Today was the day allotted to a meeting of East Lancashire LDWA’s ‘Plodders’ – those members of the Long Distance Walkers Association who prefer not to stick their heads under their arms and bash out 20+ miles on every outing. It’s sort of unofficial, being outside the LDWA philosophy, but around twenty of us took the trouble to assemble at the Hare and Hounds in Holcombe Brook, so there must be demand for these ‘Plods’.
I chose to travel by tram to Bury and leave myself an hour and a half for the stroll up to Holcombe Brook. Metrolink put the mockers on that when the Bury tram headed unexpectedly off towards Rochdale. “Sorry, we took a wrong turning” apologised the driver. So we all got off at Monsall and headed back to Shudehill for a second attempt at getting to Bury. Passengers were pretty much resigned to the half hour delay, which is pretty routine for Metrolink.
That meant I had an hour to get to the Hare and Hounds, 8 km away. I spent the first 15 minutes supping coffee from the station cafe in the pleasant surroundings of Bury’s Unity Garden. The sculpture in the foreground depicts the River of Life, and the cherry tree was laden with blossom.
My walk to the Hare and Hounds then took place at a speed that wasn’t exactly ‘plodding’ pace. After passing Bury Ground and some nesting swans I crossed the River Irwell and headed up to Burrs Country Park, the site of much industrial archaeology, such as this stone bed of a mill steam engine.
A procession of students with adult minders was then passed during the next few km – D of E novices with big rucksacks and flapping maps. Soon after the country park, this huge weir was encountered, and a very pleasant path led alongside the river all the way to Summerseat.
The Peel Tower lords over the outskirts of Bury, it’s pictured here across the Irwell.
At Brooksbottoms a steam train surprised me as it shot out of a tunnel. Then my route took a turn to the west, through the lovely Woodhey valley (pictured top) to the Hare and Hounds.
A two hour pause in my walk to enjoy lunch with the Plodders was followed by a quick return to Bury along the disused railway line through Tottington. These entertaining sculptures are encountered shortly before arriving back at the River Irwell and the stroll into Bury.
Here’s my route – 16 km, with about 200 metres ascent, taking a relatively energetic 2 hours, plus a further 2 hours for lunch.
As regards the Plodders, a committee was formed – Don, Alan and John. I controversially (I thought) suggested some short half day Autumn walks. Hmmm, not exactly LDWA style, but I now need to suggest some dates and venues as the idea was not rejected!