Another interesting Lancashire ride plucked from the bikehike cycle routes map, utilising NCR 90 and 6 plus some other bits I made up on the way. Don’t forget, by clicking the pictures may be magnified.
I’ve been reading a book over the last few nights, ‘Lancashire Magic and Mystery’ by a Kenneth Fields. It is far more than the mysterious, delving into the history and culture of the Red Rose County. I’d never heard of Plough Sunday before, a celebration of the start of the agricultural year in the first weeks of January. The book informed me that in agricultural parishes, a plough would be taken into church for blessing. This morning I found myself wandering around the grounds of Winmarleigh Church, St. Luke’s, and there by the entrance was a plough. I wondered about the connection.
I had stopped initially because of a mausoleum I could see in the churchyard, it was dedicated to the Reddaway family of Winmarleigh Hall who had been instrumental in the church’s construction in 1875. Lord Winmarleigh, paying the renowned Lancaster architects Paley and Austin for its design and build. He lived across the way in Winmarleigh Hall.
Surprised to find the church door open, I stepped inside. A long nave took my eyes to the chancel, with an impressive organ in the south porch. Whilst I was going forwards, I surprised a lady engrossed in her church duties. We chatted away about the church and its past. Her main concern was the financial support for the church in a small community. I brought up the topic of ‘Plough Sunday’. She remembered, as a child, ploughs being brought into the church but now said that a tractor with a plough draws up outside to be blessed on Plough Sunday. What a wonderful piece of history. (The plough turned out to be a seeding machine)
I was on a cycle ride from Garstang, on the Wyre, to Pilling, bordering the Lune. It was all fairly flat drained land, and being so open the westerly headwind seemed troublesome. Once I had turned the corner and was heading to Cockerham, my pedalling became much easier and the miles slipped by. A sign said ‘kill your speed, not a cyclist‘. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the rushing motors. Anyhow, I survived into Cockerham and soon escaped onto a quieter lane signed optimistically ‘The Lancashire Cycleway’.
Dodging around the main road, I was soon on a fast series of lanes over the Lancaster Canal, over the busy A6 and around the Bay Horse and railway. Hollins Lane took me past a friends’ house who were unfortunately away.
I took the opportunity to have a look at Shireshead Old Church,1805. It is now used as a recording studio, yet the graveyard seems to be well maintained.
A steep lane took me down into the Wyre valley, where there are a group of fishing lakes close to the motorway. In the distance was the tower of Forton Service station, Grade II listed along with the churches I visited, and the spire of Scorton church, a well-known M6 landmark. Looming over all is Nicky Nook, 214m.
Do any pupils use this bus stop?
I cycled along a private road through Wyresdale Park which is now a wedding venue, glamping site and private fishing lake with a popular café for those climbing Nicky Nook. I ignored the café and continued into Scorton where there is a temporary takeaway serving coffee and snacks from a Citroën van. Refreshed, I was soon back at my parked car, no not the Mustang.
That mention of Plough Sunday takes me back. I’m glad you’re finding Kenneth’s book interesting. I’d no idea the tradition was still practised, but I’ve read this morning it’s seeing something of a revival.
Kenneth had a book of ancient and obscure feast days – both pagan and Christian – and used it as an excuse to organise pub lunches on a frequent basis, saying we were celebrating such and such a date. Plough Monday – the day after Plough Sunday, was one of them.
Take care in that traffic!
Plough Monday in the pub sounds a good idea.
Our church used to have a Plough Sunday service but sadly our new vicar doesn’t seem at all keen on the idea. It was paused because of Covid but I doubt if it will restart. The local Molly dancers – https://old-glory.org.uk/ – have the plough and used to decorate it and bring it to church to be blessed on the Sunday. The following evening they collected it and processed down the lane to the local pub where they danced and obtained money from the locals ‘with menaces’. If you click on the link you can read about them and see a photo of the group posing in the church porch on Plough Monday.
Oh, thanks for that information, Clare.
The YouTube video set the atmosphere well. I thought the men with those flares looked highly dangerous, no wonder your vicar is wary.
The church I visited still has a tractor and plough pull up outside for a blessing. There was no mention of Plough Monday.
Not that long ago the Forton Services were painted a similar blue to that coffee truck. It was definitely more striking looking then. Plough Sunday sounds like a good tradition, I feel like I have heard of it, maybe from many years ago when I was a pupil at Downham School.
I don’t remember it painted blue. We would have a trip up the motorway for a coffee in the tower! It closed to the public in 1989 because of fire regulations.
There has been quite a lot in the local media this week about Downham. Sixty years since ‘Whistle down the wind’ was filmed. Before your time.
A large part of your route round Scorton/Pilling/Bay Horse/Cockerham etc I’ve driven round a couple of times on vintage tractor runs. There was one point – and I can’t remember exactly where – where we actually drove into the Wyre and several yards up it before driving out at the other side. I always think the tower at Forton Services looks like an airport control tower – it’s one of my landmarks whenever I’m on the M6. And I love the colour of that car, it’s gorgeous 🙂
I don’t know where that ford could be but will look out for it.
The service station tower was actually designed to resemble a control tower.