Philip Lord’s walking challenge

Our 82 year old Chairman, Philip Lord, has completed his 500 mile walking challenge!

Philip's walk route

Each day (except from Sundays when he does it twice!) Philip has been walking from his home and completing a 4.7 mile circuit of the area, known as The Ring of Whitewell. Philip’s initial goal was 100 miles, but he has now completed 500 miles.

Alongside his four-legged friend Freddie, Philip is hoping to raise enough money to cover the thousands of pounds of extra costs the Ribble Rivers Trust has incurred as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Your kind donations help Ribble Rivers Trust to conserve and improve the River Ribble, and the rivers across Lancashire and North Yorkshire that flow into it, for wildlife, for people, and for the future generations.

Please scroll down for Philip’s fundraising updates.

Philip’s fundraising updates
22nd March

“First, I would like to thank everyone who has so generously supported the Trust, myself and, of course, Freddie on our 500 mile walk around the ‘ring’ at Whitewell.  Donations are still coming in, online, through the post, over the gate and out of passing car windows.  I am very hopeful that they will cover the cost of our enlarged office, which will achieve effective, safe, social distancing for our staff.

During this difficult year they have been working from home, as well as in the great outdoors, and both Jack Spees, our CEO, and myself feel that is important for them to be able to work together, bounce ideas off each other, but in a safe environment. They are a wonderful team, each with their own skills, and have achieved great results in difficult circumstances. This week I have been joined by one different member of staff on six walks and it has been very enjoyable, very informative and a pleasure to talk to them individually.

By coincidence, a restoration project that the Ribble Rivers Trust has been working on, Primrose Nature Reserve, is being officially opened on the 26th March, for public use. This former mill lodge, made by damming the river, was typical of the use of our rivers in textile manufacturing, with very little thought of the damage to wildlife and its’ habitat. After the decline of the cotton industry and mill closures, sites like this have become derelict over many years.  A fish pass, the longest in England, has been built and this will allow fish to migrate up Mearley Brook for the first time in two hundred years. This eight-acre site will now be a green lung for the people of Clitheroe and a haven for wildlife.

The reason I have been walking 500 miles is to support the RRT in efforts like the above; tree planting; the education and appreciation of young people about the natural world and to try to combat climate change in any way we can, and to leave a better natural world for future generations.

Joan and I, both keen gardeners all our married life, have noticed how weather patterns and climate are quickly changing.  We can now grow plants that did not flourish in our early days here.  We often had snow and frosts until early April, followed by periods of drought, while now, we have occasional short-lived snow, but we have milder, very wet winters, with floods- all over the country. The extreme weather conditions that we are experiencing resulting, for example, in shortages of water, moorland and forest fires and winter flooding we all now know are all signs of a changing climate and is detrimental to all wildlife and people.”

8th March

Since my last update Freddie and I have reached just over 400 miles and, after walking twice a day around The Ring for quite a while, I know that it can become a little repetitive. So I thought that while I am still in lockdown, I should tell you a little about The Ribble catchment area which covers over 750 square miles, with a population of approximately one and a half million; so much more than the little corner I am walking. The Ribble rises just south of Hawes in North Yorkshire and flows down to the estuary at St Anne’s, and encompasses the main tributaries, Rivers Hodder, Calder, Brun, and Douglas, together with all their tributaries and smaller side streams. So, as you can imagine, it covers industrial areas, large and small towns, villages, and huge areas of farming; all with differing needs.

Lancashire has always had plenty of water and a moist climate, ideal for cotton spinning and weaving, and what had originally been a cottage industry, with spinners and weavers working from home, quickly spread from valley to valley.

The Victorians, (great engineers and entrepreneurs) took advantage of the climate, the terrain, and the abundant supply of water to turn Lancashire into a thriving cotton Industry and Yorkshire into a great woollen manufacturing area. The water supplies were harnessed, dams and mill ponds created, and mills sprang up throughout the valleys. New machinery filled these mills; new homes were built to house the workers; towns expanded more and more and there was a rapid rise in the population. Consequently, the rivers quickly became polluted and treatment of this pollution took a back seat for many years. Records show that the netsmen on the Ribble Estuary in 1868 caught over 15,000 salmon. By 1900 they caught one.

