After last week’s heroics in the high Bowland Fells today was a gentle rural walk. My son suggested a walk for his day off. Where? I asked. “What about Brock Bottoms, I’ve not been there for years” I’m writing it up as a 4-mile walk some of you may want to follow, a perfect evening stroll.
We used to take the boys along the Brock getting on for 50 years ago, so I’m pleased he still has it in his mind set. (I must have done something right in their upbringing) I remember paddling down the stream to the remains of the mill in the valley all those years ago, not for us the riverside path. I have written before on the history of the mill – Brock Mill was once a thriving water-driven cotton spinning mill with up to twenty cottages in the valley for the workers. The mill was probably built in the 1790s. After a chequered history and two reincarnations as a roller making factory, and then a file making factory the mill finally closed in the 1930s. For some time the ground floor of the mill operated as a café, whilst the top floor was used for dancing on Saturday nights!
What will we find today?
Along with my son Chris I’ve enlisted Mike for a short walk with promises of a curry afterwards. Surprisingly the picnic car park at Higher Brock Bridge itself is quiet. What a contrast from those Covid days when every space was taken by cars isolating from each other.
A few dog walkers are around but within 200 m of the car park we meet no one else. The water level is very low reflecting the recent dry spell. I seem to think the path has been ‘improved’ over the years. Lots of wild garlic, fading bluebells, stitchwort, red campions, hawthorn and other Spring blossoms deserve our attention. The valley is very steep sided along here.
We leave the main path to explore the ruins of Brock Mill. Until now, we have been walking along the line of the mill race or Leat. There is little left to see. Where were the associated cottages? Where was the main wheel? All is jungle with Himalayan Balsam taking over.
Rather than go back to the main path we struggle on a riverside trail, not recommended. Once out into the open meadows the going is easier and we soon reach the elegant Walmsley Bridge. For some reason the road is blocked and yet everything looks OK with the bridge. It was only when we walked up the lane did we find a landslide that had taken half the road down into the Brock. Could be a while before this lane is reopened, fortunately no premises have been cut off.
At the corner we take a farm lane I’ve never used before. The farm turns out to be massive agricultural sheds in the modern manner. A traditional cockerel guards the approach, but the path goes around the edge of the buildings with little fuss, no doubt an unofficial diversion but no problem. The farm house itself is named Throstle Nest with one of its barns converted to luxury living. The access lane soon has back on the minor road.
A bridleway could have taken us back down to Brock Bottom, but we stay on the quiet road for half a mile, passing some delightful Lancashire farmhouses. Another footpath I haven’t used before takes us straight through fields below Beacon Fell onto the lane which drops us back down to the picnic spot where we are the only car remaining.
A very pleasant 4 mile round through the Lancashire countryside.
The hastily put together curry supper was a success as well.