After a couple of weeks in monochromatic, if sunny, Ottawa, it was nice to be out on a warm day in the bright green surroundings of the English countryside.
14 Plodders and Maude set off from Abbey Village at around 10.30, on this fifth section of the increasingly popular Lancashire Trail series of walks. As you can see, Maude was soon distracted by some friendly locals.
Stiles frequently hindered our progress on this walk, which took the Witton Weavers Way at times where the old route of the Lancashire Trail has fallen into obscurity, so keeping up with Reg’s cracking pace wasn’t too arduous today..
It was muddy...
...and raining...and slippery ...
For more, you’ll have to go to the slideshow link at the end of this posting, but the picture above shows clearly the gentleman from BT who latched onto us – he seemed to be walking backwards for much of the day, perhaps in search of wonky poles to Roger his way up and repair the ‘phone lines.
Here’s a stalwart of these excursions, Don – 'Mud Man' – a nickname for which he can thank today’s ground conditions! Maybe if he didn’t have the invaluable stick he would be ‘Roly-Poly Man’?
This was one of the drier sections of the walk - we've just crossed (underneath!) the M65 motorway.
Looking ahead from the site of the previous picture, we could see down to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, with Hoghton beyond, on what turned out to be a rather murky day.
Reg cracked on along the towpath before slewing to a breezy halt for elevenses in the shelter of a bridge. Fudge brownies seemed to go down well. They are so popular that some participants have started to make their own, hence some additional ‘cooking’ hints in the above link!
We then forsook the canal and headed to the River Darwen, where a massive weir was built during the industrial revolution in order to slow the pace of the river. With today’s rain it looked a bit like Niagara. R Norman (61) felt that it needed a human presence along its length to present the viewer with a sense of scale, so, being an obliging sort of soul (with a brain the size of a pea – he doesn’t read these reports – don’t tell him I said that!) he strolled over to oblige.
“Don’t do that at home” he announced, after being fished out of the river.
After drying Norman out, we passed under this magnificent viaduct that houses the railway line linking Preston with Blackburn. The old brickwork shows no sign of deterioration.
Hoghton Bottoms is home to a businessman who has a selection of commuting vehicles. Amongst his 4WD vehicles is a Microlight aircraft that he uses for commuting to work in the summer months.
It was good to see large swathes of snowdrops in flower at Hoghton Bottoms, though the delicate flowers were sheltering tightly from the rain.
"Hello, my name's Alan” announced the BMC Nuffield 10/60, in a rather weary voice. “I live in a cave."
“At least I’m out of the rain” he commented, positively.
Muddy fields featured strongly in today's walk. The weather was 'driech' – laying siege with cats and dogs at some points, like here, near Billinge Hall, where we should have had views to the suburbs of Blackburn.
Perhaps it was just as well that it was misty!
I found it impossible to keep the rain off the lens.
We lunched on a wall outside a pub. Anne went in, but came out again. A long lunch wasn’t on the agenda so we made do by exchanging stares with diners in the posh dining room just the other side of our wall. The pub has recently been expensively refurbished. Clogs and the billycock were the favourite attire of a landlord who took over this 150 year old pub in the early 20th century. Clogs were also worn by local mill workers, and their boss or charge-hand was always identifiable by his lowcrowned wide-brimmed felt bowler hat - the billycock.
Eventually our destination, Mellor, with its distinctive spire of St Mary's church, came into view - up a final, laboriously boggy hill.
After a short lecture from the font of all knowledge on the art of passing through slurry, we consulted the back of his hand and took evasive action. There was still one little ‘hop’ that some found challenging … but help was on hand, so to speak.
Anyway, we soon reached the pleasant village of Mellor, which is full of enticing pub signs. Some carefully positioned cars were soon located, and after a short drive to reunite others with their transport, we were back at the Hare and Hounds in Abbey Village – by coincidence the same Hare and Hounds that we had to leave so abruptly after stage 4 of this epic adventure.
Anne proudly advertised her new sponsor, whilst the rest of us nipped in to sample the Black Sheep, etc. Very nice it was, too.
We had walked about 16km (10 miles), mostly in the rain, climbing a modest 400 metres or so, but no particular hill as such, in around 4.5 hours. Here’s the route we took:
Apologies for the delay in this report. I have excuses. And I have a poor memory and a dodgy camera, so I also apologise for any minor factual inaccuracies and insults within the text and the images. Reg’s factual and timely report can be found on this page, and my 32 image slideshow is here.
See you next time, I hope. The date for stage 6 is currently a closely guarded secret in an attempt to control the ever burgeoning numbers of folk coming on this excellent (whatever you may infer from the text) series of walks.