In Burnley, the Victorians had built the rivers Calder and Brun into deep, narrow, fast running engineered channels to remove the sewage from the town. The Trust re -engineered these channels to reinstate them back into a more natural river and built fish passes on the weirs. Within 24 hours of the work finishing a sea trout ran up this new river system and later in the autumn some salmon followed. These would have been the first migratory fish for over two hundred years. You only need to give nature a chance.

When we surveyed the catchment area, we found over one thousand obstructions to migration. A good number of these have already been made passable but there are many more to be done.

Onwards and upwards we go Freddie, sounds as though we are going to get wet this week!

2nd March

““Since I started this challenge on the 7th January, Freddie and I have reached 366 miles in total, as we are now doing the walk twice a day, most days.

As we leave home, the weather really determines whether we turn left or right as we go out of the gate. This week the weather has been mixed, with rain at the beginning of the week, then, on Tuesday, gale force winds and fierce driving rain. As we reached the top of Hall Hill from Whitewell I could not stand upright and walked down towards home bent double! Very wet and cold we were glad to reach home!

Then spring arrived, with wonderful clear days when I could enjoy my surroundings and contemplate the lives of people who had lived and worked here long before my time. Life in winter must have been hard with no proper roads, no transport – not everyone could afford a horse.

As we move up to Hall Hill from Cow Ark, we pass Park Gate Farm and cottages and the entrance to Radholme Laund which was one of the two deer parks or launds in the ‘Forest of Bolland ‘. Up here the curlews were back in numbers, as were the lapwings, tumbling in the air, with their distinctive ‘pee-wit’ calls. Later that day a flock of redwings was swarming over the field behind our house. A real foretaste of better weather to come!

Circe 1937 the royal family bought the Whitewell estate from the Townley family of Burnley and are still the current owners. We went to a celebration of their fiftieth Anniversary of purchasing the estate, held at Dunsop.

There is so much history to be found about the Forest of Bolland and there are various sources to be searched in reference libraries! Joan gets carried away with it all, but this walk is about the help the Trust needs, so I will try to curb her enthusiasm!

In 79AD there was a Roman garrison at Ribchester where they started building a road to the North, and on an old map of The Forest of Bowland it is shown passing through Radholme and Whitewell, then North to Croasdale. If you stand at the top of Jeffrey Hill on Longridge Fell, you can see the line of the road as it passes through fields at Cow Ark and upwards passing Browsholme.

There were two deer parks in the Forest, Leagram and Radholme. The keepers of the Forest were responsible for the deer, the woodlands and the maintenance of the enclosures and each keeper was allowed two horses. These were Royal hunting grounds, surrounded by eight foot wide ditches, four feet deep with three rows of hawthorn and on the outside of the thorns was a high fence of oak palings -” the pales”, all to keep the deer in and any poachers or wood stealers out!

Pale Wood was probably one of the boundaries of Leagram Laund and the remains of some of the boundaries can still be traced on old ordnance survey maps. In 1555, at the beginning of the reign of Mary Tudor, Leagram was declared to be no longer a royal park. (Scarcely any wild cattle or deer left, and the trees and undergrowth have been laid waste to keep up the Pale, or deer fence. Sir Richard Shireburn was granted the tenancy of the land with permission to fell trees and make enclosures.

The Forest, or Chace, of Bolland covered an area of 40,000 acres plus the area of Chippingdale, (Little Bolland), 4664 acres. This area of forest was divided up into vaccaries and pastures, which were farmed out to various tenants and held by generations of the same family without change.

Some of the same family names are still common in the valley, but perhaps more of that later!


22nd February

“By this week Freddie and I have reached 300 miles and have walked 63 times around the ring at Whitewell, which was my first target. Donations are growing but we still need to do more, so I am aiming to do another 200 miles in four weeks. It’s quite a demanding schedule for this 82-year-old, but I am determined to carry on. Hopefully the weather will continue to improve- the first curlews have arrived, a sign every year that spring is on its way. Freddie is doing well but does need an odd day off to have a free run off the lead.

