Snowdrops and Mud

Wednesday February 19th. Clitheroe 60k walk, Part 3. 14 miles. Leader: Roger Jackson.


On a cloudy and very wet day twelve gallant walkers and one brave dog navigated it past unexpected road maintenance to meet at the Pay and Display Car Park in Slaidburn. 

Setting off just after 10.00 am we crossed the river and headed upwards over a series of muddy fields to eventually hit Tinkers Lane. Along the road for approximately half a mile then turning right over Black Moss and through Dean Slack Head , our morning coffee stop, just before we hit the road. Continued down the  road for a short way we then turned right through fields to Little Moss farm and an interesting encounter with the Grim Reaper (see picture). Over another couple of fields to Harrop Lodge where we re-joined the official Clitheroe 60K route. Again across a series of boggy fields and challenging stiles passing Harrop Hall and eventually arrived at our lunch stop at Broadhead Farm. 

Staying on the trail from we soon joined the river and headed into Newton. Here we left the route and headed over Ha series  of fields passing Gamble Hole Farm and reaching Back lane. Then via Back Lane and Pain Hill Farm returning to  Slaidburn for approx. 3.30pm.

Here several members then continued our ongoing support for local businesses having a drink in the excellent Shoulder of Mutton pub.

Many thanks to all who braved the elements







Wednesday February 12th. Tockholes Circular,  A Plodder Walk. 11 miles. Leaders: Christine Cocks and Isobel Graham.


18 walkers and 1 dog (the lovely Maude) took part in our walk. Starting from Ryal Fold car park at 10.00 am the route followed a section of the Witton Weavers Way for the most part.


Early on we had to alter the walk slightly due to a number of fallen trees that were blocking the planned route. Following a morning break at Hawkshaw we continued to Darwen and then onto Tockholes where we found a very nice lunch spot alongside the Old Schoolhouse, a single storey building in the grounds of St. Stephens Church.There were sufficient tables and seating here to accommodate everyone comfortably.


The church, which is the third church built on the site, was erected in 1965. The structure was only intended to last 10 to 15 years but has lasted 55 years and appears to still be in reasonably good condition. It is a very simple brick/wood construction and in stark contrast, a few metres in front, stands the large ornate stone porch from the previous church which was erected in 1833 and demolished in 1964.



After lunch we continued north from Tockholes, walked under the M65 to join the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath for a short distance before crossing back a little further along the M65 and walking south to Abbey Village. From here the group walked past Rake Brook and Roddlesworth Reservoirs arriving back at Ryal Fold car park at 3.45 pm.


Due to the early detour the walk was slightly longer than advertised - about 11 miles. Like all recent walks, it was extremely muddy in parts but fortunately the weather remained bright, dry and breezy for most of the day with just an occasional spell of rain.


Members called in the Royal Arms pub for a well-earned drink before travelling home.

A big thank you to everyone who came along.

Christine and Isobel





Wednesday February 5th. Mines?? A Pint. 12 miles. Leader: John Thompson.


Well what a start to the day with thick fog. I did not expect any one to turn up but they did.


17 souls and one dog joined me for a not too muddy walk around the Clifton, Prestwich, Philips and Hurst park/wood area.


After the team photo we headed for Clifton park passing the water works on our left then turning right along the path to cross over a metal bridge into the park. Following the path at the side of the lake then turning right up to the information center. Turning left to get to the wet earth colliery where we stopped for a talk about the mine ( gal pit) then on and up steps to the large brick chimney known as Fletchers folly. Then following the path between the woods and railway line and climbing the new bridge over the railway and along the path to our first stop of the day.


Moving on under the line, right and then turning left before Clifton junction and down to the river Irwell. Following the river and crossing the metal bridge into Prestwich park following the path to the left taking us into Prestwich Clough. Along the Clough to the flower gardens and its benches for our lunch.


