Meanders with Reg

Firber House June and Don above Barley June and Reg above Barley June surveys the scene Lovely cottages at White Hough Lovely views

Wednesday August 17th.

A Barley Circular. 3 walkers.

Three ‘Plodders’ June, Don and Reg, enjoyed the hospitality of the Cabin Café before starting out on the walk. As we drank our coffee a freshly baked tray of scones was placed on the counter. We managed to ignore the scones and set off through Barley village and onto the farm road leading to the Black Moss Reservoirs. The sun was hot, a welcome change from the previous days weather. The gentle incline with views of Pendle and the reservoirs got us off to a good start.

Crossing the road at Black Moss Farm we took the farm track to Mountain farm and on to the derelict Firber House. Sadly this once fine building is falling down. Situated on an elevation that gives you views over to Pendle Hill and beyond to the hills of the Trough of Bowland it cries out for renovation. We paused here for a short break. For those familiar with this site you will be pleased to know drainage of the surrounding moorland together with a new stile and path over to Rimington moor is being worked on.

As we climbed to Wheathead Height, views of the Yorkshire Dales and moorland over towards Gisburn were very clear. At the summit of our climb views over towards Blacko Tower, Weets Hill and then around to Boulesworth Hill and Burnley and Nelson were also very clear. A 360 degree range of views on a good day is possible on this walk.

Descending to Wheathead Lane we crossed this and passed through Higher Briercliffe Farm and onto Lower Briercliffe House. Here a new diversion takes you below the house and via a stone stile up the large field to the stile on a higher part of Wheathead Lane. We were given the stare by a cow with very impressive horns who was guarding several calves. There was little doubt from the cows attitude that had we been a little closer she would have attacked us. Is it me or are these confrontations becoming more common?

Descending the large field, with no definite path we found the gate leading down, via a very muddy green lane to White Hough Outdoor Activity Centre. Passing through the very pretty Hamlet at White Hough we walked down the lane to Barley. The areas near to the stream and the woodland higher were swamped by Himalayan Balsam. The flowers are attractive but the plants so very invasive.

The walk took two and a half hours and was around six miles in distance. Thanks to June and Don whose company made it a particular pleasure.

This walk and the previous one up Weets Hill are included in this years Pendle Walking Festival. The Festival is over ten days: 3rd-11th September. Details on



Wednesday August 31st.

Red Rock Express. 10 miles from Adlington.

20 walkers.


Please see link to Martin's blog for a write up of this walk.


Some 20 Plodders and one dog set off from the Bay Horse on an overcast but dry morning. Reg explained it was a historic/railway ramble.

Walking along the Adlington Way we passed The Hall on the Hill, a building dating back to 1720, and skirted the Golf Course. Crossing the A6 to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal we encountered our first railway, the former mineral line from the Colleries at Ellerbeck and Duxbury. This crossed the canal and the A6 taking coal wagons to the sidings off Rawlinsons Lane.

Further along the canal we came to the Marina and the White Bear Marina Café. The café is run by the Brothers of Charity Services and helps in the training of Disabled Adults hoping to secure them employment. We enjoyed a relaxed half an hour sitting outside drinking coffee or tea and some of us cake. The service was prompt,efficient and cheerful. The café enjoys a very good reputation for good service, food and cleanliness.

Reg pointed out the only remaining part of the White Bear Station and talked about the line which connected Blackburn to Wigan and beyond to Garston Docks in Liverpool. Coal and cotton were the main freight but the line also serviced local quarries ,local industry like the Bleach Works, and even walkers to Heapey to walk the hills. From the docks came cotton and food stuffs. At its peak the line also ran 10 daily passenger trains in both directions and hence the stations at White Bear, Red Rock and Wild Boar.

Continuing along the canal we traumatised fishermen competing in a fishing competition and thankfully for them we turned off just before the River Douglas.

We climbed up to the track bed and walked along it for two miles to reach Red Rock Station House, much renovated from its former days. We looked at photos of the station at various times before its closure in 1971. The down waiting room was reserved solely for the Lindsey family from Haigh Hall and kept locked!

In the adjacent carpark, formerly the goods yard, Norman,my next door neighbour, was in his car with our lunch time sandwiches. After an enjoyable lunch we set off for a proper Railway Ramble. That is using paths of unknown ownership.

