Ainsworth Village, I’ve never been here before, somewhere between Bolton and Bury.
It was time I met up with my friends from here about, the plastic bag man and the professor. The Email said meet at the Duke William, 4pm for a short walk and a meal. I drove up and down the ‘main’ street a few times before realising the pub in question was tucked away on the old toll road, Well Street. It looked inviting, an old coaching inn dating from the C17th and grade II listed so full of little rooms. We booked a table for 5.30 and set off walking.
The plastic bag man had discovered this area whilst being dragged around by his son’s dog and this evening we followed him faithfully. Within a few hundred yards he realised he’d gone wrong and our faith rapidly diminished but it was a lovely evening so we chilled out and continued in hope, ignoring the backtracking. We didn’t have a map so we were totally in his hands. The track to the Ainsworth Nursing Home [previously a smallpox isolation hospital] was avoided amongst jibes as to whom would be needing it first. Somewhere we passed an attractive row of hand weavers’ cottages but I failed to find them on the map later. Suddenly a reservoir appeared, one of three Lowercroft reservoirs built for some works lower down, presumably cotton mills. We were already in beautiful rural surroundings, that’s the thing about Lancashire mill country there are always green spaces close at hand, even if they are hidden. This used to be known as ‘Black Sheep Country’ a reference to the soot from factory and mill chimneys that once settled on the fleeces of nearby stock. How things have changed.
The track traversed round the water up to a further reservoir or lodge as they are called in these parts. There was the usual mixture of ducks, coots and Canadian geese but also a few swans. A bridge took us over a stream and we then seemed to be heading back. Our guide confidently took us up the drive of some expensive house from where smaller tracks brought us back to the village passing some interesting properties – Hooks Cottage, with its dated lintel, and the Unitarian Chapel.
Supper in the pub was just OK but still we enjoyed an hour or so of friends’ catch up.
On the way tonight we had noticed waymarks for the Village Link. Further research shows this to be a well planned walk linking the historic villages of Holcombe, Hawkshaw, Affetside, Ainsworth, Greenmount and Nangreaves. www.village-link.com