A wintry walk on the Forest of Bowland fells

11th February 2013

I thought I might try to get out for a short walk somewhere local on my day off. The district was Bowland, or more commonly known as, The Forest Of Bowland in Lancashire, located just east of the city of Preston (I still can’t get used to calling Preston a city)

I had four closely grouped fell choices in mind, that of Parlick, Fair Snape Fell, Wolf Fell & finally Saddle Fell with a lovely ridge section named Nicks Chair in between Parlick & Fair Snape Fell.

In all, the walk should take me around the three hour mark with intentions of getting home just after lunchtime, I had my weather window which was looking positively bright from sunrise to sunset with possibly some westerly wind gusts but nothing I should really worry about…

My only slight surprise on arrival was just how much snow was covering the fell tops with the snow line starting at a surprising 200 Metres level. The snow looked fresh as if it had just fallen only hours ago which indeed it had, my next niggle was although Parlick was only a mere 432 Metres in height, I could only just make out the top of it.

Things could get interesting as the memories of an easy morning on the fells suddenly fade.



Ascent: 1,356 Feet
Summits: Parlick – Fair Snape Fell
Weather: Mono Conditions Throughout The Morning, Bitter & Windy On Tops, Turning Brighter Towards Noon, Highs Of 3°C Lows Of 0°C, Feels Like –8°C On Tops
Parking: Road Side Parking, Fell Foot Farm
Area: Chipping, Forest of Bowland
Miles: 4
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL41
Time Taken: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Fell Foot – Parlick – Nicks Chair – Fair Snape Fell (Paddys Pole) Parlick – Fell Foot

Map and Photo Gallery



Fell Foot Farm 9:00am 0°C

It was a bitter morning as I kitted up in a small layby not 60yards back down the track, the wind blew & whistled around the open fields which nipped at my exposed skin. I didn’t expect it to be so cold I thought to myself so firstly, on went the jacket.

Firstly let me note that I lost my Mammut beanie hat whilst I kitted down after our Coniston walk last Friday, I remember placing it on the roof of my car as I finished off my sandwiches & coffee, distinctly noting to myself, do not drive away with your hat on the roof.

Guess what?

So I can categorically state that it wasn’t just Ian who lost his beloved hat last week, I did too.

Of course I have a spare beanie in my O R (Outdoor Research), but it doesn’t stink like my old Mammut beanie & it certainly hasn’t the memories of Lakeland either.

A “you’ve got no one else to blame sulk” bears down on me as I kit up at the tailgate of the car, isn’t it odd how attached you get to the simplest of clothing?

I pick myself up in the notion thinking, hang on Paul…you haven’t lost anything for ages whilst on the fells, not since you lost your Lowe Alpine beanie whilst traversing the Wast Water Screes…

I think there’s a pattern forming here don’t you?

Lets press on.


Taking on Parlick.

After passing through Fell Foot Farm are you presented with two obvious path choices with a map stating ‘you are here’ The map has a light coating of snow over it so rather than wet my gloves I pay it no attention.

I take the left path, this one being a little easier on the legs than the right direct path


As I ease my way up the hillside I pass another mapped sign post, very handy & a little touristy I thought to myself.


Parlick Fell summit shelter.

It wasn’t long before I reached the broad summit top of Parlick where the wind cut through me so bitterly. Here I took out my digital anemometer which was reading a -13°C wind chill.

It seems for now, I am back in the freezer but for now at least I have visibility.


Fair Snape Fell as I descend Parlick.


Passing Wolf Fell

It’s the second to bottom line that I was concerned about, it seems this area was used as a tank range sometime during the Second World War.


Wolf Fell.

Fair Snape Fell is over to the left so why did I stick to the right of the wall? Its your choice really & on any other given day both paths will take you to the summit, I however didn’t take into consideration the effects of the snow drift.


Which was knee deep in places with very slow & tiring progress.


I think in hindsight the ‘better’ path was on the other side of the stone wall which in most places was barely visible, I just had to press on through the soft white stuff.



This frozen kissing gate would almost allow me to cross the stone wall now as I neared Fair Snape summit, all except the foot of snow drift the gate was under, not allowing me to open the gate no matter how much I tried, in the end I had to hop over to the other side feet first in more snow drift.


After a little tiring ascent Fair Snape Fell summit comes into view, and so did…


This chap.

The last thing I was to expect this morning was to see anyone else on the fells given the conditions, it was a nice surprise as we crossed paths, morning I say as I wipe a drip from my nose, the guy peels back his hood & takes out (unbeknown to me) his Ipod headphones. Morning the young lad says, you out for the whole day? no mate just a few hours, what are your plans I ask? I’m going to work the young lad says, and before I get my next words out (which where, your what!) he asked did I see the diggers on the other side of the ridge? I didn’t mate what are you doing up here with the diggers I ask? Were profiling all the heap hags he says, we fenced the whole area off last year & we’re doing our best to control the hags (on the small research I did on the area it came to my attention that some of the hags can reach up to ten feet in height)

Wow I say, at the same time I cant help but take in the smell of tractor oil emitting from this young lads clothing, I have only admiration for you I say, what a job, I failed to ask if he & his team were contractors or volunteers, but either way I had to admire the guy walking to work in conditions such as we had today.

I’ll spare the guy a thought the next time I’m stuck in traffic & think, just how easy my morning commute can be.


Paddys Pole summit cairn.


Fair Snape Fell summit cairn & trig point found close by.


Holme House Fell from Fair Snape Fell.


Peet Hag profiling.

From the summit I soon spot, or rather hear the diggers the young lad had told me about, he hasn’t reached them yet, if I was him I’d ring ahead to get the kettle on!


Not soon after leaving the summit for Saddle Fell did the cloud roll in.

It was decision time, with Fair Snape Fell behind me as I locate the path for Saddle Fell, however the path soon disappeared under snow drift & relocating it despite my map & GPS was proving neon impossible, in my worsening conditions I had no option to call Saddle Fell off & end the walk a little earlier than expected.


Back at the kissing gate when my mood improves.


Through the mono I make my way back over Nicks Chair & Parlick Fell (R)


Now on the other side of the wall as I descend with equally menacing yet beautiful snow drift.


Wind & snow.


A brief view of Fair Snape Fell from Wolf Fell.


And the Bleasdale valley as the views start to open up a little from my decent.


Looking over to Saddle Fell & Wards End (my would be descent route) The low cloud is still clinging to the tops over in the left of the picture.


I flank the summit of Parlick by a path that ran along its broad side, here offering views towards Chipping as the sun tries to break through.


The patch work fields of Chipping under sun burst.


Almost back at Fell Foot Farm now.

A little deflated I had back to the car, my bones shudder so I keep my coat on until I make the short drive to Bleasdale Village where I plan to eat an early lunch & maybe get a hot drink down me.


Parlick & Fair Snape Fell as I head into Bleasdale for lunch.

Would you believe it, the sun came out – & stayed out!


St Eadmer’s Church Bleasdale, 1885

I make the short drive to Bleasdale & locate the hidden gem that is St Eadmer’s church, Inside at this moment are a party of walkers that I have followed up since parking my car back at Bleasdale Primary School.


It can be difficult when dealing with a weather blow such as I had today, cutting the walk short was always the right decision but that doesn’t take the blow out of the punch, maybe I will return in summer & complete my round minus the snow drifts of course.


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