As the crow flies it is 4 miles from Longridge to Samlesbury, where BAE Systems [previously British Aerospace] is based, however the River Ribble is only bridged at Ribchester or Preston both giving a far longer journey. A friend of mine would in summer take a short cut down Alston Lane and ford the river with his bike straight to work. Today I tried to identify the place he crossed but of course there was a lot of water running, I think the above photo is roughly the spot and I shall investigate further next summer.
Anyhow back to the beginning. Lethargy and other pressing problems these last few days have kept me in; it is easy to slip into this mood when the clocks change and Winter approaches, that is the reason I normally go off to sunnier climes. I planned this route last night and set the alarm so I was committed to venture forth. There was a window in the weather so timing was crucial which still gave me a leisurely breakfast. I was parked up at 10am, My clockwise circuit ment walking on the main road for a few hundred metres alongside the ghastly development of new houses, all dumper trucks and lorries. Why have they seen fit to obliterate over a 100m of hedging to gain access to the fields? This did not put me in a good mood.
Thankfully I soon turned down Pinfold Lane [pinfold – a pound for stray animals] and looked into the adjacent field where I found the base of the ancient Bolton Fold Cross which I’d not noticed before.
There were a couple with binoculars in the hides overlooking the wetlands adjoining the lane. I couldn’t see anything of interest except a long view to St. Lawrence’s Church and the prominent Dog Inn in Longridge.
Over towards Pendle there were darker clouds contrasting with the sunlit autumn foliage. Lanes linked little farms, most now converted into modern residences. A lot has changed since I last came this way. I bumped into the father of climbing brothers from the past and we chatted about old times. A farmer further on was more expressive [forthright as only farmers can be] about the world’s problems. All in a day’s walk. Hereabouts The Ribble Way crossed my path heading towards Ribchester on the line of a Roman road, of which there is little evidence.
At last the object of my walk, the River Ribble, was glimpsed through the trees below. The river here makes a looping curve around flat fields with an escarpment on the south side. Ducks were floating in groups and when disturbed fired off in all directions like some of this weeks explosives. I do not understand why the Ribble Way doesn’t follow this delightful stretch of rural Lancashire.
Once past the ‘ford’ I was looking for C17th Old Alston Hall but only had a glimpse of it across private gardens. Higher up the lane is the C19th gothic Alston Hall which was used as an education centre by Lanc’s County Council until being sold to a private buyer. I won’t add fuel to the rumours of its recent extensive fire and plans for redevelopment. The observatory run by the University seems unaffected.
It was a relaxing walk up Alston Lane, noticing all the recent residential conversions, back to my car. As I reached it the rain started in earnest – it’s all about timing.