After lunch back along the Clough passing the church on our right on then to the road passing the hospital and then left up a side road to a tunnel and into Philips park. Then following the path to and over the M60 and on to the nature trail. Along then and turning right up into Hurst wood and our afternoon stop at a sheep pen (no jokes please). Then back to the trail turning off at Ringley road along then to turn left and down the hill to the finish.


16 of us visited the pub after the walk.


12 miles walked and Norman survived; well done.


Thanks to all who came, it was a great day


See you soon.





Sunday February 2nd. Something Simister this way comes. 21 miles. Leader: Michael Bushby.


It’s not every walk that has a palindromic number for a date, though barely any of the group of 14 seemed to share my excitement at the fact.  I think the next one is 12.12.2121 if anyone wants to work themselves into a nerdy frenzy and put on a walk to celebrate.

Warm egg butties welcomed the walkers (not literally) in a mizzly Parr Fold Park, and I outlined the mission to head to Heaton Park and back via Simister Island on as green a route as possible.  Unfortunately, much of the green turned out to be mud and puddle underfoot but no-one moaned about the conditions (at least not within my earshot).  The forecast morning rain had just passed so we enjoyed a mostly decent, cloudy day until a shower caught us on the home stretch.

We headed out through the mean streets of Walkden, skirting Blackleach Country Park and over possibly the longest motorway footbridge ever constructed.  Dave counted 13 lanes of M60/M61/A666 below us.  After a close-up view of the concrete tunnels, we crossed Clifton Moss and dropped into Clifton Country Park for an early morning break.

Over the Irwell and briefly on the Sculpture Trail, where a goldfinch was sighted, we then turned to head east up onto Phillips Park Road and through Whitefield for the first of only two built-up sections.  Passing Besses o’ th’ Barn made me think I really should have researched that intriguing name.  We emerged onto a puddled lane that ran parallel-ish to the M60 and M66.  In that corner, nestled up to Simister Island, sits a farm that has been as unfortunate with transport planning as the one straddled by the M60 near Huddersfield.  What images would that name, Simister Island, conjure up if you weren’t aware of the reality: a massive roundabout, a junction of three motorways, thick blue geometric lines on the map?

Two more motorway bridges, a close encounter with the M66 hard shoulder, then Egypt Lane (“Still a pharaoh way to go” – one I’d prepared earlier; how they laughed).

And so, Simister, this way we came.  For a place that gets so many mentions on the radio (granted, only in traffic reports) it was, well, pretty insignificant.  A one street village with a hall named after a Lady Wilton and a nice church.  We didn’t linger.  Anyway, Heaton Park was beckoning us for lunch (again, not literally).  Some squeezed on the two benches, reminiscent of the opening credits to The Simpsons.  Others opted for the slimy bottom steps at the back of Heaton Hall.

The return journey began with a mighty ascent to the highest point in Manchester at the Temple/observatory.  Some reflected on how long it had been since their previous visit to Heaton Park.  Jane mentioned that she’d seen the Pope here, and I’m sure she said this was a similar religious experience.

Unavoidable urban area number 2 was Prestwich, but then the charming woods of Phillips Park and Prestwich Forest Park took us back to the Irwell at the Pilkington tile factory.  I learned that drivers call this stretch of the M60 The Valley of Death.  We passed underneath it twice in order to access a railway bridge, then climbed wooden steps to emerge into the Wickes car park near Swinton.  Through fields around the top of Wardley, seventh time of the day under or over one of four motorways, last muddy path with woods on the right, M61 slip road on the left, briefly on the East Lancs Road and finally a half mile up the Roe Green Loop Line back to Walkden.

This wasn’t offered as the most scenic route of the year, and the hum of traffic was often the background noise.  However, urban walking made up fewer than 3 miles of the 21.  Hopefully it provided lots of points of interest and something to reflect on when motoring - or sat in your daily traffic jam, Julie S - around north Manchester.

Cheers to the attendees.




Thanks to Jane for the pictures below.

Photos from Hilary