An urban rural walk.
Call me a wimp or whatever, but I’m keeping my walks to lowland lanes at the moment. Good surfaces and a modest distance. I’m rather pleased I didn’t cycle today as to start there was a fresh wind which seemed much stronger than the forecast suggested.
Haighton is a scattered farming community to the east of the M6 between Fulwood,Preston and Grimsargh. Possibly best known for the C17 Haighton Manor, a well respected and longstanding dining establishment. I have included walks through Haighton in the past here and here and briefly here.
Coincidentally these other variations were all walked in the early quiet Spring months, as of now. “For everything there is a season” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. A time, add another turn for Haighton. Also, time for a tune, a bit of optimism doesn’t go amiss at present. I remember hearing many other artists covering this song during the 60s live folk scene in London.
A good reason to repeat parts of those walks today is that Haighton Green Lane was closed to through traffic due to new gas mains being installed. It is normally a busy rat run route in and out of north Preston with speeding motorists, not the safest of pedestrian routes.
I find a small parking space at the bottom end of Cow Hill and stroll down the hill to cross Londonderry Bridge over Savick Brook which winds its way down from Longridge. Ahead are the gates and security cameras of Haighton House, once the residence of David Moyes when he managed Preston and then Everton. I slip up a narrow bridleway alongside the noisy kennels and climb into the woods.
At the top was always a gate securely guarded by a fierce mastiff. The PROW went through the farmyard, but he ensured that one followed the ‘illegal’ diversion around buildings. But today the gate is open with no sign, hopefully, of the dog, but I still take the long route just to be sure. The amount of accumulated waste building materials dumped alongside the rural lane farther on has grown since I was last along.
I come out onto Haighton Green Lane at the top. It is indeed closed to traffic but being a Sunday no work is taking place, (no wonder road schemes go on for months – one would think that if a closure was in place the contractors should work at full pace) Despite the narrow route some drivers try to squeeze through only to back up when they meet another vehicle. On the whole though the lane is peace and quiet.
I’m tempted to go off down Fernyhalgh Lane past the old school (where my children started) the church and Ladywell Shrine, a shortcut back to Savick Brook. But no, I need the mileage and the day is fine, so I continue on the road whilst it is virtually traffic free. There are some fine houses along here as well as the original farms.
Crossing the M6 motorway I stop to watch the southbound lanes coming to a standstill., a well-known black spot. Preston Bypass, as it was known then in 1958, was the first motorway to open in the UK. Since those days it has been incorporated into the M6 with new junctions and carriageways. I try to avoid driving on busy motorways with their frequent hold-ups and after my frightening experience of breaking down last year on a ‘smart’ section of motorway that has been reinforced.
By now we are now on the edge of the countryside. Housing developments are met, creeping out of Preston along the once country road on both sides. I am no stranger to these as they are also engulfing the Preston Guild Wheel cycle route which I now turn onto. I slip past industrial units, smart new office blocks and the back of an Asda superstore. But it is traffic free and not so bad. Lots of people use these stretches for recreation, strolling, dog walking and cycling. Walking today instead of my usual cycling I notice more connecting footpaths going off in all directions and stretches of linear woodlands inviting investigation, many signed by that admirable charity The Woodland Trust. That gives me an idea for a time researching them and a day of exploration and maybe linking them together. When I think back I seem to member Clare of Dreams and Adventures at Cosy Cottage writing about them during lockdown.
The section of the Guild Wheel through Hindley Hill Woods above Savick Brook is always a delight and I turn off onto Fernyhalgh Lane, though I notice more woodland paths on the north side of the Brook I could have used.
Now back under the motorway, at the bridge I don’t climb to Ladywell shrine but take the road into the grounds of Haighton House. A lovely stretch through the well-kept estate alongside the river. Then a more wild stretch above the convoluted water, an Ox-Bow Lake is obvious and soon there will be more, even the path has been washed away here.
I’m soon back at Cow Hill and a climb up the lane to my car.
The temperature had by now slowly nudged into double figures and I felt decidedly overdressed, but I’m not going to complain. It was still only noon when I arrived back home, so I had time for a short bouldering session up at Craig y. I was the only one there, I wonder why, after the crowds last Sunday. Compare and contrast,as my art teacher used to say.
Variety is the spice of life.