're excited to present a 'new to walking festival' – Together for our Landmark - to further extend 'walking from home' and the connections made during Lockdown.  The guided walks will also be an opportunity for people to learn more about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.  We've got a varied programme from archaeology to herbal medicine, mindfulness to traditional boundaries and plenty for families to be involved, including buggy and Tramper-friendly walks.  The guided walks start from locations all around Pendle Hill including Nelson, Barrowford, Sabden, Downham and Spring Wood.  We've kept the walks to a maximum of 6 miles, but they include a variety of terrain, so we hope there is something for everyone!

The walks are free, but donations are welcome on the day, contributing to Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue and the Pendle Hill Fund.

For full details of the walks and information about how to book, please visit: https://www.pendlehillproject.com/new-walking-festival-2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Why you should take the time to explore our beautiful nearby meadows

Written by The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnerships Farming and Wildlife Officer Sarah Robinson.

In my role as the Farming and Wildlife Officer, I look after the Wild about Pendle project, which aims to reconnect people with nature and wildlife. Working with local farmers and volunteers we survey, restore and manage important habitats for wildlife across the Pendle Hill area, including species rich grassland and moorland. The Pendle Meadow Project was born as a result of working from home last spring during lock-down. Like the rest of the country, the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team was confined to home from March last year. Despite the obvious worry about the pandemic, this allowed time to develop new projects, and for me, this new project has been the Pendle Meadows Project.

 

Image of Bell Sykes Coronation Meadows in Slaidburn

Having spent time pouring over maps, making use of the knowledge I have of farms and other grassland sites in the project area and talking with members of the Pendle Hill Farmer Network I facilitate, I came up with a short list of thirteen meadows which I was interested in exploring further. Once I had spoken to all the owners and we were allowed to resume our outdoor work in June last year, I was able to get the project started. The sites range from large agricultural meadows the size of seven football pitches down to the smallest, which is 3 metres square.

I surveyed all the sites for their traditional grasses and wildflowers and then over the course of August and September last year, added in a range of additional species with seed collected from existing meadows across the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After waiting almost a year, I have just started to go back and resurvey the meadows, and it is fantastic to see the results. Yellow rattle, meadow foxtail and eyebright can be found flowering just the first year after seeding, whilst others such as red clover, knapweed, great burnet and rough hawkbit will take longer to establish.

 

Image taken by Sarah whilst carrying out her wild flower surveys 

As well as the additional wildflowers, the meadows are home to a wide variety of butterflies, moths, bees, grasshoppers and other insects, as well as small mammals such as bank voles. They are used as feeding sites by bats and summer visitors such as swifts and swallows. Meadows are a really important part our local biodiversity and support a large web of life, as well as being incredibly beautiful. Many of the sites in this project have footpaths running through them or are areas open to the public, and if you have a chance, now is a great time to visit before the hay is cut, take a look at Clarion House on Jinny Lane or Spring Wood in Whalley.

You can find more details on our website https://www.pendlehillproject.com/project/wild

Monday, August 9, 2021

Wildlife count a wonderful way to connect with nature

 

Written by Nichola Gill - Business Support Officer for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership

For the past few weeks I have helped organise a series of events called The Spring Wood Big Wildlife Count, which is taking place over the course of the summer. The first in the series, Wild Flowers and Bees, was held on Saturday 5th June at Spring Wood, Whalley.

Meadows and Bees Survey at Spring Wood

Having only recently joined the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team in February, I haven't had the opportunity to work from an office, meet with people face to face, or get as involved with projects as I perhaps could have done pre-covid. Given the restrictions, the majority of my work has been carried out at home to date. I've also joined over halfway through a well established project, as I am covering maternity leave until December, so it's obviously been a strange start to my new job. Now that we are finally able to get projects and activities up and running again, it was great to get outside and meet people in person at Spring Wood. This being said, I'm pretty sure my colleagues felt the same excitement that I did, as they have spent the last year only engaging with audiences online.

Alongside my colleagues Carol, Sarah and Alison, we joined 10 keen nature recorders, who helped us to identify and record the species living within this beautiful site. Some people used the iNaturalist app, which we are using as a database to collect our findings, whilst others used pen and paper. Common spotted orchid, red campion, germander speedwell, common mouse ear, cuckooflower and ragged robin were amongst some of the wild flowers logged. It was a fantastic event, and we had people of all ages and expertise, some being bee and wild flower experts, and others having no experience at all. The size of the meadow meant we could all safely socially distance and enjoy spending time with each other in nature.

