Tag Archives: Art and architecture.

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY 1. Upholland to Burscough.

Stunning Dean Brook.

A train to Wigan, a bus ride and I’m in West Lancashire armed with my latest walking guide, A Lancashire Monastic Way. Not the best of starts – my first monastery, the remains of Upholland Priory – is a wall in the car park of the local Conservative Club.

I was exploring the grounds of St. Thomas the Martyr Church in Upholland. The church grounds were extensive, I’m always amazed by the number of graves in some of these old churches. In fact, there were so many graves that the stones have been used to pave the area around the building. The Benedictine monks established a priory here in 1319. Monasteries served as hospitals, schools and places of refuge for the needy and homeless but by the Dissolution, the priory here was only helping two elderly and two school children. The chancel of the priory became the nave of today’s Parish Church and the rest of the monastery dispersed, apart from that wall. Due to my early start, I was unable to see the interior of the church which apparently has a window made from medieval glass found in the ruins.

As this is a ‘Monastic Way’ I’d better educate myself on the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The Dissolution of the Monasteries was a process instituted by Henry VIII  between 1536 and 1541 where monasteries, priories, friaries and convents were appropriated by the Crown.  Henry wished to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, for failing to give him a male heir. The Pope refused to grant the divorce so Henry set up the Church of England breaking from Rome along with the Reformation throughout Europe. Apart from religious changes, the idea was to increase the income of the Crown. Much monastic property was subsequently sold off to fund Henry’s military campaigns in France and Scotland. The gentry and merchants, Henry’s sympathisers, who bought the land prospered.  At the time there were nearly 900 religious houses in England with thousands of monks, nuns and friars. The majority of these were given money or pensions.   Some abbots refused to comply and were executed, their monasteries destroyed. The fabric of English society was changed almost overnight.

Back to the walk  – a lot of cottages in the surrounding streets appeared quite ancient, one in particular. Derby House, with mullioned windows and the Stanley ‘eagle and child’ crest, 1633.

The usual suburban, hemmed in paths led to a deserted golf course and out into fields with a misty view across the flat landscape to Winter Hill. A ravine appeared alongside the track and I dropped down to the water below, Dean Brook. All was autumn colours and splashing waters, a joy for the next mile or so. At one point I climbed out of the valley only to drop back down to a muddier path crisscrossing the Brook. A hidden unexpected gem that makes these walks memorable. The Brook discharges into the River Douglas where I have a little detour under the motorway and railway at Gathutst to join the Leeds – Liverpool Canal. The Douglas rises on Winter Hill and goes into the Ribble estuary near Tarleton. Back in 1794, it was made navigable between Wigan and its mouth for small boats mainly carrying coal. It was soon superseded by the Canal opened in 1783 although apparently the remains of several locks can be found on the way to Parbold. The Navigation Inn here has suffered the ignominious name change to The Baby Elephant.

River Douglas.

I’m on the towpath for the rest of the day and once under the motorway and railway into open countryside. I had to think which direction I was going in. Several swing bridges in varying states of repair were passed, the minor ones still giving access to farmers fields. I was welcomed into West Lancashire although I thought I was already there.

Once past Appley Bridge, there were double locks built to speed transit when the traffic was heavy, now only the one is in use. On the map nearby is Prior’s Wood Hall, a C17 listed building with possible associations with the Upholland Priory, I am kicking myself for not diverting to see it.

At the next stone bridge, a cobbled lane goes between cottages to reveal a stone cross marking the site of Douglas Chapel. There was a chapel on this site from C13, rebuilt in 1420 possibly by the Knights Hospitallers as a catholic place of worship. It continued in service until 1875 when its replacement, Christ Church higher in Parbold, was consecrated. Around that time it was demolished and its pulpit and font moved to the new church. I have found some old pictures before demolition, notice the wooden pews.Further along the canal, Parbold was bustling with a cafe and pub alongside an old windmill, built at the time of the canal, truncated and now an interesting art gallery. Shortly afterwards the River Douglas, which has been running parallel goes off under the canal towards the Ribble. I caught up with these two…The countryside here is flat and fertile and there was an almost surreal view across fields with the remains of the recent pumpkin crop. Nearby was the “Lathom Fish” by the talented Thompson Dagnall which provided a good seat for a brew.

