Monday 23rd November. 5 miles. Longridge.
There have been debates on the route of the Roman road from Ribchester to Lancaster and where it crosses Longridge Fell. LIDAR technology has been used to reveal archaeological features. Using Lidar, experts now think it went on a slant past Longridge to Inglewhite and on to Catterall before heading due north. http://www.romanroads.org/gazetteer/rib-catt.htm
You learn something new every day.
I wanted to have a look at the section coming up to Longridge, Mike was happy to join me on this simple exploration which should give us a ‘good’ short walk.
We started off at the top of Longridge above the reservoirs, walked through one of the old stone quarries and down a lane, which would have rattled with clogs in the C19th, The new housing estate on the right has probably been built on the line of the Roman road. Along here next to the reservoirs is The Corporation Arms, said to be the only pub owned by a council waterboard. Fortunately there is a pavement alongside the busy road until we could turn off and head towards a farm called Stonelands, probably parallel with the Roman Road. In a field is the Roman milestone pinpointed by the grid ref. SD 62307/37134 [red dot on my map below spot height 111]. Its setting is not ideal next to a children’s play structure and alongside more modern carved stone gateposts. These have an inscription of PG 07, query sculptor and date?
The milestone itself is thought to have been inverted at some time, the squarish top would be more normal as a base. Apparently there was an inscription dedicated to Emperor Maximian c. 300 AD, but we could make nothing out. PS. I have just found in an online journal, Britannia, a picture of the milestone before it was ‘replanted’, it had been found used as a gate post.
Our onward public footpath follows the line of the Roman road as far as Pinfold and in the next field the line of the agger was clearly seen although it doesn’t show up well in my photos looking towards Ribchester. The field between The Corporation Arms and Stonelands is supposed to also show the agger well but I couldn’t make it out, though it does seem to show up on satellite images.
The agger was the raised ground dug as a base for the road, usually ‘scoop’ ditches are then apparent on either side. It is these changes in ground level that are picked up by the LIDAR surveys. On we marched.
Our next objective was Buckley Hall, Mike had worked on the adjacent farm buildings 39 years ago creating an upmarket dwelling. The hall itself is C17th but has been rebuilt over the years. The date stone originally stated 1662, belonging to the Shireburn family.
Our next objective was Dilworth Bottoms which we used to visit regularly when friends lived there. This area is delightful Lancashire countryside with undulating fields and deep gills, the site of many mills in the past. Our proposed way seemed to be blocked at a pair of footbridges, we didn’t descend to investigate but followed another path to the immaculate Cage Mill. Following Cowley Brook we came into Dilworth Bottoms. There is a cluster of houses down here linked by fords across the stream. At one time there were several mills, cotton and bobbin, associated weaving cottages and a Smithy, all dependent on the running water. The mills have gone but the other properties have been renovated for modern living. The next stretch of path was a disaster, it looked bad going down over a ditch and then climbing what turned out to be the skipping out pile from stables above. I’ve marked it on my map with a red cross, skull and crossbones would have been better. Nobody had been this way for years but fortunately the owner we met at the top was of good humour and showed us a way out of his property passing a green looking outside pool. There were horses and ponies everywhere. All a bit surreal. I hardly have the enthusiasm to report this Public Right Of Way obstruction to the authorities but perhaps I should.
Up the lane was another blast from the past. I’ve written about the Written Stone several times before. https://cryofthesedge.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-written-stone-of-dilworth/
The bridleway brought us back up into the village by the caravan park and our last encounter of the day. A man was reconstructing a stone wall damaged by moles undermining it. We got talking about all things local until he launched into sermon of the Methodist Faith with some dodgy references to race and sexuality. On we marched.