Passing very colourful gardens on Wigan Lane, we turned off along the track bed of the Wigan Loop Line, passing behind gardens of houses on Wigan Lane and then onto a Water Board road and eventually to where the railway from Red Rock crossed the River Douglas on a viaduct of seven wrought iron spans at a height of 86 feet above the river. We had a good view of two of the spans. Beyond this we reached a brick built viaduct, where the Loop Line crossed the Douglas with some 8 spans.Unfortunately at this point a fence prevents further progress.

Walking back along the Loop Line we reached the road, crossed and continued along the track bed, passing beneath the Main West Coast Line to the perimeter of Standish Golf Course,and eventually Rectory Road. Turning right and once again passing beneath the Main Line Reg pointed out the bricked off entrance to what was Standish Station. Photos of the former station show it was situated between the two lines. Walking on along side the Main Line several passenger trains rushed past. Turning away from the railway we passed the Crown (and some excellent beers), crossed through the extensive gardens and grounds of a wealthy land owner to reach the White Crow.

As we approached Mill Bridge Farm we so alarmed a young horse,which was separated from its mother in another field, that it attempted to jump the high and substantial wooden fence separating them. Fortunately at the last moment the horse veered off and knocked over an electric fence but appeared unharmed. Ann kindly told the farmer what had happened and we continued cross country, admiring the views of the West Pennine Moors as we walked. We passed Coppull Hall, a listed building,walking alongside fields of wheat and came to the site of the mine workings of Ellerbeck Colliery. Norman who knew the area like the back of his hand had already turned off in the wrong direction!

Leaving the mine workings we crossed Wigan Lane and walked down the bridleway to the site of Ellerbeck Hall. The walls which surrounded the Hall are still in part visible. The former barn has been extensively renovated into a substantial building with an impressive fountain featured in the garden. Turning up Rawlinsons Lane we had a final sighting of the mineral line in a cutting which crossed to the sidings just off Rawlinsons Lane.

Taking the gully at the top of Rawlinsons Lane we crossed the fields heading for the Bay Horse ,noting several Thirlmere Aqueduct gates. On what was now a fine warm afternoon we climbed the final hill and a well earned rest in the pub.

Reg circulated details of the next three Plodder walks and these details will be on the East Lancs website soon.

Following two power cuts my computer will not access Windows and is going in for repair. Not good news as amongst other things yesterdays photos are also not accessible. If any of you have photos of the walk could you please forward to Hilary. Saro has kindly let me use her computer to write up the walk details.




Tuesday 20th September.

Salford Trail Part 4.


Please see walk report from Martin, click on the link below.




Lancashire Trail Part 1.

A Plodder Walk. 12/10/11.


Arriving on the 10.40 am from Wigan the advanced party felt an early coffee was in order. Viv completed a quick circuit of St Helens Town Centre, interrogating several locals en route, before finding an excellent cafe that was open. We then met up with Don at the Town Hall.

Leaving Queen Victoria we (six Plodders) walked into a day of what Allan says locals describe as ‘ Billinge Rain’ (persistent drizzle). Quickly reaching the St Helen’s Canal ,which was very near to flooding, we entered into the first of many green urban areas. The St Helens Canal was the very first modern canal in the UK to be constructed in 1757. Allan told us that as a boy they caught  tropical fish in the canal near to Pilkingtons where water released back into the canal from the works was hot enough to raise the temperature of the canal and allowed tropical fish to breed.

Following the canal to the Sankey Valley we passed the site of very deep double locks which lowered boats sixty feet to the floor of the valley. These locks have been filled in for safety reasons. Crossing the A58 we followed the path to Carr Mill Dam, passing beneath the Railway viaduct. With so much rain recently the Dam was full and the water chute was very active.

Skirting the sides of the Dam we found a six seater bench with table. Despite the rain we enjoyed an early lunch stop. Continuing along the side of the Dam we reached the 19 arched footbridge carrying the St Helens –Rivington water supply. Struggling through mud we reached Otters Swift Farm. On a path approaching Billinge an apple tree full of large cooking apples was spotted. Viv filled Allan’s ruck sack giving him instructions that he was to make sure he brought a large apple pie to Ghyll Head. They were truely magnificent apples.

Our climbing of Billinge Hill was not rewarded by any worth while views. On a clear day extensive views across to Merseyside, the Welsh Hills, and also to the Pennines and the West Pennine Moors are possible. Briefly Norman took over leadership but on reaching the side of a deep Quarry retired to the rear. From there on he confined his skills to advising Martin on some of the finer points of photography! Passing through a farm with magnificent pampas grass we descended to Mountains Farm and failed to take the left folk and the more direct route down. Allan who was very familiar with this area and the Brick Works guided us back to the correct path and onto the underground reservoir and eventually housing estate and the M58 motorway bridge.

