This is a neat 8 mile walk with 1500ft of ascent, up and over the highest hill in the Forest of Bowland at 561m. It’s higher than Pendle Hill away to the south, but as far as Lancashire goes, the post 1974 county that is, Gragareth and Green Hill on the ridge to Great Coum above Dent are the highest, 627 and 8m respectively. We used to park at Tarnbrook, but the new Duke, Monsieur Le Gros Veneur, is not a welcoming one and has had a sign erected on the road to Tarnbrook just south of Middle Lee ” no parking beyond this point”. There is space for two cars, or four if a digger has moved. The mile of road walking to the hamlet is above the Tarnbrook Wyre river for interest.
Take the first track north from Tarnbrook and climb steadily, past an aqueduct bridge (not the one from Thirlmere), and on past the track to Thorn Crag where a bunch of hardy climbers were there on this late November day with a chill easterly blowing. Ignore the next left track turning and carry on up a zig-zag, past a large parking area, over a dry gully and now on a path up past ten new shooting butts. After number ten the path peters out, but the going is fine if you pick out lines of grass, and eventually you’re on the flat plateau, with one trig point over at the east end, and a path from this to the west trig point where the eponymous and frankly disappointing Ward’s Stone itself resides.
South of here what looks like a new weather station has sprouted. A wide path leads down west to the depression below Grit Fell, where turn south on a good track. At the junction, identify a “Christmas tree”, as that what it actually is, a couple of hundred metres west up the slope: hardy fell runners decorate it every Christmas and sometimes forget to remove the trimmings for a few weeks! The open fronted luncheon hut in a hollow is indeed a good place to snack: try not to frighten the resident barn owl. Then its track all the way to the road and a short bit back to your car, past the rather grand but empty looking Higher Lee.
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