Plodding Along

Alan and John at Salford Quays By the old Steam Train Impressive new Architecture Is this really Salford? Salford in bloom Smiling Plodders The Lowry Centre The new Reds Stadium Viewing local industry Waiting for the tram home

Thursday July 21st. Salford Trail Part 5. Leader: Reg Kingston.

On a day that had forecast much rain some nine Plodders assembled on the Glazebrook bridge in intermittent sunshine. Roy Bullock was amongst us and throughout the day contributed a great deal to our understanding of the history of the trail.

We were shown the etching on one of the bridge stones which marked the boundaries of the Salford and West Derby Hundreds.(going back several hundred years). Allan was keen to know what Hundreds meant. This kept Roy going for several minutes, the gist of which was at that time many possessions were measured in hundreds from archers in an army to chickens on a farm!

We plodded on passing the ‘Marge and Steel' Sculpture and it’s tea dance, along the side of the Ship Canal. Amongst the various birds were two swans travelling alongside a large clump of vegetation slowly making its way down the centre of the canal.

We stopped to admire and talk about the unique steam train originally from the Irlam Soap Works. Its steam reservoir was filled by the steam from the factory boiler and allowed it to work for two hours before needing a refill. The engineers amongst us wondered at the pressures involved and the connections necessary to transfer the steam. Whilst this was discussed one of our members, Martin, produced some excellent chocolate cake and we decided it was time for our first break. The chocolate cake was given an A merit.

Walking on we looked at the small rapids where the Mersey enters the Ship Canal. Turning away from the Canal for 400 yards we came to the old bed of the River Irwell.This is now part of a very green country park which has been very well set up with trees and shrubs. The water in the old river bed is filled from local streams and was full of bird life.

At the far end of the Park is the Boathouse pub and after a short debate we decided that it was time for an early lunch. We arrived at the pub door as the landlady was turning the key to open it. Have purchased various forms of liquid refreshment we enjoyed our lunch, outside on the very clean benches. Within 10 minutes some ten plus cars had arrived. A very popular and well run pub.

Crossing the Irlam bypass we reached the Canal side at the site of the old Irlam ferry. From here the trail follows a path situated between the Canal and the bypass but separated from the road by trees and in places many brambles. Eventually the path goes away from the bypass and enters some woodland. Progress was hampered by fallen trees and tall undergrowth but we battered our way through.(jungle training from you know who!)

We met up again with the old Irwell river bed which at this point is full of water from the Salteye Brook coming from Irlam Moss. Opposite is the site of the Davyhulme Ferry which is to become active again soon thanks to the action of local Ramblers and others. Roy explained at this point the Irwell had a large double bend which was cut through when the Canal was built.

Part of the old river bed lies on the Davyhulme side of the Canal. Passing Barton Locks and walking through some areas of grass land sprinkled with wild flowers we walked alongside the new Salford Red’s Stadium which is rapidly taking shape. It will hold up to 50,000 spectators when complete.

We passed beneath the motorway bridge and continued past the sewage works to the path leading into Peel Green Road. It is difficult to believe that you are in such a built up area as the canal sides are very green and again with swans, ducks, Canada geese all very active.

We walked down to Barton Lane and to the Bridgewater canal. Roy told us of the origins of the sign hanging outside the old Victorian pub. The sign is of a labourer holding a large scythe.It was said this was the disguise the Lord of Trafford took when chased by Roundheads during the civil war. When questioned by the Roundheads he made as to be an imbecile and was left to escape. The scythe was for many years kept in a glass case in the pub.

Taking use of the bench beneath the side of the Bridgewater canal we had a late lunch followed by cake from John Joycs and more chocolate cake. We continued down Barton Lane towards Eccles, turning right behind Morrisons coming eventually to the Centenary Bridge. There is now a new road linking the Bridge to Media City. The road is flanked by a cycle lane and path giving great views of the canal and the skyline of Manchester.

Entering Media City in strong sunlight we admired the new buildings and squares. It is truly impressive. Our arrival at the Lowry Centre coincided with graduation day for the students from Salford University. We were surrounded by gowns, mortarboards and hoards of proud parents. Various hem lines were amazingly high and I have to say it was not like that in my day!

