Leader : Bill Golightly. Distance : 8 miles
Left click route & profile to enlarge
Bill reports :-
The forecast said rain –and it rained so waterproofs were the order of the day when we assembled, a round dozen of us, outside the Queen’s Arms in the delightful little village of Cockfield.
The village is rich in history and nowhere more so than the Common itself which was the starting point for our travels on the day. The largest Scheduled Ancient Monument in England it has over the years revealed artefacts from as far back as the Bronze Age and of course more recent evidence of its part in the industrial history of the north.
The walk was to be very much West out and East return and after passing the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery we entered onto the Fell properly. A vast 35 Hectare open space inhabited with numerous stables and pigeon lofts and grazed by beasts of various sorts it is covered with a veritable spider’s web of paths. We chose what we thought was the right one and for a good 40 minutes trudged the undulating ground until after a brief altercation with gorse bushes we negotiated a rickety stile onto a quiet minor road.
Crossing the road we joined an easy but, wet track leading after a mile or so to Peathrow East where we paused on the banks of the River Gaunless for our mid-morning refreshments. The rain by this time was still with us but signs were there that its intensity was on the wane. Earlier we had been somewhat alarmed when a small seaplane was observed apparently searching for a landing spot. Did the pilot know something we didn’t?
Elevenses over we tackled the tricky steep descent to the river itself and despite the overgrown vegetation we all made it to the crossing without mishap. A short muddy climb up the opposite bank took us to more civilised grassland albeit the recent precipitation had left underfoot conditions squelchy at best.
From this point we walked due east crossing 4 or 5 fields by way of stiles of various complexity until on reaching Copley Bent Farm where we turned due North and walked a short track to reach the B6282 road leading to the village of Copley which would effectively be the start of the return leg of our journey.
The walk along the roadway to Copley was pretty uneventful and frankly of little interest and soon we had passed through the village dropped down to the entrance to Gibbsneeses Plantation, known for its connection the Gaunless Lead Mine and the associated 300ft or so high brick chimney towering above.
By this time the rain had left us and things were gently warming up.so a convenient opening created by forestry activities provided a suitable spot for our al fresco lunch.
Post lunch, other than a few large puddles; the walking was easy and straight forward along clear farm tracks. We crossed a disused railway and continued to reach the extremities of North Wood which was to be the last significant section of the walk. The track alongside which led eventually to Burnt Houses was interestingly named Scotland Lane.
Turning right we entered the wood by negotiating a locked barrier with which the geriatrics amongst us had some difficulty. Regardless we motored on and soon entered the wood properly where there was still a degree of leaf cover in the canopy but where the fallen leaves provided a wonderfully colourful carpet.
Again the underfoot conditions were muddy and wet but easily navigable and we briefly paused for a while to take a look at one of the wood’s significant features, the ‘Houses’ Folly. Little information is available about the structure although evidence suggests parts of it may have at some time had residents.
A short final stretch through the wood saw us exit to cross Burnt Houses Lane and tramp over 3 or 4 grassy fields, each with dodgy stiles, to return the welcoming Queen’s Head and our cars.
An enjoyable drink and chat followed marred only by one member (who shall remain anonymous) who cruelly stole a chair from a juvenile, the deed being exacerbated by the fact the young man was about to sit on it at the time.
A good day out