Shortly we stopped. Maude informed us why: "We are waiting for Norman and Chris. Neil and Caroline have stayed at the car park as they know the route." (Actually it was Hilary who said this as Maude couldn’t remember how to say so many words in one bark.)
It was a cool, overcast day. Very calm, with autumn turning to winter, and wet conditions underfoot after overnight rain.
We waited, then we ambled on to the site of Lower Kem Mill, which has a long history spanning 200 years.
"Take as long as you like" said Hilary, as we perused the ruins, "we are waiting for Norman and Chris."
A little later, we paused by the River Lostock, the banks of which exhibited untidy remnants of flood debris from earlier in the year. Still no sign of Norman and Chris.
A rather less attractive tunnel under the M61 motorway drew us along a path to the Top Lock, where elevenses were taken beside the Leeds & Liverpool Canal. Cake was available, then we set off past the following sign in celebration of ‘Cruising Clubs’ around Britain.
Hedgerows were laden with berries, and fieldfares and redwings were flocking in the fields. A kingfisher scooted ahead of us along the canal bank, its electric blue flash illuminating the scene. Sadly too small and fleeting to capture ‘on film’.
The surface of the canal bore witness to the first frosts of the season.
Withnell Fold Mill was passed. Apparently it operated between 1843 to 1967, producing newsprint for the local papers.
Leaving the riverside path just beyond an enormous railway viaduct, we soon reached the driveway to Hoghton Tower, a fortified manor house dating from around 1560.
Nearby, beyond a war memorial, was a church where lunch was taken on a variety of benches spread around the Cemetery.
Zooming off after lunch, Barbara had her binoculars to hand and was well equipped to spot a few birds. Here’s her list for the day:
Black Headed Gull
Mute Swan cygnet
We headed towards Brindle, through damp fields. It was definitely a ‘boots’ day.
Some (reportedly) very wet fields were avoided by taking the road past Bateson’s Farm, the alternative route allegedly being the subject of a dangerous Rottweiler hazard. Were we that close to Liverpool?
The path continued pleasantly over the M65, M61 and the M6 before reaching our car park much more quickly than expected, passing Cuerden Lake on the way.
Here's our route - 23 km, 300 metres ascent, taking 6 hrs 20 mins, including an hour of breaks.
Then most of us adjourned to a local hostelry.
There’s a slideshow here. Clicking on the first image, then using the arrow half way down the right of the screen might make the slideshow work.
Thanks go to Maude for choosing an excellent route and leading the group with such competence and unerring confidence.