This called for coffee outside and a final bebrief. Roy left us to find our way to Salford Quays where the Trail had started on a wet day in February. We caught a tram to Eccles Interchange and stepped immediately onto the 67 bus to Cadishead.

A very fulfilling day.The chocolate cake was outstanding and it did not rain.


Please click on link below for a Blog from Martin Banfield.

Wednesday August 3rd. Wonderful Weets. 8 mile walk from Barnoldswick. 12 walkers and 1 dog. Leader: Reg Kingston.

This was a walk for ‘Plodders’ – those folk who are not intent on rushing about like the more ‘hard core’ members. Accordingly, a leisurely start is appropriate, and after gentle post rush hour journeys eleven relaxed souls and Maude assembled at Letcliffe Park in plenty of time for the 11 o’clock start.

But Stuart, a guest, was still missing. He is hampered by having to care for an elderly mother, and as his Jeep clattered over the speed bumps the rest of us scattered to avoid the debris. ‘Dakar’ had been reached; Stuart slewed to a halt and joined the party. I think some of us were probably pleased not to have been chauffeured by him today!

However, it was to be a short walk, so there was no particular rush, and Reg had inserted a number of jinks and stiles into the route, so anyone venturing to depose him as leader soon got their comeuppance by either taking the wrong path or having to wait at a stile for all twelve of us and Maude to negotiate the obstacle. Younger readers may not appreciate the time it takes 12 old codgers and a lumpy dog to get over a stile, or even through a gate!

The jinks in the path and the waiting at stiles allowed most of us to retain our breath despite the gradient, which we hadn’t really noticed until we looked back down to Barnoldswick (colloquially known as ‘Barlick’) from a row of cottages off Folly Lane.

It was an ordinary row of cottages, perhaps, but one of them appeared to be the residence of an ex-VW Beetle owner, and another is clearly home to a sculptor.

The sculptures were really quite impressive, and Don looked as if he felt he had been transported to some South Sea island where they may be more ‘in keeping’!

After wandering from Star Hall, along the Pendle Way, to Weets House, Reg declared that due to a plague of flies on the summit of Weets Hill, we would stop for lunch here. After all, it was 12.15….

I wouldn’t say there were ‘no flies’ just here, but there weren’t many small flies, and the big hovery ones didn’t seem to like Reg’s aftershave, so we enjoyed a very pleasant and well earned break.

Plodding on up to the summit, we found several bundles of writhing wasps. In the middle of each bundle was a big wasp, a queen. That’s probably enough of a clue as to what was going on…

Just below the trig point, the view towards Ingleborough and the Lake District required imagination through the haze, so Rick and Terry studied something closer – a plaque in memory of Mabel Emsley 1907 – 1994.

The flowers of Lancashire are blooming well at present. Hereabouts the ling was coming into flower, tormentil was going strong, and there was lots of St John’s wort, white clover, thistles, foxgloves, harebells, buttercups, brambles, campions, loosestrife, and many more.

We retraced our steps and headed down the Pennine Bridleway track from Jenny Wren’s bench (who was she?), to Lane Side Farm, clearly lovingly renovated.

Across the road from a verge of betony, bales littered a field that had recently been mown, their black dots seemingly stretching towards the horizon on this humid day.

As we neared the conclusion of the walk back at Letcliffe Park, we wandered gently, albeit in military style in time with our leader’s gait, through pleasant country lanes.

Before the turn into the park past mansions presumably built for the local mill owners, Bancroft Shed, an old engine house, was encountered. It was shut today but seems to be open on Sundays. Worth a visit, perhaps.

The walk took a little over three hours – a very leisurely affair, in good company and over interesting terrain. Weets Hill, though modest in stature, would be a fine viewpoint on a clear day.

Thanks to Reg and the other ‘Plodders’ who contrived to make this stroll so pleasurable, and to Pendle Heritage Centre’s excellent café in Barrowford for the splendid cake and tea that many of us enjoyed on the way home.

Martin Banfield.

My blog entry, with slightly different text due to the positioning of photos, etc, is here.

Group in Letcliffe park Leaving Letcliffe park Leaving Weets Trig point Over the stile! Over the wall! Whose heads?