On our doorstep are two of the North’s great rivers, the Hodder and the Ribble. I don’t need an excuse to walk along either of them, and today I combine the two where they merge at Winkley on past Hurst Green. I park at the prominent bus stop just before the road drops down to the Lower Hodder Bridge. My previous posts on this area contain far more history and information than I’m about to give you on today’s short walk.
Hop across the road into fields and I’m on the popular Tolkien Trail and the not so popular Ribble Way. The well trodden ground shows just how popular anything to do with Tolkien has become, I estimate that 50% of people visiting Hurst Green walk the trail. Today I’m only sampling it. Soon I’m into the grounds of Winkley Hall and then become distracted by some fine bracket fungi.
Past the farm with its ancient moat, now boasting a new ‘duck house’, and there is the Winkley Oak. Today I measured the circumference of the bole, 13m which is over 40 feet. somewhere I have read that it is almost 500 years old. This tree is an old friend of mine and I am pleased to see it in fine form.
By the fishermen’s hut the River Hodder slides into the River Ribble which continues it’s stately way to the sea. It is helped on its way a little farther by the smaller Calder coming from Burnley via Whalley. This latter junction is where the Hacking Ferry boat plied its trade until the 50s. The boat house is a little farther round the bend. I have always been intrigued by the tumulus marked on the map nearby and I try a long distance shot of it. The river is in gentle mood today but flood debris in the trees shows how turbulent it can become after heavy rain.
Soon after Jumbles I’m off the regular trail and heading up the hill to Cross Gills Farm. On the way I meet the lady farmer driving her buggy and checking on her sheep which she can recognise individually. We chat about all things farming, she is uncertain as to the future now that perhaps food can be created in the laboratory. A frightening thought. I’m offered a lift in her buggy up the steep hill to her farm, but that would be cheating wouldn’t it? and I may have missed these fungi and the view over the Ribble.
Straight across the main road into Stonyhurst College land. I circle the cricket pitch with it’s lovely period pavilion.
Out past Gardener’s Cottage onto the road leading back to my car. Halfway along I’m accosted by a lady, doesn’t happen often, who knows me from my past. Once I recollect who she is we spend more time lamenting the demise of all things important to the fabric of our society. That’s two conversations today reflecting on our past and our future, and I was only out for a bit of exercise. That’s how it goes around here with such lovely folk. I reach the car just as it starts raining – serendipity. And there is Pendle as ever keeping a watch over the Ribble Valley.