Leaving the canal at the Ring O’Bells I had a minute to spare before a bus arrived taking me to Burscough Junction where my mad rush down the forecourt was watched by the guard of the waiting train, he kindly held things up until I’d collapsed aboard. Who says we can have trains without guards?

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY.

I have stumbled across a guide book written by John Convey for this walk through Lancashire. A two-section walk linking medieval monastic sites of Lancashire and South Cumbria, beginning in southwest Lancashire at Upholland, and making its way up to Furness Abbey in what is now Cumbria. The first section finishes at Sawley Abbey. The second starts at Cockerham Priory and continues to Furness Abbey. The author has researched the area well and writes a lively account of the history of the various localities. A third of his guide consists of references and sources to his research and give more than some authenticity to the places visited.  Time will tell if his walking route is worthwhile.

The guide gives good public transport information and I intend to eschew my car for the duration. Out with the bus pass and Senior Railcard. I hopefully will complete the way on an ad hoc daily basis with regard to the winter weather and other commitments. Should be ideal for the short daylight at the end of the year.

Convey has an obvious liking of the variety of landscapes in the ‘old’ Lancashire. As well as the monastic houses from Medieval times he includes many other religious places of note along the way. As he says –

“Every time I see a church

  I pay a little visit

So when at last I’m carried in      

 The Lord won’t say ‘Who is it’?

*****

 

A SOUTHERN INTERLUDE.

Three ‘off the radar’ galleries.

My mate Mel always came up to Lancashire in November for a short walking, drinking and eating break. Alas, he is now on kidney dialysis three times a week so it is simpler for me to make the trip down south to visit him and Pat. Trains from the north were delayed by sheep on the line so I jumped on a train to Crewe and picked up an express train from Liverpool to Euston.

Across the road to the Wellcome.

Across the road from Euston is the Wellcome Collection an oasis of calm away from the busy road. This is a fascinating gallery with ever-changing exhibits related to medicine, health and the human condition. Today there was a gallery exploring our experiences of illness and mortality through the diaries of Jo Spence dying of leukaemia, a rather depressing experience. Alongside was a video installation from artist Oreet Ashley again exploring illness and our reactions to it in the digital age. Soft furnishings to recline in whilst watching the challenging films made me feel uncomfortable.

Moving into another gallery was an exploration of how as humans we affect climate change and its effects on the importance of water. One stunning video showed a quick food outlet slowly being submerged with flood water, the result of our planet pollution, with plastic straws and takeaway dishes floating through the screen. You get the idea.

In the same room was a Shonibare Refugee Astronaut, another comment on climate change and the forced immigration that will follow. ” as witty as they are terrifying”

Moving on the next morning we were in the fantastic Lightbox in Woking admiring a collection of paintings from The Scottish Colourists. 

I must admit I’d never come across their works before. S.J. Peploe (1871 – 1935), J.D. Fergusson (1874 – 1961), G.L. Hunter (1877 – 1931) and F.C.B. Cadell (1883 – 1935). A group of painters influenced by Post-Impressionism but moving into Modernism.

Wonderful landscapes, portraitures and vibrant still life. A splendid exhibition.

Still Life. S J Peploe

Villa Gotte Garden.   J D Fergusson.

Ben More from Iona.  F C B Cadell.

Alongside was a contemporary exhibition from the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, all available to purchase.

My favourite.

Outside in the shopping mall was a Christine Charlesworth bronze of the disabled basketball player Ade Adepitan.

Sunday gave us a break as we visited the parkland in Windsor Great Park and Savill Gardens. We strolled around the lake and polo grounds. There was filming taking place in one area so we never saw the totem pole but nearby amidst stately cedar trees was the Cumberland Obelisk, in honour of the Duke of Cumberland [1721 – 1765] of Culloden fame, son of King George II.

The Guards Polo club has 160 playing members and 1000 social members. They play from April to September on Smiths Lawn [an airfield until 1945], that would be worth a visit. There is a bronze statue representing a polo player about to strike.

Another equine statue on our slow perambulation was in memory of Prince Albert.

We concluded our modest circuit of the lawns, Mel was pleased with his two and a half miles walk so I treated them to an expensive coffee in Savill Garden’s cafe.

