Grit Fell and Clougha Pike

11th November 2020

Today I'm back in the Forest of Bowland walking Grit Fell and Clougha Pike on the north western edge of the district. What was supposed to be a mixed day of brightness and high level cloud turned out to be quite the opposite leaving the moorland looking bleak which as a fell walker you've got to embrace, bleak is beautiful or so the saying goes. I left home later than usual to allow any lingering cloud to clear but if the sight of low cloud over Winter Hill and the southern Bowland Fells were anything to go by it looked like I wouldn't be seeing much.

The good news was Clougha Pike was clear but only just, but that was good enough for me. The walk starts from a little free car park just off Rigg Lane from which I'll pick up the Shooters Track almost as far as Grit Fell summit. Walking along a track good enough to drive your car over seemed odd but the track split the moorland and for the best part, the track was forgot about. Descending Grit Fell to Clougha Pike sure made up the effortless ascent though, it was mud and bog all the way, and not just any old mud and bog, this was Lancashire mud and bog, the wettest, and deepest of them all.

Ordnance Survey OL41
Forest of Bowland & Ribblesdale

Ascent: 1,263 Feet - 385 Metres
Summits: Grit Fell - Clougha Pike
Weather: Overcast With Some Light Rain, Breezy Over The Tops. Some Sunshine Towards The End Of The Walk. Highs of 13°C Lows of 12°C
Parking: Rigg Lane Car Park
Area: Forest of Bowland
Miles: 6.2
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL41
Time Taken: 3 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Rigg Lane Car Park - Birk Bank - Ottergear Bridge - Shooters Track - Grit Fell - Clougha Pike - Clougha Scar - Rigg Lane Car Park

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA2 9EH
Grid Reference: SD 526 604


Map and Photo Gallery


Red Grouse on Birk Bank 11.00am 13°C
I was surprised to find the car park almost full with only three spaces left one of which I nabbed befrore proceeding to kit up behind my car. whether I was just being lazy or not I decided against adding my gaiters, a decision I would later regret. Just as I was about to leave another car pulls up but its occupant, a ederly man leaves the engine running which I could still hear as I passed through the gate onto Birk Bank bound for Ottergear Bridge.

Heading for Ottergear Bridge, Birk Bank.
It's a bit too early for a sit down yet.

Ottergear Bridge.
Not really a bridge as such Ottergear Bridge is actually an aqueduct which carries the Thirlemere pipeline through to Manchester.

The Three Men of Clougha.
With Otterbridge behind me I continued to follow the grass path over Birk Bank before arriving at the bottom of the Shooters Track. It was here I am passed by a couple heading down and 'mornings; were shared. The track climbed steadily and never far from view where the three stone cairns known as the Three Men of Clougha.

Clougha Pike seen far right.
Continuing to follow the Shooters Track Clougha Pike came into view from where a narrow path lead through the moorland towards its summit. Anyone ascending Clougha Pike this way was in for an easy day which is why I guess Clougha Pike is so popular. My route however, continues along the Shooters Track towards the abandoned quarries and a rather interesting piece of art.

Heading towards Grit Fell via the Shooters Track.

With the flanks of Clougha Pike now behind me I continued along the Shooters Track which goes 'around the back' of Grit Fell, it does feel the long way round to reach Grit Fell - the only alternative is to make an 'off the path' ascent which I would imagine wouldn't be too pleasant and would probably upset the local wildlife including hundreds of Grouse.

Art in the Countryside by Andy Goldsworthy.
The stone structures can easily be reached by leaving the Shooters Track and were worth a closer exploration. On reaching the structures I met a local fell walker and we had a chat about what we were looking at .Marvellous aren't they' what are they I asked? Art he replied with the slightest bit of sarcasm in his voice, tell you what though, I've been up here many a time in the wind and rain and had my lunch in there, the stone work is actually top quality. Personally they look a bit on the spooky side to me.

Caton Moor wind farm.
Enjoying a little sunshine I see.

The bigger picture.
Just a spell then...

Ward's Stone from the eastern slopes of Grit Fell.
I made an abrupt right from the Shooters Track and continued a while further until I arrived at a white wooden stake, it was obvious I was to leave the track here which I did before joining the peaty, and very boggy slopes of Grit Fell.

Grit Fell summit cairn.
It looks like the cloud is about to drop so with no time to hang around I made my way towards the summit wall.

Marker Stone, Grit Fell summit.
Here I cross over the ladder and follow the summit wall until it comes to a stop further ahead.

Clougha Pike seen over Plover Moss.
Why oh why did I leave my gaiters behind. The peaty bogs of The Nab come to mind!

Looking back on Grit Fell.
Where the cloud has come down.

Clougha Pike summit Trig Point and Shelter.
A large group of walkers had just left leaving me with the summit to myself which was very kind of them but as it goes it started to rain so with that I make my hasty descent towards Clougha Scar.

Clougha Pike from Clougha Scar.
It's a pretty rugged descent with muddied boulder and heather to negotiate.

Dramatic views over Morecambe Bay.
As dramatic the view is it started to rain again but as with the last few showers by the time you think about adding a layer or waterproofs the shower has passed.

The River Conder from Otterbeck Bridge.
I continued to follow the stone wall via Windy Clough which indirectly lead me back to Otterbeck Bridge by which time the sun had come out and it was really starting to warm up.

Askew Hill from Birk Bank.
It's certainly starting to feel like a day of two halves.

Little Crag (far right) from Birk Bank.
I'd thoroughly enjoyed exploring another corner of Lancashire today and to top things off I've even ended the walk in what feels like Spring like sunshine. It's time to head back to the car, scrape the layers of mud off my boots and head home but before I do that, it'll be a quiet lunch while sat in the car.


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