After enjoying a welcome drink  and some interesting pictures of well known sportsmen at the White Lion Hotel we caught the 4.15pm bus back into Wigan. The nine miles was covered in a leisurely pace and despite the drizzle we  felt it was a walk of much merit and are looking forward to the next section.

Reg Kingston




Please use link below for Martin's blog about this walk.





Lancashire Trail Part 2. 

A Plodder Walk. 9/11/11.


On a day forcast to be wet some eight Plodders gathered at Abbey Lakes. Whilst Reg waited for Don to arrive Norman gave the other Plodders a trip around the Lakes. Norman,who recently had undergone surgery on his varicose veins, said he would try and do half of the walk.

In mild and dry conditions the Plodders set forth on the path leading to Deane Woods. The rearranged route briefly crossed the woods passing along a small ravine and crossing a stream and via the golf course the road leading to Roby Mill. This country lane finds it’s way through some very attractive and open countryside with views of the distant West Pennine Moors (somewhat hazy due to low cloud). Allan was able to give us details of the former convent whose walled estate we could clearly see.

Making our way to Ashurst Beacon we walked through the grounds of the former convent estate where some very impressive Yew trees  lined our way. There was some brief discussion between Norman and Reg at this stage as neither remembered clearly the route. Martin came to the rescue and the route soon became recognisable. A welcome lunch break was taken as we admired the views from the Beacon.

Plunging down we headed for the Douglas Valley. Passing through a small hamlet of attractive houses and a derelict building site, looking like a base of a swimming pool, we made our way to the Douglas, crossing also the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, and finally the Wigan to Southport railway line. Heading ever upwards we passed through the disused quarry to ascent to Parbold Hill and the Wiggin Tree Pub. Refreshments in the form of multicoloured icecreams were taken. We bade farewell to Norman who had lead the assault on Parbold Hill.

Reg then upped the pace to get to Harrocks Windmill on time. The Plodders responded well and we enjoyed a short break on the bench looking out towards Preston and the North. Everyone appreciated how well the estate covering the area from Moorside to the otherside of Harrocks Hill was kept. We encountered many pheasants.

Descending through some attractive fields we crossed over a small stream and for about half a mile some very muddy conditions. Reaching Toogood Lane and walking along the lane we turned left crossing over a turnip field and on to the fishing pools. I am pleased to say the sign which Norman and Bill replaced is still held firmly on the tree. It had previously been used as target practice by local youths and caused us to take the wrong path previously.

Via Broadhurst Lane we made our way to the M6 motorway and crossed via a  bridge. Before crossing a man walking his dog over the bridge said it was the first time he had ever seen walkers coming along the path to the bridge! We continued on to reach the A49 and the Alison Pub at 4.05pm.(still daylight)

The distance was measured to be just under twelve miles.We encountered a little drizzle towards the end of the walk but in the main a dry day with some views.





See the links below for Martin's blog and pictures of this walk.        








The Kingfisher Trail. A Plodder Walk of 9 miles. 30/11/11.


Blessed with a sunny day some 7 plodders and our very own ‘plodder’ dog, Maude set off from the Information Centre at Clifton Country Park. Prior to setting off Don’s wife phoned to say she was broken down on the motorway. Martin took Don in his car to rescue his wife. Pleased to say all was well later but unfortunately Don missed out on the walk. Martin was able to join us continuing to supply us with chocolate cake of wonderful taste.

Clifton Country Park is the site of the former Wet Earth Colliery. The local canal, Fletcher’s Canal, was linked to the colliery and a similar system to that used at Worsley with underground tunnels taking boats closer to the coal face. The canal breached in the 1950’s and remains of boats abandoned in the silt can still be seen. When walking the Bolton Rotary Way we passed these abandoned boats.

Crossing the Irwell we walked to Ringley with it’s ancient packhorse bridge and church and Tower. The packhorse bridge was built in 1677 at the cost of five hundred pounds to replace a wooden bridge which had been washed away. In 1950 the bridge was dedicated as an ancient monument. The clock tower is all that remains of the original Ringley Chapel which dates back to 1626.

