On the run up to Christmas


The Alternative Up and Over

Three souls naive enough to believe what is printed in Strider turned up at the Blue Lagoon on 7 December. Once we realised that the more savvy members would not be joining us, we changed the start point to Phil’s house near Moss Bank Park. He then led us around the route of his regular 10 mile morning walk.

We went up Winter Hill and over to the Rivington towers and Pike Cottage, before returning past the Two Lads. The wind was bracing, but we completed the circuit largely in sunshine, punctuated by a few short, sharp salvos of hailstones. On the way back we stopped to view the stone commemorating the Sunday morning in 1896 when 10,000 Boltonians marched to reclaim the right to use an ancient track over the moor, closed by the landowner. The track is now a Right of Way and only an unlocked gate guards the point where the Boltonians broke through a police cordon.

Thanks to Phil for an enjoyable walk.

Mike and Heather


Ghyll Head Christmas Bash.

Monday December 5th to Thurday December 8th.

For those not familiar with Ghyll Head we rent a self catering bungalow which is designed for disabled children to enjoy outside and inside activities in a beautiful setting. We go in December and although we don't do the many activities on offer for the children we do have much fun. Eleven participants turned up at various times on the Monday afternoon. All the food and equipment was unloaded and the back porch soon took on the appearance of a small brewery. Sleeping arrangements were decided and various quantities of beverages consumed. A search party went to look for the last arrival but Kath turned up safe and well despite having made her way up in the dark. Viv did a magnificent job of decorating the table and we enjoyed a veritable banquet. After the meal it was fun and games with the start of the bagatelle championship, the fishing game and battleship game all going on. A quiz followed with Norman in terrific form as usual. The night ended with a film about a doomed ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, it was decided that we would not be climbing the peaks on the following day!


Tuesday dawned bright and clear. The group split into two parties. Seven of us set off and did a variation of an old challenge walk - t'other side of Lyth. This turned out to be 17 miles and what a stunner it was too. June did a sterling job of sheperding us round, ably assisted by Neil. We circuited over towards Whitbarrow Scar, through Crosthwaite, over to Cartmel Fell and returned via Gummers How. The weather was incredibly kind, sun for most of the day, little wind, just a sprinkling of rain near the end. Underfoot conditions were a little icy in places turning to mud but the views along the way made us forget this. The High Fells and the Howgills looked wonderful with a good covering of snow. It was dark before we returned but the last mile or so was on a road so this was not a problem.

Those remaining went over to Winster and found a lovely country pub which had self catering cottages as well. I believe Viv is looking into these for a group stay. They saw a good selection of wildlife, deer, goats, buzzards and also enjoyed the lovely day.

Another good meal followed, Kath won the bagatelle champoinship and relieved Norman of one whole pound. She also beat him at the fishing, the first time he has been beaten in 20 years I believe! The promised 'day at the races' did not materialise due to technical difficulties but Norman stepped into the breach with another quiz. As the night went on the weather deteriorated and the wind and rain could clearly be heard.

Wednesday dawned with lashings of rain and a gusty wind. There were some bright spells with good views of rainbows, some of which finished in Lake Windermere. The decision was easy; no big walk, just a gentle stroll to the pub for lunch and back. Minor roads were followed for most of the way due to muddy conditions on the paths but even these threatened to become impassable. Bernards' Wellies allowed him to wade through the worst and assist us across some tricky parts. The Masons Arms at Strawberry Bank made us most welcome, rucksacks were stowed behind the bar and wet coats hung to dry. The open fire was so hot I was finding it hard to stay awake! Reg's brother and his wife joined us for a drink, after hot soup it was a real shock to face the cold conditions outside. We made our way back; a local ford had risen to two feet deep, luckily the footbridge was above this. Viv and a few others paid another visit to the pub in Winster returning after dark. Today, Norman, Kath and Helen returned early so it was a quieter evening in the bungalow. Allan was tonights quizmaster and the red wine just about lasted the evening!

Thursday dawned with howling winds but there was no walking today. We packed up and made our way home having enjoyed the stay. Thanks very much to Reg for organising and to everyone else for their various contributions.





Wed 14th December,

UP & OVER Leader: Kath Page. 14 walkers & 4 energetic dogs,
We met  at the Blue Lagoon Rivington well wrapped up for a cold winters walk. I thought it best to do the up & over Winter Hill part first in case it went dark. So onwards & upwards we went with a breather at the top in a cold bracing wind. A welcome tea stop at Rivi barn was had by all.
Then we made our way over to the Blundell Arms for a lunch stop. Then round High Rid resevoir over to Barrow Bridge then onto Belmont Rd. Through the valley & just about returned as it was dark. Everyone enjoyed the variable terrain, luckily no rain on the day. Hope to do it again next year.

