Tag Archives: Canals

CONNECT FOUR ON THE CANAL.

 

Saturday,  April 24th.      7miles.      Ellel.

I am just beginning to connect up with friends I’ve not seen for months. D and P had arranged a walk with Mike, and they invited me along. I mentioned I’d not visited Ellel Grange estate, close to where I was walking with Sir Hugh last week. I drove round and round looking for our rendezvous spot at Thurnham Church, is it coincidence that Denise’s walks often start at an RC Church?

The church of St Thomas and Elizabeth was consecrated in 1848 and had links with the Dalton family in nearby Thurnham Hall. In the grounds is a mausoleum for the Gillow family, well known local furniture makers, it has elaborate Egyptian columns on one side only. In front of the church is an eroded C19 cross recovered from nearby Cockerham Abbey.

We moved on. The day promised more sunny and warm weather. Along a farm track D and P commented on a new house that wasn’t here a couple of years ago when they last passed.

Fields, thankfully now dry, were crossed towards the Ellel Estate. We detoured up a hill for a view of the Italianate hall with its towers and extensive gardens. It was built in the 1850s for an ex-mayor of Liverpool and has been recently used as a religious retreat, but see below.

Our next objective was a view of Kings Lee Chapel  a Victorian gothic church designed by Joseph Hansom who also designed the impressive St. Walburge in Preston and the Hansom Cab. The church is closed and has been subject to vandalism. If I had been alone I would have been tempted to approach closer up the drive.

Apparently the whole site is for sale with plans for yet another holiday complex. Some estate buildings are already used as holiday lets.    https://www.lancastervision.com/holiday-village-100-bed-hotel-and-vr-experience-plan-for-lancaster-revealed/

We left the estate over their balustraded canal bridge and had a pleasant stroll along the Lancaster Canal.

At the junction with the Glasson canal we took a break outside the lockkeeper’s cottage on a suitable bench. D unexpectedly produced four sandwich buns out of a hat for us.

Onwards though Galgate we eventually left the canal by a path across a field of probably 100 cows. A hill gave us views of the bay and distant Lakeland hills. We took to the road around Condor Green where the old Stork pub is needing renovation.

The little café on the old railway line was doing good business with cyclists and walkers using the route between Glasson and Lancaster. Using the railway track bridge we crossed the creeks looking forlorn at low tide.

From the number of people we had passed we expected Glasson to be very busy, so we cut through to the canal by  Christchurch. There was a little fête on, and I came away with some thick cut marmalade which has turned out to be delicious. We were now on the Glasson branch canal which links to the Lancaster canal by a series of locks. This section seemed to be popular with nesting swans.

I did a series of walks up the Lancaster Canal with D and P back in early 2018 where there is lots more information. https://bowlandclimber.com/2018/01/09/the-lancaster-canal/

We left the canal and climbed fields back to Thurnham Church from where a cavalcade of cars made their way to a nearby garden for more socially distanced but connected refreshments.

*****

 

AN AFTERNOON AROUND BARNACRE.

Monday 26th Oct.  5.5miles.  Barnacre.

I was kicking myself by lunchtime today. The forecast was for rain but there was hardly any and now the sun was shining. Could easily have had a meet up with friends for a day’s walk. My new boots haven’t arrived yet, tomorrow?, so walking in trainers I need to stay on dry ground which is difficult around here at the moment. A cursory look at the map and I had inspiration for a quick afternoon’s outing on lanes around Barnacre, a rural area to the south and east of Garstang.

In less than half an hour’s drive I’m parked by another deserted looking pub, the Kenlis Arms.  originally  an 1856 hunting lodge,

The walk itself is on quiet lanes on the edge of the Bowland Hills passing a few farms and lots of sheep.

White sheep of the family.

My first real  objective is the Church of All Saints, yet another designed by Austin and Paley of Lancaster, 1905. Set in a peaceful woodland area its red roof stands out across the fields and its tower is castle-like. A lane takes me down to cross the motorway and main railway line.

Forge Lane passes the old forge where the family are splitting logs with a hired machine, looks great fun.

The lane continues down to a ford on the swollen Wyre but fortunately there is a nearby footbridge. This whole low-lying area is part of the local flood defences when water can be diverted into the fields to reduce the flow downstream. I walk through the Millennium Green past the hydraulic weirs for controlling the flow of the Wyre. It must be quite a sight to see the floodplain filling up. I’ve been this way before on The Wyre Way.

Millennium Green with a misty Nicky Nook in the background.

A diversion into Garstang’s High Street highlights several interesting buildings.

The old grammar school, C18th.

The old Town Hall. 1760.

I walk over the twin arched bridge on the Wyre and a little later drop down to the Lancaster Canal for about a mile of quiet towpath back to my car.

Garstang Castle.

A walk snatched from nothing and dry feet at the end of it.

*****

 

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WALK. 13. Ulverston and Conishead Priory.

                                                            Chapel Island Leven Estuary.

I avoided crossing the Leven Estuary sands by taking the train from Cartmel to Ulverston.  In the estuary is Chapel Island. In the 14th century, Augustinian monks from  Conishead Priory built a small chapel on the island to serve the needs of travellers using the ancient crossing from Cartmel to Conishead.

But first a little tour of Ulverston.