Monday morning was set aside for a visit to Watts Gallery and Artists Village at Compton on the North Downs. I first came across this whilst walking the North Downs Way with Mel in 2011, [what a difference a few years make] it was closed for restoration then but somehow we enjoyed a cup of tea from them. This little complex of galleries is based on the home and studio of Victorian artist G F Watts and his ceramicist wife, Mary Watts, highlighting their work and offering workshops and other exhibitions. The North Downs Way which Mel and I had traversed follows in parts a pilgrimage route from Winchester to Canterbury and Mary created a Celtic-style cross was in memory of her husband George. The memorial was made from terracotta dug from the surrounding land and was moulded at the Compton Pottery. The cross bears a variation of a Celtic shield-knot, protection from evil spirits or danger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First port of call was the Watts restored studio up at the Watts house, Limnerslease, where two guides gave us an insight into their methods and ideology. There were numerous artefacts from their time illustrating their artistic skills.

Limnerslease the Watts house with attached studio…

…studio.

Of particular interest was a reproduction of Mary’s method of communal tile manufacture for the Arts and Crafts Chapel down the hill [visited on the North Downs Way]. Alongside this was a vivid installation from a demolished Military Chapel in Cambridge, rescued just in time, which was meant to uplift the spirits of wounded soldiers.

Back in the main gallery, there is an outstanding space devoted to George Frederic Watts [1817 – 1904]  I am not a big fan of flamboyant Victorian artists but this exhibition won me over. First, his portraits of contemporary notables were striking, then there were several studies of beautiful wistful ladies which served as figures for him in his later grand allegorical canvases displayed in the gallery.

A smaller gallery of his sculptures didn’t really show off the massive plaster cast model for his equestrian statue, Physical Energy, for the best. A bronze cast of this is in Kensington Gardens and a newer cast is to be erected at Compton. More accessible was a plaster statue of Lord Tennyson and his dog, cast for a statue in Lincoln Cathedral.

If that wasn’t enough a temporary exhibition downstairs highlighted paintings by John Frederick Lewis [1804 – 1876] who became famous for his Oriental paintings. Some of his colourful depictions of street life in Cairo, where he lived for several years, could be replicated today. I have wandered through some of his markets. Yet another artist that I knew nothing about until this weekend.

We retreated to their excellent cafe for a rest before a bit of retail therapy in the shop where I was seduced by huge price reductions on many books. There is much more to see here and it will be worth another visit next time I’m ‘down south’.

 

 

 

 

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – A KENDAL INTERLUDE.

A Kendal snapshot.

Nick Burton’s book Wainright’s Way is far more than a walking guide as he incorporates so much well researched biographical detail of AW. Already I’ve have covered his early life in Blackburn which included a look at the town where he lived from 1907 – 1941.

Now having reached Kendal, where AW lived from 1941 until his death in 1991, Nick takes a short tour of the town pointing out places AW was associated with and I found much of interest on my stroll around. Kendal Civic Society has placed green information plaques everywhere marking historic buildings, far too many for me to mention here, all I can say is that Kendal is worth a days visit.  It was not a town I was particularly well acquainted with, in the past queuing through the main street on the way to and from the Lakes, now it is thankfully by-passed.  Visits to the climbing wall in an old milk processing mill on the outskirts gave no time for exploring the town and anyhow the traffic is awful and parking difficult.

Today I start above Kendal Green, a lovely open space, at the end of a culdesac where AW had a house built in 1949. He lived here with his first wife, Ruth, and then with his second, Betty until his death. Being elevated he had good views to the Kentmere Fells. What a contrast to Audley Range in Blackburn.

AW would walk down past Kendal Green on his way to work, this is a large open space with mature trees. Halfway down is a plaque commemorating an oak planted in 1864 to celebrate Shakespeare’s 300th birthday. I wasn’t sure that oak was still standing but there is a further plaque for one planted in 1964, 400 years since his death. The link is explained in the first plaque.

At the lower end, you arrive at Windermere Road where AW caught buses to the Lakes on a Sunday. Here also is the corner shop where he stocked up on pipe tobacco.

The long straight road into the town is  Stricklandgate leading to the distinctive Town Hall where AW worked from 1941 to 1967, becoming Borough Treasurer in 1948.