 Kath Page.
Sunday 18th December.
Cristmas Cracker. 16 miles from Rivington.
Leader: Norman Thomas
A sunny day had been forcast but it was raining when we gathered for the start of Normans 14th annual Christmas Cracker. A record number of 62 walkers & 14 dogs were in attendance. We set off with Norman at the helm winding our way up to the pigeon tower, the rain stopped & the sun came out.
After a quick stop to regroup we set off up the track before climbing a stile onto Rivington Moor. The stile was icy & wobbly & Bob manfully held it in place whilst the rest of us climbed over.
Up to the Winter Hill masts for another short break before heading to Bolton beach with a cold biting wind in our faces for a coffee break & a quiz from Norman.
A tramp down through the snow took us to Walker Fold Road where our leader after a quick consultation with his trusty lieutenant Chris decided to miss out Barrow Bridge as lunch was beckoning. We then proceeded via road & track to our lunch destination the Bobs Smithy pub.
Dinner money was taken by Alma & Dave at the door allowing the group to dine on Hot pot, cakes & mince pies served up by Betty, Edith & their team. A collection was made in support of one of Normans local charities & over £100 was raised. We then gathered outside where one of the bar staff judged the best Christmas hat.
We then set off up Chorley Old Road beore turning off uphill to the Two Lads. A short break here whilst Norman engaged in some friendly banter with two innocent walkers who were trying to have a peaceful cup of coffee in the afternoon sun. Onwards onto Rivington Pike before the descent down to the cars via the Castle. 
A presentation was then made to Norman by Viv thanking him for the great day out & lunch.
Dave Walsh
Thank you to Howard, Andy and Peter for the photos.
Pretoria Maypole. Wednesday 21st December. 16 miles.
Leader: John Bullen.

18 muddy people and two even muddier dogs.


Who would have thought we have so many people in our club who are interested in wallowing in mud all day! Certainly if there was mud in the Atherton/Hindley/ Westhoughton vicinity we found it. What do I say in my defence? Easy – it was all surface water! What a bunch of softies!


This walk had a very sombre theme indeed, designed as it was to commemorate two of Britain’s most appalling mining tragedies, namely the Maypole and Pretoria Pit disasters. In the former in 1907, located between Abram and Hindley, 76 people were killed in an underground explosion. The latter in 1910 saw 344 men and boys, the youngest aged 12, perish in another pit shaft explosion at the Hulton Mining Company Pretoria Pit. It happened on this very day, December 21st, 101 years ago.


We started with a stroll down Westhoughton’s Market Street to the site of the new Pretoria Memorial, a statue of miner with lamp, sculpted by Jane Robbins (sister of Radio Lancashire presenter, Ted). This was erected in 2010 to mark the Centenary Year. As this was the actual day of the 101st anniversary of this terrible tragedy when we moved on to St Batholomew’s Parish church the annual memorial service was just about to begin. We spent a few minutes looking at the original memorial which has inscribed details of where all the victims are buried and the quite awful statistic that 24 of the bodies were never identified.


It was perhaps a fittingly gloomy grey and dismal day denying us the views across the Cheshire Plain to the hills of Frodsham and Helsby and beyond the Clwydians as we crossed Westhoughton golf course in our way to Borsdane Wood. This wooded valley was as beautiful as ever despite the winter month. Heading across to the border of Hindley and Ince (as Doreen pointed out) we were amazed and gratified to see the substantial work and investment which has gone in to creating new footpaths centred round Amberswood Common and Low Hall.


Picking up the new trail along a dismantled railway line we headed off to Park Road Hindley nearby the site of the Maypole pit and on to Hindley Green, Daisy Hill and to the actual site of the Pretoria mine. The ruins can still be discerned in the undergrowth with the foundations of brick walls, stone blocks and the quite distinctive triangular reservoir. At the memorial laid on the actual site we enjoyed a paper cup of mulled wine and a piece of delicious festive loaf!


Over the last couple of miles back to Westhoughton John achieved his ulterior motive – to find footpaths which Norman didn’t know about! Darkness had fallen as we reached the cars but I’d like to thank everyone for coming along and making such a dismal day an enjoyable experience. Merry Christmas everyone!


For anyone interested in further investigation there are many Websites set up with details of both mining disasters.   






Brief Encounter:    Wed Dec 28th 2011

28 people and 1 very small dog with very little legs.                    14 miles.         

Leaders : Mary Robinson and Ruth Redmayne 


What better way to walk off the Christmas pudding than a brisk pace along the south eastern shore of Morecambe Bay heading into a strong to gale force sea breeze? That may be a slight exaggeration but it felt like gale force at times! Just ask Heidi the dog!


26 walkers assembled outside Morecambe’s Happy Mount Park at 9.00am prompt. Our walks secretary and Ruth assembled there at 10.00am prompt! If only John’s Christmas stocking had contained an alarm clock! (apologies to the lady named Alison who phoned the previous evening – we waited as along as we could). In the meantime Mary led the throng off past Shane Johnstone’s striking Mother and Child sculpture at the northern entrance to Morecambe town. Picking up the Lancashire Coastal Way everyone had to concentrate on keeping their footing on the tricky beach path but the rewards with the views across the Bay were worth it and that strong sea breeze soon blew any cobwebs away.


Two hours of this saw the main party arrive in Carnforth only for the major disappointment of the Brief Encounter café being shut. Everything else in the town was open and we had been assured the café and museum would be - but no! Still their loss was Gregg’s The Bakers gain, especially for Angela who did her famous “disappearing pastie” trick! Here the afternoon shift (John and Ruth) joined us and off we went down the Lancaster Canal towards Hest Bank but leaving the towpath before reaching that lovely little village to go further inland. This took us along some quaint and surprisingly quiet wooded footpaths hidden away between the M6 and the A6.


We emerged on a lane leading into Bolton-le-Sands for the afternoon stop at a little picnic area above the village. Here Mary’s friend Peter who lives nearby met us with Ruth and Mary’s little treat for everyone - mince pies! Yummy. Passing through this quite wonderful historic village we again found the canal towpath and followed this along to the rear of Happy Mount Park and back to our cars.


Well done Ruth and Mary and Happy New Year everyone!