- Start: Inskip
- End: Inskip
- Country: England
- County: Lancashire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Derby Arms, Inskip.
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool and Preston
- Difficulty: Medium
Keith Carter braves the mud, and some cows, as he explores the countryside around Inskip
This years weather was uniformly dreadful, the worst since records began etc. etc. as we are often being told to remind us how bad it is. When have we ever heard that a month has been the best on record with wall-to-wall sunshine and weeks of prolonged sunshine?
For walkers it has become inevitable that the day arranged for a walk will start wet with just the chance of a let-up half way through followed by further rain coming in during the afternoon so it is pointless to cry off at breakfast just because of the rain. So imagine my surprise when I woke to a sunny day. Not wanting to miss a chance for a glorious days walking, I grabbed the rucksack and map and headed nto the quiet countryside with a walk near Inskip in mind.
Inskip appeared in the Domesday Book as Inscip which derives supposedly from a Celtic word meaning an island in a bowl or hollow. There is little sign of islands, bowls or hollows today although it is just possible that at one time the sea came this far.
The village was quiet with only a postman on his rounds and the church, described by Pevsner as a very restrained affair with paired lancets was closed and silent. Most churches have abandoned the practise of leaving the door unlocked now. Too many thefts and burglaries by unscrupulous people with no respect for form and ceremony. This is a shame since parish churches are the spiritual heart of a community even if their congregations may be sparse. They bring people together for weddings and christenings and at times of sadness too and we would be the poorer without them.
The other prominent landmark here is the masts of what we used to know as HMS Inskip, the radio tracking station for the Navy, at one time an airfield for the Fleet Air Arm. The runways were dug up and the rubble used for when they were building the M6.
I resorted to roadside parking on School Lane and set off on an access road that serves a few cottages on the edge of the village, leaving the childrens play park on my left as I departed. The lane does a turn to the left then the right and after the last cottage at Skidholme Cottage leave it and take a clear footpath away from any habitation.
At a gate with a gap stile beside it continue ahead towards a wood where we come to a choice of paths. Ours keeps forward to cross a footbridge over a stream then goes left and stays beside it on the right then at a gate goes right along a right hand field boundary.
Negotiate a pond by walking to the left following the fence around it then go alongside a wood to find a stile in the fence directly opposite. I should point out here that some of the gateways in this area are badly trampled by cattle and are very muddy and the fields themselves seem terribly wet after so much rain. Boots and gaiters are the order of the day without question.
Follow the right hand boundary through the next field to its end, cross a stile at a spot where there is a farm building to the right. Cross a broad meadow heading towards a line of trees and aiming for the right hand end where we find a concrete roadway laid for access to the fields.
The matter of cows in fields is likely to present itself on this kind of walk. This is dairy farming country and the fields have a purpose, to let the cows stuff themselves with grass. I have read that a dairy cow now produces three times as much milk as fifty years ago so you can imagine for yourself how much greater yield the fields must produce than ever before. This can only be done by fertilisers and we are creating an environment that is basically man-made in order for our cows to produce what we need.
The cow is a milk machine, pure and simple, and we walkers must accept them even if they make us feel a bit uneasy at times as we walk through their fields. Most of us can cope with a field of cows even a crowd of frisky heifers who are easily chased away if they come too near.
Bulls are a different matter, some people are too alarmed to enter a field with a bull in it. It is actually against the law to keep a dairy bull over ten months old in a field with cattle but how is one to tell how old a bull is? Personally I wouldnt stop to assess the bulls age if it came towards me at a gallop. Id be over the fence in a flash. Then theres the problem of walking with a dog in fields full of cows which I would not do although nine times out of ten everything will be fine.
The concrete track leads to an area used as a dump for unwanted farmyard rubbish and approaches a large farmstead, Stanley Farm. In order to avoid walking through a busy farmyard you can take a diversionary footpath via a stile before you reach the farm and join the road to the left of the buildings. Cross straight over into a field and follow a dead straight field boundary on your right to where a bridge crosses a dike. Cross it and take the stile on the left, an odd affair with brick buttresses and a stone slab then stay alongside the dike.
We keep ahead to a wood which we go into, cross a footbridge then come out of then take a stile on the left to enter the wood again briefly then exit at a further stile. We next follow beside a line of trees and a dike to cross two stiles at right angles to each other followed by a footbridge cross over the dike which we have been walking beside. Turn right over the bridge then left at the next stile, soon reaching a tarmac lane at a bend. Keep left and walk on the lane to where it joins a road again at a bend.
Road walking follows for a while, passing the end of Moss Lane which is signposted as the way to Great Eccleston. The road does a dog-leg and just past a house called North View look for a stile on the right. Take this footpath on a broad field margin and you come to a stile by a pond. Turn left here and walk to where you meet a lane.
Turn left on this and after a single bend see a stile with footpath sign beside the gateway to Blue Moor, a stables. Proceed beside a hedge on your right, cross a stile into a copse then out the other side, cross a stile with a stone slab across a dike, turn left and at the next stile turn right and enter a narrow path between houses that leads to the access road which we took on first setting out.
By turning left we come back to the play park and the place where we left the car. Should you need a drink, the Derby Arms pub is along the road to the left, the name a reference to Lord Derby who owned the land hereabouts.
Area of walk: Inskip
Distance: 41/2 miles
Time to allow: 2 21/2hrs
Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool and Preston
Refreshments: Derby Arms, Inskip.
Not suitable for wheelchair users.