To get here I passed the  Library, Stricklandgate House, and ‘Wainwright’s Yard’ The latter a newly developed shopping arcade made more memorable by the present-day premises of Westmorland Gazette who published most of AW’s books.

The ‘yard’ is one of the dozens off the main street that at one time hosted small industries and shops, most have been altered over the years but all are numbered and can be located with a leaflet from the tourist information. One nearby is named Webster Yard after the architect who designed much of 19th-century Kendals’ prominent housing. Another is C17th Sandes Hospital built with wool money, it now encloses rebuilt almshouses designed by Webster’s firm. Apparently many of the properties AW would have known were demolished in the 1970s.

 

Sandes Hospital

I wandered into the back yard/garden of The Brewery, formerly a Vaux brewery and now an arts centre and Yough Hostel, and was delighted to see the Leyland clock which I’ve discussed in a previous post about the A6 over Shap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further on are some ornate gates that lead to Holy Trinity Church. Built when Kendal was prosperous from the wool trade it is one of the widest churches in the country with five aisles. What an amazing church.

There is the Old Grammar School and Abbot Hall and I’m on the banks of the Kent for a riverside walk. A small park had a plaque referring to K Shoes, once one of Kendal’s largest industries. Howard Somervell of Everest fame, 1920, belonged to the family running K Shoes and naturally wore Kendal-made boots on the mountain. Nearby is a record of historic flood levels.

MIller Bridge, Webster designed, was built in 1818 as part of a complex of warehouses serving the terminal basin of the Lancaster Canal. Aynam Mills were originally for the wool trade but in AW’s time were the premises of a well-known tobacco and snuff manufacturer, Illingworth’s. I became a little lost in the maze of lanes amongst all these warehouses, many being put to good use.

My route took me along an elegant Georgian terrace the home of the all-encompassing Kendal architect George Webster. A little further was another terraced area with an open space where the residents dry their clothes to this day.

I passed another church and then Castle Dairy one of the oldest occupied houses in Kendal. Apparently, the Elizabethan interior is worth viewing as part of a meal in the restaurant now in the building.

 

 

 

 

Round the corner is the town’s Museum where AW was heavily involved for the time he was in Kendal. It was closed today so I was not able to view a collection of Wainwright memorabilia.

Over the busy Victoria Bridge with associated sympathetic warehouse accommodations alongside the Kent. Ahead back on Stricklandgate was the third of Kendal’s parish churches. On the next corner are the premises of Titus Wilson, printers since 1860, AW’s first publisher.

It was now a short walk back up the side of Kendal Green.

Kendal is certainly worthy of further exploration.  I can appreciate it would be a good place to live and did I mention Kendal Mintcake?

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 7. HAWES BRIDGE TO MITCHELLAND, B5284.

Westmorland Country.

Sir Hugh and I are progressing on our Wainwright Way journey, over halfway now. We’ve been able to do at least one trip a week between other commitments and weather windows. Today we pass through Kendal, AW’s hometown from 1941 to his death in 1991, featured prominently in his Westmorland Heritage book, 1974. Then we climb Scout Scar one of AW’s The Outlying Fells, 1974, “ a pictorial guide to lesser fells .. of Lakeland written primarily for old age pensioners…”  We were hoping for good views from this fell into Lakeland and in particular the Kentmere fells leading to High Street our objective in a couple of day’s time.

The day starts well with a gentle stroll along the River Kent into Kendal, we chose a riverside option over the suggested canal route which we have both very familiar with. Perfect, sunny and clear, boding well for the day ahead. The filled-in Lancaster Canal was joined on the edge of town as it headed for defunct wharves and warehouses at the heart of a previously industrial Kendal, the coming of the canal improved the supply of coal from Lancashire to those industries. However today we were diverted up past an enormous cemetery to visit what remains of Kendal Castle on its elevated hill. AW, when he first moved here lived in a council house just to the north-west of here.

Castle Grove AW’s first house in Kendal.