We continued following the Manchester-Bolton Canal with large sections still in water, if somewhat green with algae. Following the towpath we came to the canal basin at Nob End. There were some five locks as the canal divided into the Bury and Bolton canals. At this point we left the Irwell River to follow the River Croal into Moses Gate Country Park. Passing through woodland we came to Darcy Lever and a welcome pubstop. Rest and refreshments were taken. From the pub we turned into Leverhulme Park and walked alongside Bradshaw Brook. Taking further refreshnents in the Park we headed for Severn Acres Country Park. Following Bradshaw Brook, crossing Thicketford Bridge and passing through further woodland we entered Longsight Park and skirted the golf course. We passed through the Arboretum at Bradshaw. Planted in 1988 the Arboretum is thriving with over 300 trees of 125 species.

Crossing Bradshaw Bridge we passed Bradshaw Cricket Club and onto the site of the former Bradshaw Hall.(dates back to 1074!) The very impressive entrance to the Hall remains at the site of now an extensive area of expensive houses. Continuing alongside the Brook we passed through further woodland to reach Jumbles Reservoir. Needing to catch trains and buses we split up to end what had been a most interesting and enjoyable walk.

We did not spot a Kingfisher but they are increasingly seen along the River Croal and Bradshaw Brook as the water quality improves and fish numbers increase. We were amazed how rural the Trail was considering how built up are the surrounding areas. The various Country Parks are adding much to the quality of life for local residents.





Please see below for Martin's blog and pictures from the day.







Lancashire Trail. Part 3  (Coppull Moor-Rivington) A Plodder Walk of 8 miles.


Seven stout Plodders set forth on what was forcast to be a day of violent weather. Leaving the comfort of Regs home the gallant walkers caught the 125 to Chorley Interchange and swiftly mounted the bus to Wigan. Being the only occupents of the bus, the driver told us of a railway across the moor to an Ordnance site along the route from the A49 which we were to take. Fascinating though this was I can find no records of this other than a mineral line to the coal mines at Coppull Grange. As we left the bus we had the distinct impression the driver would have been very happy to join us.(to find the mysterious Ordnance Site)

However we soon reached Hic Bibi Brook and the site of Hic-Bibi Well. Local tradition has it that the name Hic-Bibi was given to the well by Oliver Cromwell. On his return from the Battle of Preston in 1648, travelling down the old Roman Road near to Standish, Cromwell stopped to drink at the Well. The Well was one of three Holy Wells in the Leyland Hundreds. The name Hic-Bibi means drink here. The well was situated on Monastic land and it is likely the monks gave it the latin name Hic-Bibi. There probably would have been some notice to travellers on the ancient highway that the water was fit to drink. Finally there is a 3 minute U Tube clip showing Hic –Bibi Culvert under the main West Coast Railway line. This is fascinating showing some wonderful Victorian Arches and brickwork.

Returning to the walk we were very pleased to find this normally waterlogged path to be walkable and the weather to be dry and crisp with outstanding views. We made good progress, passing yet again The Crown, a splendid pub, but sadly not yet open. However Worthington Lakes made a fine stopping place for refreshments and yes, you guessed,Martin’s chocolate cake. Constructed in the 1890’s the Lakes provided water for the Print Works and other local industries.

Crossing the River Douglas we walked over the Golf Course to the Golf Club Manor House, Arley Hall.The Hall occupies the site of an old Abbey.In earlier times it must have been of great importance as the estate was confiscated by King Henry 1st only to be restored to it’s rightful owners by King John in the 12th century. The approach to the Hall is over a bridge that occupies the same position as the old drawbridge. The 12th century moat is still in water and once had black swans until local foxes killed them (or so it is said!)

Pressing on we crossed the Leeds Liverpool Canal and the former Adlington to Red Rock Railway track to travel along the lane to Blackrod. The name Blackrod derives from the Old English, meaning a dark clearing. Reputed to be the site of a Roman Signal station, Blackrod has a long history of Manor Houses and importance as a trading place.

Crossing the A6 we once again crossed the River Douglas and then over the M61 to reach Anderton Old Hall Farm and it’s listed farmhouse and barn. Norman kindly ended the walk with a guided walk alongside the River Douglas as it leaves the Reservoir at Rivington. Thanks to his and Chris Langabeers' action the path remains open having been closed by residents of the recently built estate.

Catching a 125 bus we returned swiftly to Adlington and a welcome curry and rice prepared by Saro. Norman was happy to report that Saro had not lost her touch!

We have fixed the date for the next section of the Trail as Wednesday January the 18th.




Please see link below for Martin's blog