 

Bumblebee on Red Campion

We have since held two more events, recording minibeasts on the 30th June, and then tree species on the 8th July. Spring Wood now has over 661 separate observations on the iNaturalist app, and we are hoping to build on this again, with two more events in the pipeline – looking at bats and fungi (dates to be confirmed).

In the meantime, why not download the iNaturalist app and record your findings at your own leisure, you could even take a trip to Spring Wood and help us build on our Big Wildlife Count.

Pease visit our website http://www.pendlehillproject.com/spring-wood-big-wildlife-count for more details, including a guide on how to use iNaturalist.


Screenshot of our findings on the iNaturalist App

Friday, July 10, 2020

Building a bridleway: a Trainee's story

Dom Hartley is currently employed by the landscape partnership as a graduate trainee. Joining us with a Masters degree in Conservation and land Management, Dom is working closely with our Access officer on a number of sites to learn about path construction techniques as well as gaining experience in contract and project management. Here is his blog:


The new Chatburn-Downham Concessionary Bridleway

As many of you will have noticed, either through following our social media channels or from travelling along the Chatburn Road to/from Downham in the last 6 months, work has been on-going to create a new bridleway connecting the two villages. Previously walkers, cyclists and horse-riders had no choice but to use the road if they wished to travel from Chatburn to Downham, which was a somewhat unsettling prospect given that vehicles are permitted to travel up to 60mph there.

The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership, with the support of the Heritage Fund, the Forest of Bowland AONB and the Downham Estate, are happy to announce the opening of the Chatburn-Downham bridleway which will provide the public with a safe and scenic route between the villages.

Early stages

Those of you familiar with the Chatburn and Downham areas will also be familiar with the prevalence of Roman history in the area. An old Roman road is speculated to exist, buried, in the vicinity of Downham/Rimington, a small section of which could potentially have overlapped with the proposed line for the new bridleway. Therefore, before any work could begin, we asked Greenlane Archaeology Ltd to survey the site to prevent any damage to any valuable archaeological evidence from Roman times. The survey took place in early February 2020; as many of you will no doubt remember the weather that month left a lot to be desired.




A top layer of turf and soil is carefully removed in order for the survey to begin

During a break in the hail, which was detrimental to visibility, archaeologists begin to examine the earth for signs of the old Roman road

After an extensive investigation on site, the archaeologists determined that the proposed depth of the bridleway works would not cause any damage to the old Roman surface, which likely lies just outside of the new track or deep enough beneath it that the work would not cause any damage.


The new route also runs close to a number of trees. Where ground works are located close to trees, protection of the roots must be considered. Forester and Tree Surgeon Richard Davis was retained to survey the area and calculate 'Root Protection Areas', which are used to determine the amount of protective material required to lay over tree roots to prevent subsequent ground works from damaging them. Terram and Geocell were used which ensures the continuation of essential air and water flow to roots and helps to distribute the weight of stone evenly, and this was installed below all sections of the bridleway where tree root protection had been identified as necessary.

Terram Geocell is visible in this picture. The roots of the tree on the left-hand side of the picture extend underneath the line of the new bridleway, and are therefore protected by use of the geotextile. Track material is then spread on top of it, ensuring both tree root well-being and a secure, comfortable surface to walk on



Construction Begins

Following the laying of geotextile in the relevant areas, ground works began in earnest. An area of ground was identified to ensure that enough space was afforded for a 3m wide track, comfortable for two-way traffic, with a further 2m of area suitable to support a hedgerow. A fence has been installed down the entire length of the new bridleway in order to protect and isolate the livestock in the adjacent field.

Initial work was slowed by the huge amount of rainfall we experienced in February; the machines needed for construction could not safely navigate such waterlogged ground without risking lasting damage to turf and soil. However, after the ground had dried in early March fast progress was made by Charlie Yirrell and his company CPY Excavations, beginning first on the 500m stretch from Chatburn to Greendale View Kitchen. The line of the bridleway, previously decided in consultation with the landowner, was excavated and a solid stony foundation was laid. Further aggregate was spread on top of the foundations then rolled flat. Subsequent good weather has baked the new track, creating a sturdy surface for foot, bike and hoof traffic.

