BB1136 : The Leck Beck Trek

Wednesday 30th November 2011

Tony asked for a shorter walk due to his affliction.  He had been complaining about the corn on his big toe which he was going to remove with a Stanley knife.  However, Stanley suggested a Black and Decker electric plane which he assured Tony worked a treat on his corns.  In case Tony's were rather more stubborn, I volunteered a chainsaw, either a normal one or one that is on a pole in case he couldn't otherwise reach his big toe. He thanked us for the kind offers which he said he would bear in mind but nothing more was heard on the subject so presumably the Stanley knife did the trick.

Bryan, on the other hand, cried off completely.  It seems that three weeks in the Himalayas were not sufficient preparation for the ordeals we were likely to experience today.

He did, however, send us a brief report of his modest efforts- see Bry-Annapurna.

The BBC website says that the Landlord at the Highwayman Inn at Nether Burrow doesn't mind walkers parking in his car park.

That item was dated 2006 and much can change in five years but I am pleased to report that the present Landlord confirmed the arrangement and, in return, we promised to have a drink there after the stroll.  

I know it is a big sacrifice for us to make but we thought it only fair.

The Highwayman

Leck Beck Bridge inscription

Nether Burrow is an attractive hamlet spoilt by the fact that it is on the Kirkby Lonsdale to Lancaster main road.  The bridge over Leck Beck has an interesting inscription:

Will. Withers Clerk.
Nicholas Fenwick Esq.
Mr Tho. Nicholson.

Presumably the overseers of the building of the bridge.

After crossing the bridge, to the right is the site of the Roman Fort of CALACVM, meaning the Flower Basket.  It lay on the road from GLANNOVENTA (Ravenglass) to MEDIOLANUM (Whitchurch), between the forts of ALAVANA (Watercrook, Ambleside), 19 Roman miles to the north, and BREMETENACVM (Ribchester), 27 miles to the south.  Sadly, all is now lost beneath Burrow Hall.

Burrow Hall is a Grade 1 listed building, built in 1740, that offers a nod to its Roman ancestry in that the hall ceiling incorporates medallions of Roman emperors (as well as those of Newton and Milton).

Also, the main 1st floor room has a ceiling with corner medallions of the Labours of Hercules and a sunk panel of Flora being offered a basket of flowers, presumably a subtle reference back to CALACVM.

The hall was put up for sale in 2005 with the following information:

Burrow Hall

In the 13th century, the estate was owned by the De Burgh family, before passing to the Tunstalls of nearby Thurland Castle. Sold in the early 1600s to the staunchly royalist Girlington family, the estate was later confiscated and passed on to a Parliamentarian officer who built the first house on the site; in 1690, it was bought by John Fenwick, a lawyer from Northumberland.

In 1740, Robert Fenwick, Attorney General and MP for Lancaster, as well as being a keen amateur archaeologist, commissioned the architect Westby Gill to rebuild the house in its present form. In 1945, the Fenwicks sold Burrow Hall to the 6th Earl Temple of Stowe, who restored much of the interior. On the death of his widow in 1974, the estate was sold again and, in 1996, was bought by the present owners, who have made further major improvements, including the addition of a spectacular atrium linking the house to its original, Grade II listed stable block.

History lesson over, we can continue with the walk!  As we passed round the back of the Hall, we came across several items of interest:

A friendly Shetland pony

A massive circular saw on a track

A decorated wall

Several discarded baths

An unusual kennel

Distant view of the hall

We took the footpath on the north side of Leck Beck eastwards, across fields towards Cowan Bridge.  We went slightly wrong at one stage and failed to cross a stream by a footbridge.  This led to us having to take rather more drastic action to reach the other side a little later near Low Gale.  

Stan crossing the beck

From there on, it was and easy trail to Cowan Bridge

Leck Beck

The A65 weirs

Heading north briefly on the A65, I was interested in the disused railway bridge that crossed the beck.  

The Leck Beck railway bridge

Meanwhile, Stan and Tony were focused on a house by the side of the road with a plaque revealing that it had been lived in by Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte & Emily Bronte in 1824-25 when they were pupils of the Clergy Daughter's School (later to be moved to Casterton and take the name of that village).

The Bronte House

Looking upstream

Our intention was to take the footpath just a bit further north heading off to the east but there was a sign indicating that it was closed until May 2012 thanks to the likelihood of danger to the public due to the dangerous condition of the bridge at the westerly section of the path.  

The dangerous railway bridge

You can see from the photograph that the brickwork of the old railway bridge was not in a very sound condition but we did not think it sufficiently alarming to prevent us continuing.

Somewhat to our surprise, these footpath closed signs continued to appear as we headed along the north side of Leck Beck.  It was when we tried to find the footbridge over Leck Beck that we discovered why.  It no longer exists, presumably washed away in the floods of last winter.  This left us with a dilemma.  Should we retrace our steps which would be rather tedious or continue, no longer on a public footpath, until the next bridge, a mile or so upstream; a higher risk option but new (and possibly forbidden) territory?

