Thursday, 9 August 2012

4/4 to Gawthorpe Hall

The weather forecast was excellent so another drive was planned that would take us along fell roads bordering the valley of the River Ribble, eventually turning south to Padiham and our target for the day, Gawthorpe Hall.

The River Ribble with Pendle Hill in the background

We made a quick stop at a splendid little shop in the village of Great Eccleston to pick up a couple of their excellent pork pies to sustain us and then wound our way through the Fylde, across the A6 and into the fells.

Fly fishing on the Ribble
The Morgan was performing well apart from a clattering noise that only occurred as we passed over rough road surfaces. It was a noise that I had heard in Brittany two weeks before and appeared to eminate from the offside suspension area. No cause for alarm as nothing had dropped off, but obviously something that I would try and track down when the car was back in its garage!

What a lovely valley this is, rich verdant countryside and charming villages, wonderful Morgan country.

Stonyhurst College
 We made a detour to see and to take a photograph of Stonyhurst College one of whose pupils was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who created the character 'Sherlock Holmes' and used Stonyhurst as the setting for his book, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.

J.R.R.Tolkien was a frequent visitor there between 1942 and 1947 and wrote part of the 'Lord of the Rings' in a classroom on the upper gallery of the college. He would take regular walks around the area with his son Michael who taught classics there in the 60's and 70's. It is said that Tolkien gained a lot of inspiration from the surrounding countryside and nearby Pendle Hill, maybe for the Middle Earths Misty Mountains or the Lonely Mountain.

The main drive to Stonyhurst College

Whalley, on the River Ribble is a delightful place where I should have stopped to take some photographs, but the prospect of a morning coffee and a cake in the National Trust cafe at Gawthorpe Hall beckoned.

The Hall is a Grade1 listed building and is described as "an Elizabethan gem in the heart of industrial Lancashire", situated on the banks of the River Calder.

I must say that we were less than impressed, there were no car park signs (more later), the grounds were somewhat unkempt, the cafe was far from impeccable and expensive, £7+ for two coffees and two pieces of cake!


Gawthorpe Hall
The very nature of the decor in the house made it rather a gloomy experience and we decided not to linger too long but make our way into the fells to enjoy the 'gastronomic extravaganza' that we had purchased at the pie shop! 

On our way out we noticed two NT workmen erecting a car park sign. They said that the previous one had been vandalised recently, not surprising when we learned that the grounds of the House are open freely to the public 24/7!!

This is a result of the property being held in partnership between the National Trust and Lancashire County Council. Say no more, it certainly explains all the shortfalls in presentation and quality elsewhere. Very, very sad.

We left very carefully, as I had grounded the car on one of the LCC's speed humps on the way in, although I always travel at 1mph over the blasted things.

The pies were eaten by the wayside, beneath 'Parlick', a fell in the Bleasdales and then we made our way, clattering a good deal on the appalling roads.

The pies were consumed in the shadow of 'Parlick' one of the Bleasdale Fells

I know and am proud that we have done so well in the Olympics and I think that it might have been a useful PR exercise, albeit perhaps only for London and the South of the country, but I do wonder when funds are going to be made available for the repair of all Britain's roads!!!

When I had laid the machine to rest I made a quick telephone call to Life's in Southport, who suggested that I jack the car up and bash/shake a variety of things in order to isolate the clatter.

In fact, on returning to the garage after the call, I think that I have already identified two likely candidates and will tomorrow buy some cable ties and investigate a part of the cooling system that appears to be knocking on the radiator under some conditions. The car will also be jacked up and everything shaken!!!!

One of the enduring joys of Morgan ownership!

This was a good shot I think.

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