We are on a walk from Chipping in Lancashire taking in a circular route besides the Whitewell gorge. The landscape is a mix of ancient deer park, woodland-copse, river-ford and agricultural hamlet. It’s hard to believe that the 358.9 million year old Carboniferous holds sway just a few feet beneath my boots.

Our walk places a sandstone landscape cheek by jowl with a karst of limestone. Chipping sits on sandstone formed in shallow seas of sedimentary layers of silt, whereas the hamlets to the north sit upon limestone created from seas rich in carbonate, corals and shelly fauna. The change is sudden and distinctive: in one moment I’m taking in the long view down to the Hodder and the next I’m deep within a gorge surrounded by knolls dotted with bluebells and the sound of a cuckoo.

Lime Kiln near Knot Hill

The clues are there for all to see: the roofs that protect the older buildings of Chipping are made from sandstone. The yawning expanse across the ancient deer park at Leagram wouldn’t be possible without its stable sandstone base. Whilst the limestone walls that carve up the landscape around Dinkling Green and Fairy Holes are supplemented by lime kilns and sink holes. Chipping has the feel of the Peak District whilst Fairy Holes has a splash of the Yorkshire Dales. This landscape is unique.


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