Lancashire Walk - Wharles, Elswick and Roseacre
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 September 2014
Keith Carter explores the countryside in a part of the Fylde that's home to a variety of birdlife and a submarine observation station
Walking in rural Lancashire’s Fylde has its charms. For one thing you are unlikely to meet other walkers. There are mainly cyclists who seem to favour the lack of hills hereabouts. The nearest high ground is the Bowland massif, visible in the distance like a shadow on the horizon to the east.
The word ‘fylde’ comes from Old English ‘filde’ meaning a plain. Gates, stiles, field paths, these are the only obstacles in this area but it is not a natural location for walkers. There’s a distinct lack of way marking. I don’t say there isn’t any, there’s a bare minimum. Generally speaking the stiles and gates are maintained to an acceptable standard and the footbridges are strong but I’d like to see a group like that in Mid-Cheshire who zealously walk the footpaths brandishing secateurs and carrying a hammer and nails and arrow way marks with them to make sure the job of keeping the footpaths open is done properly.
Perhaps as the popularity of rambling grows it will bring more people to the area and landowners will have to wake up to the realisation that they have obligations to the walking public.
On my visit to research this month’s walk with my adjutant Jim we chose to park in the deserted car park of the Eagle and Child at Wharles. Take the road opposite, Moorside, and in a few hundred yards look for a stile partially concealed in the right hand hedge just past a gateway.
Enter a field and follow the left hand hedge then cross through it so it’s on your right to pass a strip of woodland, Wharles Wood, which has a newly-built kissing-gate entering it.
We don’t take this but keep forward over a stile, following the boundary which does a dog-leg before reaching a cart track. Cross this to a stile and maintain the same direction across the next field, due west.
The one thing you are never far from in this area is the masts of HMS Inskip or RNAS Inskip as it is properly known, rather a blot on the landscape by day and night, the red warning lights on the highest masts visible from miles around. Its purpose is radio communications to submarines and we haven’t got many of them, have we?
I suggested to Jim that our progress on the walk was probably under scrutiny via satellites tracking what we were up to and we could expect a police Landrover to screech to a halt and throw us in the back for interrogation.
He said if that happened he would refuse to hand over his binoculars, he’s only just bought them!
The fields were populated by the usual birdlife, oyster catchers, lapwings and mallard and there were hares, racing away to seek shelter in the hedgerows. A walk of this nature can be rather repetitive, one field leading to another, at this time of year growing crops impeding progress and causing detours around field edges.
Rather than give a series of instructions to follow step by step, our route keeps to the same direction passing South Greenhills Farm and arriving at the quiet settlement of Medlar where we pick up a tarmac lane. Beyond Medlar Hall Farm we enter an enclosed lane, our direction turning north and heading for Elswick. The main road through Elswick, Lodge Lane, is where we find the pub, The Ship, with pleasant garden, just the place to enjoy a pint on a fine day. At this stage of our walk a pint was welcome since it had taken two hours since leaving the car.
The next mile or so is on the road, the B5269, passing the village shop, the Methodist church and the old Non-Conformist chapel and graveyard said to be the oldest in Lancashire before leaving the village behind.
This stretch of road can’t have changed much in the last 50 years. I used to cycle this way on an old upright Raleigh bike with Sturmey Archer gears, the butt of mirth among my workmates who once attached a handwritten sign that read ‘Carter’s Fresh Meat Deliveries’ to the crossbar.
We remain on the road until reaching a T-junction where we turn right, continuing until we are past the extensive farmstead of Crossmoor Farm.
Take the stile on the right beyond the farm, the footpath beside a huge barn then we enter the next field by a second stile and follow the left hand hedge line to a third stile brings us into a field that in early June had a fine crop of barley growing but not yet ripe. The trouble was it had been sown with no margin at all so walking along the very edge was difficult.
Fortunately the next two fields had a grass crop for silage and the walking was easier although the stiles were in poor shape, making getting over them a problem.
When we came to a footbridge over a stream it was heavily overgrown with elder which Jim wrestled with like a man possessed.
Once across the footbridge there is no evidence of a continuing footpath across the intervening field. Looking ahead there is a red brick house and we go right past it and to do this you should turn right and walk along the field margin until you are opposite a gateway then head directly across to it, crop or no crop. The gate has a way mark on the other side so we know we’re on a right of way.
A cart track leads to the house, Stanley Farm, and we follow the access lane to meet the road at a T-junction with a bench. Turn left on the lane passing the masts and scattered buildings of RNAS Inskip on the left.
On entering Wharles nobody could be unaware of the opposition to the plans to extract shale gas locally. There’s an enormous potential underneath our feet but locally they don’t want it extracted. There are arguments on both sides but it would be a rash householder in these parts who put up a sign saying Yes to Fracking.
Our return leg is all on the road. We go through Wharles then at a T-junction turn right bringing us back to the forecourt of the Eagle and Child.
Area of walk: Wharles/Elswick/Roseacre
Distance: 10 miles approx
Time to allow: 4-5 hours
Map: OS Explorer 286 Blackpool and Preston
Refreshments: The Ship, Elswick
Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs