Thursday 10th December. 6.5 miles. Calder Vale.
My last visit to Calder Vale was in February just before the lockdowns commenced. Almost a whole year gone when I have been restricted by one Covid measure or another, its grim up North. That day I walked through the yard of Cobble Hey who run a popular farm café, they were due to open the next day for the season. Speaking to a girl there today they have been barely able to function at all, the customers just disappeared. She was hoping for better things next year.
The route I had planned for today had me approaching the Calder from above using paths untravelled. I parked at the summit of Stang Yule, the road linking my area to Dolphinholme across the edge of the Bleasdale Hills. All was grey all around me. The distant Fylde Coast a blur and the surrounding fell tops uninviting.
At the first farm I came to, Rough Moor, a couple were planting a new hawthorn hedge, well over 600 plants, I admired their enthusiasm and the renovated farm and barns will become desirable country living advertised in Lancashire Life. At least they had provided good stiles and waymarking around the property. As you walk down the hillside there is no clue that below is the once thriving mill village. I passed a few more smart houses before walking through the grounds of St. John’s Church and adjoining school. The church and school were built in this rather isolated position as they served both the Calder Vale and Oakenclough communities. A path leads down through the woods into Calder Vale, I wonder how many children still walk this way to school each day.
There is plenty to see in the village which always seems busy because of the working mill in the centre, There are remnants of the water power from the Calder, workers’ cottages, Methodist Chapel, manager’s house and the large Lappet Mill itself. The post office and village shop have closed and there is no sign of the Temperance Hotel. I left your Christmas presents under the tree.
The paths through the next few fields were untrodden even this year when the world and his dog have been out exercising. My legs became more and more splattered with mud and I don’t know what else. On reaching Delph Lane I could have easily walked up it to my car but something made me obstinately carry on with my planned route. The footpath was sensibly diverted around the next farm, High Moor, but I was apprehensive as I approached Broadgate, a typical sprawling shambles of a farm – more industrial than agricultural. My GPS proved essential to navigate through. The continuing lane was a mess from timber extraction.
I knew the next field to be muddier than most from a visit a few years back with my old mate Mel, sadly deceased this year. We had set off on a simple walk in trainers on the estate roads around Bleasdale when I suddenly spotted a footpath leaving the dry lanes across this very field. I cannot repeat his comments as we slowly sank into the almost knee-high mud but kept going nonetheless and laughed about later in the pub. That’s what friends are for. Today I was heading in the opposite direction towards the big house, Bleasdale Tower which looks austere at the best of times – I often imagine a face at that upper window, Rochester and Jane Eyre below. Today I just get the face of a friendly sheep in the paddock below.
I’ve touched on the interesting history of the Bleasdale Estate in previous posts.
Today as the afternoon wore on I had an easy walk back up the estate road to my car at the high spot. It was still grey all around but I’d perversely enjoyed the afternoon though I doubt few others would have.
I’ve just come back from the supermarket where outside a class of junior children were singing carols. I was emotional today, and they brought tears to my eyes which is always difficult when wearing a mask.