Well, which would you do?  We carried on.  

Some of the going was quite tricky.  On one of the easier parts we spotted a cluster of what I first thought were stones but turned out to be ostrich eggs and there in the next enclosure was a group of ostriches running around.  

Eggs from .....

..... ostriches

Eventually we reached the footbridge shown on the map and it proved to be in reasonable condition and perfectly safe.  On the far side it had a Private, No Admittance sign but too late!

We had now joined the path through Spring Woods that was on our intended route. Progress had been slow and it was past Tony's lunch time so when we found a wooden hut by the river offering a veranda with plastic chairs, how could we resist?  Once again, the private signs were ignored.  After all, there was nobody there (and hadn't been for ages by the look of it) and we were not doing any damage, leaving any litter or otherwise causing an inconvenience to anyone.

Comitibus:  Leck Beck

Two feathers in Tony's hat

Replenished we continued to the next field then climbed up, with the path, to the track that eventually leads to Bullpot Farm. an area last visited on BB1033 or, more adventurously, on BB0714.  However, on this occasion, we headed south back down towards Leck, passing on the way the remnants of an Iron Age defended settlement with two internal hut circles, now hardly visible other than circular earthworks.

Castle Hill embankments

Once down in Leck we passed the school- closed today because the teachers were on strike along with other state employees seeking to defend pensions rights far more generous than those in the private sector- i.e. than those earned by the folk who have to pay the pensions of the strikers.

School closed by striking teachers

On the other hand, work was taking place in the St Peter's Church.  A side benefit of the strike was that the workman who had travelled from Blackburn found his journey ten minutes quicker today!

St Peter's Church

The coffin carrier

In the churchyard wall we found a strange inscription, a stone carved with two roses. Was it once a boundary stone for the red and white counties?  It's actually in Lancashire but not far from the white rose border.

Another strange feature was what seemed to be an obelisk in a garden.  Click on the photo to see what it really is.

The two roses

The obelisk

I did feel a chump!

Perhaps Leck's greatest claim to fame in recent times is that Mark Owen, of Take That, used to live there after the group first split up.

He played for the local football team and was very much part of the younger section of the local community.

However, he moved away several years ago after which his domestic troubles began and the second coming of Take That took off.

Take That house

Our plan was to pick up the footpath shown on the map as running from Leck westerly along the south side of the beck.  However, we were warned by a teenage girl who said she had lived there for sixteen years and no footpath existed.  Frankly, we did not believe her and told here it was clearly shown on a very recent Ordnance Survey map.  We thought it was a device to try and protect the privacy of her house so we continued.  It was rather hairy in one place where we had to cross a culvert with some rotten wood on one side but otherwise we had no problems other than finding ourselves on the wrong side of a fence along which ran a waymarked footpath.  Regaining the marked trail we continued to Overtown and then followed the minor road back to Nether Burrow to keep our appointment.

The Highwayman

The Highwayman's website admits that, as with all good legends, sometimes it's difficult to separate fact from fiction. That the Highwayman started life as an 18th century coaching inn, is generally accepted as true. Whether it was ever the midnight haunt of Lancashire’s notorious Highwaymen is a little less certain.  What is certain is that they could have done a lot worse if the beer then was as good as it was this afternoon. 

Thank you, Landlord, for letting us park.

Don, 30th November 2011



Bryan's recent absence from BOOTboys expeditions is because he has been undergoing a slightly more ambitious challenge, namely Annapurna.  He told us:

The weather hadn’t been good on the way into Annapurna Base Camp (only saw the high mountains fleetingly each day) and we had some rainy days – all of which is unusual for the post-monsoon period.

We were caught in a snowstorm on the way to our High Camp and this continued into the evening, eventually putting down about two feet of fresh snow. The decision was therefore made in the early evening that the summit attempt was off because of the high avalanche risk on the headwall.

High Camp and Tent Peak after the snow

Bryan's high point- 5,350 metres

The following morning was a glorious day (as it was for the rest of the trip) and we made an attempt on a smaller top called Rakshi Peak. Two lads made the top of this; three of us got within 100 metres of the top (5,350m / 17,552ft) before turning round because of time constraints; the rest turned round earlier.

Fixed ropes on a steep descent

Machapuchare (Fish Tailed Peak) at sunset

The descent was extremely tricky and the Sherpas had to fix ropes at several places.

But regardless of the top, it was a brilliant trip, with the day at, and above, High Camp being one of my best ever days in the mountains.

Bryan, 28th November 2011

Bryan kindly took some washing photographs for Margaret!

To see more of Bryan's remarkable photos visit Flickr.


