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A moorland stroll to the UK’s finest gastropub – the Parkers Arms, Lancashire | Journey

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here are two methods for a walker to work up an urge for food. Tramp over moorland and collapse right into a pub to scarf a pile of carbs. Or do a delicate pastoral ramble, so you’ve sufficient power to understand the awaiting meals. As my Bowland outing was going to conclude on the Parkers Arms – the UK’s no 1 gastropub, its 12th finest restaurant and gold medallist on the British Pie Awards – I attempted the simple choice. That stroll may be discovered right here. It’s a pleasing, well-trodden route however, frankly, lazy. How are you going to justify a full-on feast with out burning off just a few energy?

So I believed once more and determined to incorporate Easington Fell, the good-looking hill that presides over the villages of Newton and Slaidburn. I began on the latter, as a result of I’d chosen it because the place to spend the night time, and since it’s a fairly little place. It sits on a curve within the River Hodder that’s referred to as Jam Pot Nook as a result of that was the title of the teashop that used to promote day-passes to anglers; a fly-fisherman was working the beat once I handed. It’s residence to a YHA in what was once the Black Bull pub, a busy native historical past archive – you’ll see outdated clogs within the window show – and the Hark to Bounty, a training inn that has been right here for the reason that 16th century.

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It was referred to as The Canine till 1875, when the squire of the village, who was additionally the rector, popped in along with his looking occasion for a pint. Their consuming was disturbed by loud baying from the pack outdoors. Above the opposite hounds might be heard the howling of the squire’s favorite canine, which prompted him to name out “Hark to Bounty!”

A bridge over the River Hodder.
Newton Bridge over the River Hodder. {Photograph}: Shaw and Shaw/The Guardian

Go away Slaidburn on the street south, passing the Grade I-listed St Andrew’s church, Glebe Home (the outdated vicarage) and a faculty. At a curve not 10 minutes out of the village there’s a gatehouse for a rustic property referred to as Dunnow Corridor. Observe the monitor on the left to the banks of the River Hodder, which you observe to Newton-in-Bowland. This mild, flat part will help you heat up your muscular tissues. A well-used path leads via sheep fields and alongside the sting of Nice Dunnow Wooden.

After about 1.7 miles, you’ll come to Newton, the place you’ll be consuming and eating later. Like most locations with “new” of their title, Newton is historical. It’s within the Domesday E-book as one among Roger of Poitou’s Yorkshire possessions. Like in a lot of Bowland, you get a way that aside from just a few electrical automobiles, Waitrose vans and TV aerials, not a lot has modified over the centuries – although the village is now in Lancashire. The Parkers Arms takes its title from a household of park keepers who grew to become landowners when Henry VII disafforested the Chase of Bowland – eradicating its looking rights and restrictions. A part of this stroll is over widespread land.

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Cross the bridge over the Hodder and switch left to stroll alongside the riverbank alongside a partly flagged outdated approach bordered with wildflowers. Cross a few fields, cross via a farm gate on to a lane and stroll alongside to Robinsons Barn, turning a pointy proper on a monitor signed for Fellside. Cross the brook and undergo the farm gate in your left right into a sloping area.

The Forest of Bowland is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Forest of Bowland is an Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence. {Photograph}: Shaw and Shaw/The Guardian

From right here it’s a very good slog as much as the highest of Easington Fell. The footpaths via the fields should not all the time clear so use Ordnance Survey’s OL41 map in addition to these directions. Mainly, you observe partitions and fences all the best way to the highest, skirting woodland and passing a barn with a catslide roof. Take breathers to look again and also you’ll see a few of Bowland’s greater central fells, in addition to Newton and Slaidburn. Near the highest the view actually opens out to absorb the Trough of Bowland – a steep-sided cleft scoured by glaciers – and the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

The place the grazing fields flip to moorland there’s a band of area sedge riven with streams. This marks the boundary of dry dwarf shrub heath, acid grassland, marshy grassland, blanket bathroom and bracken – a morass, briefly, that may be tough after heavy rain. You could have to hop round a bit. Be careful for nests on the bottom. Just a little greater up there’s bilberry and, on prime, swathes of heather. The fell has a ridge however the official paths via it drop down towards a street and a quarry.

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Get your puff again on the extent areas across the summit. Easington, at 396 metres, is a Marilyn (rising at the least 150 metres above every little thing in its neighborhood) nevertheless it’s a harder climb than Pendle Hill – which you may also see from right here. I noticed a kestrel hovering. Rarer birds of prey equivalent to merlins and hen harriers inhabit Bowland however in vanishingly small numbers; the British Belief for Ornithology estimates solely 700 pairs of the latter in your entire UK. Earlier this yr, police had been asking for info to assist examine the disappearance of a satellite-tagged hen harrier right here.

The descent is alongside a large monitor which passes via farms and lodging for shooters and an property as soon as owned by TVR proprietor Peter Wheeler that operates clay pigeon shoots. Parked up outdoors a barn was a bizarre all-terrain miniature tank-looking car apparently used within the Falklands.

The Parkers Arms has won a string of awards.
The Parkers Arms in Newton has gained a string of awards. {Photograph}: Shaw and Shaw/The Guardian

Bowland is one among Britain’s strangest locations. It’s an Space of Excellent Pure Magnificence however large elements are given over to grouse-rearing, with the controversial burning and, allegedly, unlawful raptor persecution that goes with it. Thinly populated, it feels distant and wild, however a number of the land belongs to the wealthy, together with non-residents. King Charles, as holder of the Duchy of Lancaster, owns the close by Whitewell Property. In addition to grouse and pheasants, there are sheep on the fells, nibbling at something inexperienced. There’s virtually no public transport, so that you want a automobile, taxis from Clitheroe or Lancaster, or a motorbike. Uncover Bowland’s Eco Escapes web site of itineraries is value a glance although, as some corners may be reached by practice.

All this makes the area alienating or alluring, or each. A variety of Bowland solely grew to become open to walkers when the Countryside and Rights of Approach Act 2000 opened up “entry land” for the needs of open-air recreation. You’ll see indicators right here and there – although Bowland is unhealthy on signage, maybe as a result of recreation managers and ramblers should not pure allies. Strolling is more and more a political act – and the Forest of Bowland AONB appears destined to develop into, like Dartmoor, a hotspot in the case of strolling.

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