Spring has arrived for a simple circuit making the most of the unspectacular Whittingham countryside. A route through fields was planned checking out some stiles that Mike had had difficulty with recently.
We started in Cow Hill again. It was busy with cyclists and family groups walking around the block, all looked over by the ginger cat. At the bottom where Savick Brook was crossed, with three buzzards wheeling overhead, we took the Bridleway up the hill behind the strangely quiet kennels. We knew about the fierce hound that stalks the yard of Seed Hill Farm. The way has been diverted around barns to avoid the farmyard and dog. From here a lane leads up to and crosses Haighton Green Lane into soggy fields that we followed towards Whittingham. There were no waymarks so prior knowledge was of great help. A wooden footbridge has been washed away but fortunately there is a brick farm bridge close by. The path goes through the farmyard of Whittingham Hall Farm which was previously part of Whittingham Psychiatric Hospital where inmates would have work. In a barn today there was a remote robotic cleaner going round the cows, I’ve never seen one of those before.
At one time there were over 2500 patients with its own railway, telephone exchange, church, post office, reservoirs, gas works, brewery, orchestra, brass band and ballroom. It has been closed since 1995, many buildings have been demolished and planned housing developments have stuttered. We walked around the back of some new houses and the church which is boarded up onto the main road. The footpath sign shown in the header photo dates from the old hospital days.
Fortunately there is a footway on the road to Withy Trees where we took to the fields once more. This took us through an Alpaca Farm, but today there were only sheep and three donkeys. Across the way Harrison’s Farm is a metal recycling plant and the footpath is diverted around it. It was near here that one of the broken stiles was encountered and was very awkward to cross – or are we getting old. Duly reported to the Local Authority – not our age but the state of the stile. It will be interesting to see if anything is done about it, a lot of organisations are hiding behind Covid rules. Normally Lancashire is very good at footpath repairs. In the fields here is the clear course of the railway which served Whittingham Hospital.
Better tracks through Dixon’s brought us onto Grimsargh Green and back to Cow Hill.
The walk seemed longer than the measured 6 miles, Mike uses ‘Strava’ but he usually forgets to switch it on and off leaving some of our walks without a beginning or end.