I must have been somewhat dazed when I left Hapton Station as within 15mins I was lost and heading back almost to where I started but once orientated I made a direct route into Padiham where I stumbled into an unexpected cafe [the Belly Buster] for coffee.
Anyhow after the coffee break my brain kicked into action and I was soon following the River Calder out of Padiham and into the Grove Lane Greenway. All peace and birdsong, it is difficult to imagine this area amongst the trees hosted a coal colliery relatively recently . Across the fields was Burnley F.C. training ground and also Gawthorpe Hall. The latter is the end of The Bronte Way from Bradford which I hope to complete with Sir Hugh later in the year when he is fully recovered.
What looked on the map like a riverside path turned out to be a tarmacked lane so I made good progress. The day was overcast and warm, I seemed to be sweating profusely and not feeling good. For no obvious reason I started to have a longing for chips. Were the two connected?
At a bridge across the Calder near an old ford, lots of sand-martins flying low, I met up with the said Bronte Way and also the Pendle Way [completed not without interest 20 years ago – another story involving the Mountain Rescue when I didn’t need rescuing.] Climbing steeply out of the valley the paths seemed to be little walked but the signing remained good and I kept on course. Mention of Pendle made me realise I had not seen this dominating hill today in the poor visibility but there across the valley it appeared out of the mist.
A series of horsey fields were traversed and suddenly I was looking down into the sprawling mass that is Burnley. Urban parks by the river led past a Holiday Inn, a holiday in Burnley? and down to join the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This goes into the heart of Burnley and an area named the Weavers’ Triangle – a collection of 19th century mills and warehouses from when the town was a major cotton-weaving centre. There are ruined buildings and alongside renovated ones providing office and living spaces. Several weaving sheds were still visible with their distinctive sawtooth roofs giving Northern light. A covered wharf appeared and next to it a pub in a converted warehouse, The Inn on the Wharf. Despite the fact that I was carrying lunch the craving for chips got the better of me and I was soon sat with a pint of Copper Dragon, a salad sandwich and a portion of home made chips.
Back on the canal after a couple of turns and more derelict wharves and mills you come to the ‘Straight mile’ where the canal runs along an embankment 60ft above the town. Easy walking with views to the new developments in town to the left and Turf Moor football stadium to the right. I am reminded of the former great days of Burnley FC with the outspoken Bob Lord at the helm, they won the league in 1960 – oh happy days. What struck me most about this stretch of the Leeds – Liverpool Canal was that there were no boats which is at odds with most stretches of our inland waterways. At the end of the embankment the canal crosses the river Brun [said to be the origin of Burnley’s name – Brunlea] A double back under the canal takes you into the Brun Valley Park a greenway leading out of town. A large part of this area was a former colliery though you wouldn’t know it today with all the mature trees in new parkland. Rather crudely carved wooden marker posts served this stretch of the Way bringing me out at Netherwood Bridge though there seemed a multitude of alternative tracks through the muddy woods. Hereabouts I took a more direct line up to the equestrian farm, busy with girls grooming horses and mucking out vast pile of manure. Further up the hill the Burnley way was rejoined for a stretch downhill into a hidden valley, orchids were plentiful on the damp meadows. At the bottom there was a little footbridge over the River Don, a stream really. What a lovely spot for a lazy Summer’s day – oh I had forgotten it is Summer.
A series of old stone flagged steps lead out of the valley, these steps go by the local name of Ogglty Cogglty whose meaning has been lost in time. At the top of the steep slippery ascent indistinct field paths go up towards Queen’s Mill in Harle Syke. This large mill in a side street apparently is the last working steam powered mill but it all looked very closed to the public today.
To be continued…