Back to the on-line diary. I’m regretting having attempted the last posting. It was a mistake on my part.
Today Sue and I had the pleasure of a morning walk with some of East Lancs LDWA’s jovial ‘Plodders’. A dull day until lunchtime, apart from the company, and by the time the sun came out we were on our way home. Never mind.
Luckily, the tram from Timperley to Bury didn’t on this occasion veer off in the direction of Rochdale, though the driver did look a bit nervous as we passed the turning to Monsall.
Our Metrolink rendezvous at the Bury terminus went smoothly, and six of us set off through Bury and across the River Irwell to Higher Woodhill Road, which leads to Burrs Country Park.
Shortly before the park, on the left, is Calrows Farmhouse.
It’s a building ‘listed’ for its special architectural or historic interest, and the English Heritage website describes the building here.
It describes architectural features, including the date moulding on a carved panel - "Standley/P/LM/1710/Derby" – but it’s reckoned to be older than 1710 in part (and later in other parts). C17 coins are said to have been found under the floor of the house.
We continued into the park, pausing for a shortbread fuelled cuppa and the traditional group picture (above), as well as a framed photo.
The park covers quite a large area, the mill chimney being visible from some way off.
School kids were enjoying playing with kayaks on the warm day, and we passed this giant plumber trap. We watched aghast as Reg flicked the control that sent the plumber spiralling into the sky, finally plummeting head first down the mill chimney, never to be seen again. (Not on this walk anyway, though he probably did escape.)
By now we were on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. There is a series of information boards on the various industrial artefacts in the Country Park, and on some of the seventy or so sculptures, such as the 1997 sculpture by Julie Edwards, ‘Stone Cycle’, comprising a series of large stones recycled from a dismantled bridge in Bury.
After bimbling around the Country Park for some time, we eventually moved on along the banks of the Irwell to this dramatic weir that the children use for honing their kayaking skills. Someone related the tale of how they watched some poor youth get the nose of her kayak stuck at the bottom of the weir, leaving her in a cold shower for a few minutes whilst a teacher tried to free the stricken vessel.
Beyond the weir, the path carries on pleasantly beside the river before sidling under a railway bridge and climbing gently to Bank Top Farm. The farm looks more like an ornamental garden than a working farm, although some sheep were in evidence. There’s a pond with more sculptures, a moorhen rooting through the undergrowth, and a black stag peering through the hedge at some herons.
High above the river and railway, the path weaves beside fields and through woodland to emerge at Summerseat’s cricket pitch, where David used to heave a lump of willow (I think that’s what he said, anyway). The empty bench confirms the lack of ‘play’, but the autumn colours are coming into ‘play’ hereabouts.
Beyond Brooksbottoms an ancient cobbled way leads up to a left turn, where the railway enters a tunnel and the good path to Ramsbottom leads on by way of a continuation of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which actually goes all the way from Salford Quays to Bacup and could be utilised for a series of short walks along an excellent route. Or even for an energetic 33 miles in a day blast!
But we turned left, through the greenery of Woodhey’s woods.
After a while a footbridge was reached. I crossed this by mistake the last time I was here, but today the correct turn to the right was made, up beside the left bank of Holcombe Brook, past man made weirs and knobbly trees in an area that must once have been filled with mills for the cotton industry.
Our rendezvous with Christine and Maureen in the Hare & Hounds at Holcombe Brook was thwarted by a refurbishment project. I should have checked their Facebook page before setting off! So the two wives had to slum it on the pavement outside the pub whilst waiting for us to appear from our leisurely plod.
The pub re-opens with a beer festival on 23 October. We couldn’t wait that long, so we all trooped off to nearby Summerseat Garden Centre for an excellent, if non-alcoholic, lunch.
This was a delightful stroll, in the best of company, along a very pleasant route. Thanks to everyone for turning up, and it was great that Christine and Maureen could join us for lunch (not a common scenario for an LDWA outing).
We walked just under 9 km (5.5 miles), with a modest 150 metres of ascent, taking less than two and a half hours. Excellent!
Thanks to Peter and Christine for the lift back to Radcliffe Metro station, and I trust everyone else got home safely, satisfactorily refreshed, and far from exhausted.