Many of Kendal’s dog walkers were up here this morning enjoying the weather and views, Scout Scar was prominent to the west whilst looking north to the Lakes there were some ominous clouds on the summits. The castle has guarded over Kendal since the C12th and has apparently strong links with Katherine Parr, the 6th wife of Henry VIII.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Heading down we walked through neat Victorian terraces, crossed the River Kent on a footbridge and joined the crowds on Kendals high street. The town hall where AW was Borough Treasurer stands proud at the top of the street.  When I explored Kendal recently I was unable to find Collin Croft one of the sites sketched by  AW in his Westmorland Heritage, I tried a little harder today and we found our way into a hidden maze of alleys typical of the town.

We then walked up leafy streets heading out of town. A sign above a gateway alluded to links with a previous Presbyterian Chapel. An obelisk appeared without any information. Over the Kendal bypass, interesting milepost,  we entered fields that are marked as an old racecourse and also the start of the Lake District National Park. The sky was clouding over despite the optimistic forecast. Scout Scar, or more correctly Underbarrow Scar, is a limestone escarpment popular with the people of Kendal and today walkers and joggers appeared from all directions.  We arrived onto the ridge near a large cairn with the trig point to the north. It was then that the heavy rain hit us, views disappeared and we walked on grimly towards the ‘mushroom’  shelter. Any semi-shelter was already taken and it was too cold to hang about so we just carried on to the end of the fell, a slight anticlimax to what should have been a memorable situation. The shelter was erected in 1912 in recognition of George V’s coronation. It has a 360-degree indicator which I had been interested in viewing but all that was lost in our haste to get off the fell.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Calmer sunnier conditions returned as we walked off nearby Cunswick Scar on Gamblesmire Lane, a bridleway we followed down into a different landscape. Undulating green fields, stone walls, sheep, whitewashed squat farms all make up the Cumbrian landscape, of course in AW’s time it was Westmorland. Gamblesmire Lane, almost Quagmire Lane in parts continued through this landscape. In sections it was a unique, hedge defined rollercoaster.

We eventually found somewhere to sit and eat and then it was field after field heading towards an isolated tower. A farmer was sorting out his sheep for market and seemed keen to chat, he must lead an isolated life up here. Eventually, we reached the restored bell tower of the C17th St. Catherine’s Church, the rest of the church was demolished and a new one built a short distance away, seen in the picture below.

A Wainwright. 1975.

 

More idyllic fields were traversed and we were soon back at the car and a drive home in lovely low sun.

*****

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 2. WHALLEY TO LONGRIDGE FELL.

The Ribble at Dinckley.

A Ribble Valley walk of history, graveyards and conversations along the way.

As I wait for a bus to take me to Whalley a lady of a certain age enquires as to my journey, I’m in boots with a rucksack and attached walking poles.  When I tell her of crossing the Ribble at Dinckley Bridge she recollects a time when a ferryman would take you over for a penny. It was like that in AW’s early years when he explored the Ribble Valley north of his home in Blackburn.

My bus deposits me in the middle of busy Whalley at 12.30, I’m a late starter these days. Wainwright’s Way takes me past the ancient parish church, I make a mental note to revisit between 2 and 5 when it is open. I do however make the effort to seek out some of the Saxon crosses in the churchyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walk past the Abbey grounds which I visited last weekend.   The lane out of town actually goes through the oldest West Gate.  It has an impressive ceiling but is somewhat diminished by the road passing through it. Almost immediately you pass through another arch, that of the railway viaduct, the longest and largest in Lancashire. 48 arches of immaculate brickwork. A functional ‘Old Sol’s Bridge’ crosses the Calder River, built in 1993 to replace the 1909 one of Solomon Longworth, a local mill owner. Backstreets of Billington, old and new, take me out through horsey country to cross the A59 and into a more rural scene. I wander across fields which have the clearest signing and stiles  I’ve come across, an example for other farmers to follow.  Although I’m aiming for Longridge Fell in the distance the view of Pendle behind me is everpresent.

I recognise Old Langho Church, built using stones from Whalley Abbey after the dissolution. I take a picture to compare with AW’s Ribble Sketchbook.

A Wainwright. 1980.

