I was deterred by these signs on what I thought was a right of way the other day. I didn’t have a map at hand, so I opted out and walked up the lane. There is a hidden side to Hurst Green, large expensive properties guarding their privacy, but public footpaths shouldn’t be lost or walkers intimidated. Officially all Public Footpaths should be signed where they leave a public highway but speaking to officers on the Local Authority these signs regularly disappear.
The morning’s heavy rain has passed, and I’m back armed with the latest 1:25,000 map and approach from the other end near the old bobbin mill on Dean Brook. There are predictably no waymarkers, but the start of the path is clear above the Brook. I walk past properties that were probably mill workers’ cottages in the past and soon come out onto the lane, The Dean, which drops from the village crossing the brook and climbs back into the countryside. Curiosity satisfied I’m on my way.
The quiet road heads upwards with views over the Ribble Valley opening up to the south. I know there is a path somewhere leaving it to climb Doe Hill , but I can’t find it initially in the heavy vegetation. Is that it, hidden away?
Once into the field I can see the trig point, Doe Hill, one I’ve never knowingly visited before, a short distance away. More interesting is the nearby clump of beech trees, maybe 30 or 40, all growing as one. How long have they been here – a couple of hundred years or more? There is a vestige of a wall enclosing them, who planted them and why? A magic place, I half expect a troupe of fairies to be dancing around., it is the summer solstice after all. Whatever it is a good viewpoint – Longridge Fell, Pendle and the Ribble Valley.
I pick my way across fields full of buttercups, finding stiles in the appropriate places and come back out onto the lane heading to Greengore, a C16th hunting lodge for the Shireburn family, which I’ve photographed many times before. There appears to be some building work going on at an adjacent barn, let’s hope it doesn’t distract from the Grade II listed Greengore property.
I knew of the sturdy bench at the junction of lanes and was glad to sit for some refreshment, it was still a very muggy day. The lane dropping to Dean Brook, yes the same one, is bordered by hedges full of roses and honeysuckle, with foxgloves pushing through the bracken.
Crossing the bridge I am reminded of bringing my children and then my grandchildren here for the simple pleasure of ‘pooh sticks’. Even today I can’t resist dropping a stick upstream and watching it emerge farther down.
Hidden away just off the track is Sand Rock, all that remains of a large sandstone quarry used in the construction of Hurst Green Itself. I divert here to see if my lost favourite orange cap is anywhere to be found, I last had it on when I came looking in here at the rock face a few days ago. Some lower boulder problems are chalked up, evidence of recent interest. We climbed a route up the middle of the quarried face, Vanilla Slice E2 5c, in 2002, it looks impossible to me now. No sign of my cap.
Onwards alonside the brook cascading down the soft sandstone rocks which have been smoothed into beautiful curves over the ages. Plainly visible today are the remnants of the dam footings and ongoing leat supplying the bobbin mill farther down valley (where I started my walk today).
I’m back at my car after this short, 2.5 mile, but interesting exploratory walk. The black clouds have blown away, and the sun is beginning to come out. I have another site I want to look at, the Stonyhurst Roman Catholic cemetery just up the road. I’ve always been fascinated by the mausoleum type chapel visible through the railings from the roadside, but never visited. Going through the gates into the cemetery one is immediately drawn to a white statue of Christ with Pendle as a backdrop. The cemetery is laid out with mature coniferous trees forming stately corridors between the many vaulted graves. The Mortuary Chapel is dated from 1825, but I can’t find out if it is dedicated to any particular family. Does anybody know more details?