Do you remember the summer of ’76?
The 1976 United Kingdom heat wave led to the hottest summer average temperature in the UK since records began. The weather on our Tuesday walk was nothing like it. Cloudy, cool with the threat of a shower. Undaunted, 15 of us set off on our monthly ramble from St Katharine’s Church. Down past Suzanna’s, we walked along Blundell Lane to Hollins Head farm and on to the path across to Fir Tree farm. Here we saw several heifers in a barn along with some horses looking out of the stables to see who was passing. Across the field and into the woods where there had been a coke oven and steam engine used by the Arley coal mine. No evidence of this remains apart from a tall chimney, the spoil heaps and capped mine head. Coal was transported via a tram road (named after the inventor Benjamin Outram) to the south section of the Lancaster canal (which became part of the Leeds Liverpool canal).
Across another muddy field we were pursued by some larger heifers taking particular interest in the dogs that were with us. In the scramble to exit the field and escape their attention Merlin the dog over exerted himself and couldn’t continue. Anne turned back along the road to get the vet to look at him. He was checked out and pronounced well with just some irritation of his arthritis. Meanwhile the rest of us continued past the Middle Row cottages near Red Rock then along the canal towards Abbey Farm and Arley Hall. We stopped by the canal in the trees for elevenses.
As we passed Arley Hall we looked in the moat to see the black swans had returned. After being absent for a year while mink were removed, it was deemed safe for them to take up residence again. Walking on through Arley woods we took the path across to Crowshaw Hall farm passing a field of broad beans with the pods hanging heavily. Strange how they can grow them in Adlington and yet the supermarket has to import them from Portugal.
Onward across the River Douglas again we walked up to the canal and across Bridge 64 (Arley Bridge). Four of our party turned back towards Blackrod at this point while the rest of us headed towards the Cherry Tree country pub for lunch. After some excellent food and convivial conversation, the last mile walking up to Blackrod passed easily by. Another successful walk, despite the mud. One has to keep up standards after all! Vic
NEXT WALK is on Tuesday the 16th August over Rivington. Starts at 10am at the car park at the top of the Belmont road (Sheephouse Lane) out of Rivington. Lunch at the Black Dog pub in Belmont afterwards. There will be a pickup at St Katherine’s church at 9:30 for anyone without transport. Anne McMillan will lead. Her number is 07884 281374.