I then make the effort to seek out, in a far graveyard, the memorial to 600 who died in the nearby Brockhall Hospital. The tablet is inscribed …

‘In an isolated institution located to the northeast of this stone there lived from 1904 to 1992 a large number of people who were thought to be too strange, too difficult or too challenging to be cared for in their own communities. The institution, in turn, was called Lancashire Inebriates Reformatory (1904) Brockhall Hospital for Mental Defectives (1915) Brockhall Hospital for the Mentally Subnormal (1959) Brockhall Hospital for Mentally Handicapped People (1974) and Brockhall Hospital for People with Learning Disabilities (1991). Although those who lived there carried heavier burdens than most they were part of our common family.

‘Brockhall Hospital closed its doors in 1992 and the land on which it stood was acquired by Gerald Shimon Hitman of Newcastle upon Tyne who raised this stone as a memorial to those who ended their days in the hospital and are buried here. God full of compassion grant perfect rest beneath the shelter of your presence to these your children who have gone to their eternal home. Master of mercy, cover them in the shelter of your wings forever and bind their souls into the gathering of life. It is the Lord who is their heritage. May they be at peace in their place of rest.’

Poignantly, Gerald Hitman, mentioned on the memorial is buried nearby.

I pop into the old Bull Inn for a pint but am dismayed at the internal  ‘improvements’ that have totally destroyed the place. What a shame, another pub ruined, I shan’t be returning.

The footpath now goes alongside a development of ‘luxury lodges’ extending into the open countryside. A lady occupant says that they are holiday lets but that quite a few are permanent homes. How to get around our flimsy planning regulations. Another field ruined.

A steep drop leads to a hidden footbridge over a lively Dinkley Brook. I’ve never been here before. Soon a lane is reached, the line of a Roman Road from Ribchester to Ilkley. At a farm along here, I watch as a golfer practises his drives across the fields, he has spent his life as a dairy farmer and only now has time for leisure pastimes. He too remembers, as a child, the ferry at Dinkley and much more.

At last, I’m on the lane dropping down to the Ribble, Longridge Fell is ahead.  Two local ladies on their daily walk are also keen to chat refreshingly about the area until they realise they have to rush for the school pickup.

Dinkley Hall is too far away to observe behind ‘new’ barn conversions but the new shiny bridge is glimpsed below replacing the suspension bridge damaged by floods. The river scenery here is stunning and timeless. [heading photo]

A Wainwright. 1980.

Over the bridge The Ribble Way is joined – an ill-fated long-distance path but with perhaps the best-designed logo The lane up to Hurst Green goes on forever but there is an inn at the top if required. From up here, there is a view back to Whalley NabI had a snack sat on a bench next to a war memorial cross which unusually refers to The Boer War. It is inscribed – This cross commemorates the services of Frederick Sleigh first Earl Roberts K.G.V.C.and his companions in arms the soldiers and sailors of the Empire who fought in the South Africa Campaign 1899-1902.

Opposite on a small roundabout is the WW1/WW2 memorial. Higher in the village are the Shireburn Almshouses, sketched by AW, but when he was wandering this area as a youngster were still up on Longridge Fell. Erected in 1706 but removed and rebuilt in 1946 in the village providing accommodation for Stoneyhrst employees. I’ve never discovered why they were high on the fell in the first place.

A Wainwright. 1980.

Stoneyhurst College is intricately associated with the village and much has been written about it.  Up the road, circumventing the graveyard, The Our Lady Statue looking down the avenue to the College has been restored and is shining bright, I think I prefered it as before. It is not marble but steel painted white. That famous view is also timeless, that’s not me yomping up the road.

My accent of Longridge Fell continued by picking up an old bridleway, a favourite of mine, alongside lively Dean Brook with its old bobbin mills and then past buttressed Greengore, an ancient hunting lodge. The day was passing and the forecast predicted rain by 5pm.  There has been a lot of change up here with storm and fungus damage to the trees so I used local knowledge to find my own familiar tracks to the summit. The Bowland Hills across the Vale of Chipping were darkening and rain was spreading across the Fylde towards me. I reached my previously stashed cycle and hurtled down to Longridge just in time. I shall regain Wainwright’s Way at the summit trig point when time and weather allow.  Bring on Bowland.

*****

 

 

 

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 1. BLACKBURN TO WHALLEY.

Escaping the city.

My train was full of lively pre-match Blackburn supporters. Most didn’t have tickets and exited the station somehow, I was glad I wouldn’t be on their train after the match. AW was a lifelong Rovers supporter.