The Gate, the Thieves and the Beggar

After reading the BB1134 report about Norber's Erratics, Hilary of Graham and Hilary fame, wrote to tell us more.  To find out what she told us, click on: The Gate, the Thieves and the Beggar.


The Landlord and the Sprog

Tony's discoveries of his links to the The Three Shires Inn continue.  
His latest communication on the subject says:

Talk about six degrees of separation!!

If we carry on like this we'll probably link George Washington to the Three Shires!!

Anyway, after the family funeral in Coniston last week, my sister-in-law turned up with a load more pictures including this one which shows the landlord William Parry (Pat's great grandad) and John Parry (the sprog) who is Pat's grandad.

I reckon it was taken circa 1903.

William  and John Parry

John, later known as Jack, can be seen in this photograph of Coniston men in 1914 before they left for the First World War.  Pat's great uncle Billy is also in the photo.

Jack Parry, Jack Coward, Billy Parry, Dick Barrow, Miles Wilkinson, Richard Major
 William Nicholson, Alan Barrow, W  Walker, Nick Carter

Fortunately, this group of men all beat the odds (one in six soldiers were killed) and returned home after the war.  William Nicholson was awarded the Military Medal.

Nick Carter later lost a hand in an accident at a quarry.  He used to walk around the village with a silver hook in place of the missing hand.


The Last Battle:

Tony, who likes to research such matters as you will by now have realised, has also discovered some interesting information relevant to BB1135 : The Princess, the King and the Tower concerning the retreat of the Pretender and The Battle of Clifton Moor.

First visit Clifton- The last battle on English soil and then follow the link to the eye witness account by Thomas Savage of Clifton End Farm, "a worthy member of the Society of Friends".




Thursday 17th November

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:

Leck Beck


Don, Stan, Tony

BOOTboys routes ares now being put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1136.

To see which Wainwright top (excluding Outlying Fells) was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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2011 Outings

BB1101 :
Wasnfell Revisited
Tuseday 11th January

BB1102 :
Recuperation Scar!
Thursday 17th February

BB1103 :
A Promenade of Pensioners
Thursday 24th February

BB1104 :
The B Team
Thursday 3rd March

BB1105 :
  A Little Bit Of Wind
Thursday 10th March

BB1106 :
A Linthwaite Round
Thursday 17th March

BB1107 :
Home From The Pulpit
Thursday 24th March

BB1108 :
Taking The Brunt
Thursday 31st March

BB1109 :
Up The Spout
Wednesday 6th April

BB1110 :
Not The Royal Wedding
Friday 29th April

BB1111 :
Kentmere Parts 1 & 2
Thurs 5th, Saturday 7th May

BB1112 :
Five Unknown Tarns
Wednesday 11th May

BB1113 :
Gurnal Dubbs Revisited
Thursday 19th May

BB1114 :
A March Through The Mist
Wednesday 1st June

BB1115 :
Brief Encounter
Wednesday 8th June

BB1116 :
Extraordinary and
Lesser Mortals
Wednesday 15th June

BB1117 :
Farewell David Daw
Wednesday 29th June

BB1118 :
West Side Story
Thursday 7th July

BB1119 :
st Side Story
Wednesday 13th July

 BB1120 :
All The Way From Barrow
Wednesday 20th July

 BB1121 :
Suitable For The Guests!
Thursday 28th July

BB1122 :
Graylings In Flagrante
Wednesday 3rd August

BB1123 :
The First Indecision Outing
Wednesday 24th August

BB1124 :
The Second Indecision Outing
Thursday 25th August

BB1125 :
The Tale of Tony's Triumph
Wednesday 31st August

BB1126 :
The Gunpowder Trail
Wednesday 7th September

BB1127 :
Four Lords a-Leaping
Thursday 15th September

BB1128 :
Heversham Head and Mhor
Thursday 22nd September

BB1129 :
Training For The Himalayas
Wednesday 28th September

BB1130 :
Turn Again, Whittington
Thursday 13th October

BB1131 :
The Windermere Three Peaks
Thursday 20th October

BB1132 :
Perfect Pies
Wednesday 26th October

BB1133 :
Ol' Men Rovin' 
Wednesday 9th November

BB1134 :
Erotic, Erratic, Improbable
Or What?
Thursday 17th November

BB1135 :
The Princess, the King
and the Tower
Wednesday 23rd November

BB1136 :
The Leck Beck Trek
Wednesday 30th November

BB1137 :
The Wild Wet Show
Thursday 8th December

BB1138 :
Of Mice and Men
Thursday 15th December

BB1139 :
The Old Stink
Wednesday 21st December

BB1140 :
The Castle and The Priory
Thursday 29th December


The Way Of The Roses
12th - 14th September

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To see which Wainwright
top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights
have been done by which BOOT
boy in the"modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on BB Log.