In Col. Parker’s introduction to Bolland History:
Bolland means the land of the cattle – derived from the Norse Bu, meaning cattle, hence Bulland, now Bowland.
The Forest of Bolland was indeed a forest with a good growth of trees and two royal deer parks.

Over the forty-five years that Joan and I have lived at Cow Ark we have noticed a great change in weather patterns. One of the many things that the Trust is doing is planting many more trees to help combat climate change, along with the help of our dedicated volunteers.

Please do circulate as much Ribble Rivers Trust material as you can to help the Trust, and visit their website to find out more about their work:

Thank you for your support.

16th February

As Philip edges ever closer to his fundraising goal of £2,000, he has sent us another weekly update to share with you.

“This week has been bitterly cold, with an east wind and, in exposed places, lying snow and ice on the roads. However, the walking has been enjoyable.

At Cow Ark we are 600ft above sea level and can be above the snow line, but the highest point of the walk is the top of Hall Hill, which overlooks Whitewell and the River Hodder, with the Trough of Bowland in the distance above Dunsop Bridge. This week the views have been magnificent with the snow topped fells all around. The ring from Cow Ark goes through the beautiful Duchy of Lancaster Estate. The Inn at Whitewell would, in normal times, be the perfect pit-stop.

This week has gone well, and I expect to pass 300 miles by the end of February, with the intention of going on further.

I have changed my schedule slightly, as Sunday afternoon is ZOOM Day with the Lord family, including Stephen in Minneapolis (where tonight the temperature is forecast for -30 centigrade- and we think it is cold here)! So, I am now going to walk two circuits on four days and one circuit on three days. This schedule will enable me to do fifty miles per week through the beautiful Duchy of Lancaster Estate as usual, and will allow Freddie to have runs off lead on his favourite short local walks for three afternoons a week with Millie and Tigger, our daughter’s two Labradors.

Thank you to everyone who is supporting the Ribble Rivers Trust with your donations, including the gentleman who stopped on Hall Hill and offered a lift to a snow covered stranger and dog. After I had explained what I was doing he gave me a donation of twenty pounds for the Trust. Thank you!



Philip is getting extremely close to his new target of 200 miles, and today we have an update from Philip himself!

“On Thursday 7th January I started walking around the Ring at Whitewell, a distance of 4.7 miles. As I have become fitter, I have gradually increased the number of walks per week.

During the last week, 31st January to 7th February, I have walked 12 circuits bringing the total mileage covered to 188 miles.

This week we have had very varied weather, from brilliant sunshine on Monday, when all the birds were singing as I walked along the wood sides, to a beautiful snowy day with all the trees and hedges covered on the Tuesday, with no birdsong and little traffic, and then really heavy rain on the Saturday.

Freddie has been a stalwart companion, but I am not certain that he will walk every walk with me because he likes a change of direction and a run!

The only drawback to walking this time of year is the amount of clothing needed in inclement weather, but once I am togged up I enjoy the exercise, and on a cold wet morning a cup of coffee and a piece of homemade parkin is very welcome when I come home.

A very big thank you to all the people who have supported us so far. Donations have come from USA, South Wales, and many local people.

So here we go again – the next target is 300 miles.


Philip has now raised over £600 of his £2,000 target with his walking challenge and has already beaten his 100-mile target! But there is no stopping Philip, and he has already set a new goal of 200 miles

So far Philip has completed 23 circuits of the Ring at Whitewell, and as well as doing the walk twice on a Sunday, Philip has also been extending the walk on some days with an extra climb to the top of Hall Hill and back.

Freddie is also enjoying his challenge and has accompanied Philip every step of the way. In fact, despite Hall Hill being a push, both Philip and Freddie are finding it easier as time goes on. So far, the only things that have stood in their way were Storm Christoph, and a whiteout in the snow.

It’s an amazing personal achievement for Philip at the age of 82 years old, so thank you very much for supporting him!

Your kind donations help Ribble Rivers Trust to conserve and improve the River Ribble, and the rivers across Lancashire and North Yorkshire that flow into it, for wildlife, for people, and for the future generations.