Outside the station, as I gathered my bearings I was struck by the number of expensive-looking cars, with modified exhausts and booming stereos, cruising around aimlessly at high speeds. I refrain from comment.

I began the long walk up Audley Range. Mills at the lower end near the canal have gone and been replaced by budget shopping units. From the canal upwards AW would have had almost a mile of two-up, two-down terraced housing. There has been demolition in parts giving little cul-de-sac estates. a mosque and many Asian shops but the higher you get the more you are attuned into AW’s time when he trudged up and down from the centre to number 331, his birthplace and where he lived until 1931 when he married. Until 1935 a tram ran halfway up before going to Queen’s Park.

I couldn’t resist calling in at one of the little Asian ‘Sweet Shops’ to buy a couple of samosas for my lunch.

Fittingly there is a plaque on 331 to commemorate Wainwright though I wonder whether any of the Asian population hereabouts will realise the significance. Opposite his house is an open space formerly a brickworks producing the millions of bricks for the housing and mills.

I reached busy roads on the edge of town. Up here AW attended primary schools, now demolished under ring roads and Tescos. I was glad to turn down to the Leeds – Liverpool Canal at Gorse Bridge. The canal would have been lined by warehouses and mills and here is one of the last, the derelict Imperial Mill once employing 300 until closing eventually in 1958. Many of the mills diversified into minor industries after cotton had crashed.

The canalside walk took me past the Whitebirk Estate, shops and car salerooms, and under the maize of roads connecting with the motorway system. One always sees things differently from a canal and then the next time I drive around these roads I’ll reminisce to myself and try and spot the canal. I ate my samosas as I walked the towpath and realised they had quite a kick to them.

Before long I was in a more rural landscape and leaving the canal to climb steeply up onto the ridge of Harwood Moor. An old bridge is crossed, this is the line of the former Blackburn to Padiham railway. The industrial landscape is left behind and suddenly you have a view of Longridge Fell, the Bowland Hills, Yorkshire peaks and Pendle. It was these northern edges of Blackburn that AW  explored as a youngster and subsequently with work colleagues. A certain Harry Green wrote a regular walking column in the newspaper and produced some guidebooks to the area and into the Ribble Valley and Longridge Fell.  One of AW’s walking companions, Lawrence Wolstenholme, kept a diary of Harry Green inspired walks and his descendants still have a copy of Rambles by Highway, Lane and Field Path. H Green 1920. So it is certain that they walked these trails out of Blackburn.

I entered a farmyard patrolled by a bull and hesitated before rushing to the other side and safety. All the fields up here seemed to contain frisky bullocks so I did a little creative road walking to get me on my way. I was soon on a higher ridge with even more extensive views.

Looking back to Blackburn.

Longridge Fell and the distant Bowland Fells.

Down a reedy path to the Dean Clough Reservoirs with Pendle in the background and then I make my own way up above them to come out onto Moor Lane above Langho, it was only last week that I visited The  Lord Nelson Inn here for lunch. Its a very basic but friendly pub with good beer and a limited home-cooked menu,  a couple came in and asked about dining “have you a gluten-free option?”   “No!” was the simple answer.

I didn’t have time today to call in for a pint but marched off along the virtually traffic-free Moor Lane. At one point I glimpsed a deer eyeing me through the trees. Whalley Nab is at the end of the lane directly above Whalley and the River Calder. The River Calder flows through Whalley to join the Ribble, leaving behind its industrial hinterland where in the distance can be seen the Martholme Viaduct which carried the aforementioned Blackburn to Padiham railway. I had a birds-eye view of the Ribble Valley and Whalley, making out the street plan and the more famous railway viaduct over the Clitheroe – Blackburn line I travelled this morning. The Ribble Valley was one of AW’s many sketchbooks done in later life, Nick Burton has illustrated his text with some of these sketches.  It will be interesting to compare AW’s views with my own as I proceed.

A Wainwright 1980

Before I knew it I was crossing the Calder into the busy main street. The impressive 13thC church was closed. Whilst waiting for my bus I had a very short time to look round the Abbey ruins, free entry today – Heritage Week or something. They deserve more so I’ll return for a longer visit.

I’ve finished the first stage of Wainwright’s Way and I’m looking forward to the rural walking to come.

*****