NW Tonight had a feature on what keeps people happy during lockdown with all the inevitable children and pets videos. It did however set me thinking what keeps me happy. It’s difficult to say; I’ve hardly seen my family in 10months, I’ve lost two of my best friends, I’ve not been abroad for a year or more, the weather’s not that good, I’m eating and drinking too much, the house needs a good clean, I didn’t get out of my dressing gown the other day. Enough.
But the phone never stopped last night, even when I was about to eat, friends wanting to chat, friends needing to unload their latest worries, family checking up on me, friends sharing a joke about Trump, friends despondent with the crisis. I eventually ate at 10pm and just had time to plot a route for today, Friday. I felt a little happier.
The day broke sunny and bright for my planned walk – down to Ribchester and back to look at the Ribble in high water. There have been floods in many parts of the country but mercifully the Ribble Valley has escaped this time.
A gentleman, who turned out to be a fisherman, approached me and asked as to the whereabouts of Spade Mill Reservoirs, I was going that way, so we fell into step as I guided him down Tan Yard. He had driven up to Longridge from …. to look at the possibilities of future fishing in our reservoirs if only he could find a way in. There was no entry where I had imagined, so we walked on to The Corporation Arms. [A pub uniquely owned by a water board, Preston] I left him in his search and set off down the main road. In a few hundred metres I bumped into a couple I know leading to a 15minutes, socially distanced, catchup chat. Another few hundred metres and another couple and another 15minutes chat. Next my mobile rang, it was the doctors’ surgery inviting me for my Covid vaccination. That did make me happy.
At the site of the old Ribchester Hospital, once a work house, then a ‘mental institution’ and now residential properties, I turn down Fleet Lane. On past converted barns which always seem to be bigger and better than their parent farms.
It linked up with a marked Bridleway taking me around fields to go through an industrialised farmyard where I was challenged – “there is no way through here “. (Checking with the Lancashire County Council website later the right of way seems to have been moved but not uploaded onto my OS map.)
I was in my rights to enter the churchyard of St. Wilfrids where there is a Saxon cross base and a bench to eat my sandwich. You can read more of the church and the neighbouring Roman Museum in a walk I did at the end of 2019.
I opted for a straightforward walk up the pavement of Preston Road as far as Angels Restaurant (formerly The Cross Keys Inn) Here I took the quiet Ward Green Lane steeply up to the Written Stone, onwards up another washed out path.
When we came this way in November a man was repairing a wall, his work is now finished, but I wonder if it was worth it as the next stretch is decidedly ropey.
Through the former Green Bank Quarry, now housing and the infamous Craig Y Longridge with views over the Spade Mill Reservoirs passed earlier in the day. Higher Road and Longridge were busy with socially distanced walkers.
The walk, the sunshine and the chance meetings have helped my happiness scale.