Working carefully around standing trees, contractors lay a surface to create the bridleway


Heavy and sustained rainfall makes life difficult for machine operators; in addition to concerns about causing damage to the surface, the waterlogged ground makes driving machines difficult and unsafe


The extended good weather through April and May allowed for the making up of time lost in February. Then another curveball, the Covid-19 lockdown (from late March 2020), threatened to further slow construction. However, CPY Excavations quickly adapted safe, socially-distant work plans and risk assessments, and good progress was made regardless. By April, bridleway construction moved well into the second 500m stretch, from Greendale View Kitchen towards Downham.


Meticulous work on behalf of the contractors transformed a previously waterlogged field into a neat and even track. The verges were carefully left untouched, so that spring and summer growth will quickly cover any indication of recent works and help the bridleway to blend into the area 

By mid-May, track-work was complete and a new hedge, planted and watered through the drought by Ralph Assheton, is in position along the vast majority of the bridleway. Finishing touches were applied along the route, such as mounting blocks for horses, the installation of boulders for seating and a water-trough for thirsty horses. 

The final works required to make the bridleway a fully legal and safe was the installation of a series of gates along the bridleway where the track nears an exit to the road. You may spot the gates and at first be surprised by their spatial situation; they do not, after all, meet and form a barrier as normal gates would. In addition to prevent any attempted vehicular use of the bridleway, the main purpose of the gates is to create a holding area a safe distance from the road, where horse riders can see passing cars easily (and vice versa) before deciding to proceed from the bridleway onto the road. Additionally, when viewed head-on, the two separate gates will appear to a horse to be a single closed barrier, which will prevent any spooked animal from bolting into the road.

A safe distance from the road, the gates create a chicane which affords horse riders and drivers more chance to see each other before a crossing is attempted. Photograph by Graham Cooper.

From a distance, a horse will perceive the gates as a single obstruction across the track, preventing any bolting which may lead to a road traffic accident. Photograph by Graham Cooper.

As of mid-June 2020, the Chatburn-Downham bridleway is officially open to the public. We would like to encourage the safe and considerate use of the new route. Please stick to the track to protect the young hedgerow, pick up after your dog and take any litter home with you.  Please enjoy the bridleway safely!




Images by Graham Cooper








Wednesday, May 6, 2020

72 Seasons: how connecting to nature helps our mental health


 72 Seasons is part of our 'What's a Hill Worth?' project which seeks to understand the value our landscape provides to society, in this case, to our sense of well-being. 

Particularly during this time of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are finding that noticing nature, and especially the wonderful arrival of Spring life, can bring us joy and inspiration.

In this brief blog, the 72 Seasons co-ordinator Kirsty Rose-Parker reflects on the first few months of nature watching with participants, and how they have responded. You can see the rest of the article and the rest of the seasons here:


72 seasons is a year-long research project, to measure how being more connected to nature makes us feel. We do that through working with a team of volunteer seasonal seekers. We have planned a whole year where the seasons change every 4 or 5 days, originally inspired by the ancient natural calendar in Japan. Trying to notice the changes in nature, we are building a community around Pendle Hill who look a little bit closer, a little bit more often, even just from their gardens and windows as the world changes. 

Here we share the first results of the nature we have spotted, In 2020, we changed the season 'Winter' into 18 smaller seasons and asked our seasonal seekers to go out and about as much as they normally would, and see what they spotted.

The beautiful seasonal illustrations are by local artist, Cath Ford. Cath lives in Blackburn and she knows the nature we know. She is a very talented artist and we feel very lucky to be working with her.

Season; 1 - 4 January: The Earth is Unyielding 

Season; 5 - 9 January: Bare Branches are Stark






Originally we had planned that this season would be called 'Frost Adorns Bare Branches' but this was something our seasonal seekers disagreed with and so we chose a new season name to replace it, based on what our seekers saw. 

This image of bare branches was taken by
 Sam Root on 5th January 2020


This image of a misty Pendle Hill was taken by 
Stella Nuttall on 5th January 2020

For more of this blog head over to this site where you can also sign up to join the next phase.....