The station was designed by the renowned Lancaster architects Paley and Austin for the Furness Railway in 1873. This railway was independently operated between 1846 and 1923, originally conceived as a mineral line supplying iron ore to Barrow but soon passengers were using the service from Carnforth to Barrow and beyond. Prior to this, the only road to the area crossed those treacherous Morecambe Bay tidal sands. The station itself is red sandstone with some ornate metal and glass awnings. Inside the waiting room are two original cast iron seats with the squirrel motif from the Furness Railway. The crest of the railway was based on Furness Abbey’s seal. Interestingly throughout Ulverston are placed 50 seats, all numbered, based on the same design donated by Glaxo to commemorate 50 years production in the town.

The most celebrated statue in town is of homeboy Stan Laurel with Oliver Hardy and a dog. It was unveiled by Ken Dodd in 2009.      Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into !” Ulverston’s maze of streets has many fine Georgian and Victorian listed buildings. The market area seems to have lots of small independent shops which attract tourists and locals alike, not to mention all the old inns.

Close to the centre is the run down Hartley’s Brewery closed in 1991 after 236 years brewing, bought by Robinsons and production transferred to Cheshire. Nearby is Oddfellows Hall in an old church with a link to Furness Abbey. Looking up as you walk through the streets there is the sight of a 100ft  monument on Hoad Hill. Built in the style of a lighthouse in 1850 to commemorate Sir John Barrow, born in Ulverston and a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society.Walking down the elegant curving Sunderland Terrace brought me to the basin of the Ulverston Canal. This straight mile and a half canal was opened in 1796 to transport iron ore, shipbuilding was also an important trade based on the canal. The stroll down the canal was a popular walk this morning with the locals. Along the way are large metal sculpture relating the history and several of those numbered blue seats.

Glaxo seat number one.

Halfway down was the rusting rolling bridge, a complicated structure that carried a rail line into the ironworks but could be rolled aside to allow ships to pass. It was on the site of the ironworks, closed in 1938, that Glaxo started producing antibiotics in 1948 and whose large factory dominates this end of Ulverston.

At Canal Foot are the sea locks and access across to the Bay Horse, an old coaching inn from when the route was across the sands. A bridleway sign pointing to the sands and sea states “This route has natural hazards” an understatement. There are views across the sands to Cartmel with the Leven Rail Viaduct. Down the estuary is Chapel Island mentioned above.

A detour around the Glaxo works and on past the slag heaps from the ironworks and I was on a pebble beach opposite Chapel Island. Permissive paths ran from the beach into woods, the grounds of Conishead Priory. Conishead was originally founded by the  Augustinians in the C12th as a hospital for the poor and was a priory until Dissolution, nothing is left of it now. The present Gothic building dates from 1821 built for a Lancashire family, the Braddylls. The house passed through several hands before in the thirties being used as a Durham Miners convalescent home. It was sold on and fell into disrepair before being purchased in 1975 by a Buddhist community who have slowly carried out restoration. There is a lively cafe and a shop on the ground floor.

In the grounds of the house, the Buddhists have built a modern ‘Peace Temple’. Prayers were in progress so I didn’t go inside. My curiosity satisfied I walked back along the road into Ulverston with the  Hoad monument as a constant beacon ahead of me.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 10. Lancaster to Carnforth.

                                                                 Morecambe Bay.

Another day snatched from Winter.

In his guide, John Covey follows the Lancaster Canal from Lancaster to Carnforth. That is a route I’ve walked often in the past so I decide after exploring Lancaster to follow the Lancashire Coastal Way instead.

Covey details a Lancaster Friary,  a Dominican community of preachers. [1260 until dissolution] There is no trace of any building now.

He also mentions St. Leonards Hospital established in the C12 as a leper hospital later having a church and chaplain for the poor. It closed in 1470 and all trace has gone.

Gardiner’s Hospital was established as an almshouse in St. Mary’s Gate near the castle around 1485. These almshouses were rebuilt in 1792 eventually to be sold in 1938 and the site built upon. To replace them four almshouses were built in Queen Street. At last, I had something to seek out and find. On the way, I happened upon the Friends Meeting House, a Quaker building from 1708. That set me musing in this election week. would the Quakers be the ‘Greens’ of religion? what of the rest?  RC’s – Tories, CofE – Labour, Methodists – Lib Dem. We will know our fate tomorrow.

Also in central Lancaster, I already knew of the Penny Almshouses. William Penny, several times mayor, gave funds in 1715 to build 12 small houses and a chapel for ‘poor indigent ancient men and women’. They received a house, an allowance, a suit of clothes and the services of a chaplain. The plaque over the entrance records Penny’s generosity and warns in Latin ‘profanos hinc abesse’ – those of ill-repute should keep away.  Next door Assembly Rooms were built in 1759, income from events helped provide for the almshouses.

On my way up past the castle, I noticed another property – ‘served as a dispensary providing health care for the poor 1785 -1833’  Lancaster has been very charitable in the past.

My object of climbing up here was to visit Lancaster Priory Church. A Benedictine priory was founded around 1094 on the elevated site, about the same time as the castle was being established on an old Roman Fort. The remains of the priory are under the Church which was built in the C15. Becoming a parish church it avoided destruction in the Dissolution. Inside are the celebrated carved choir stalls with their misericords from 1340, two sets of impressive organ pipes along with some beautiful stained glass.  From up on the hill, the site of the Roman Fort, a path led down and passed close to the Roman Baths.

All I had to do now was walk a dozen miles to Carnforth.

The Millenium Bridge was right in front of me and I crossed the Lune to pick up a cycle path all the way to Morecambe. The views across to St Georges Quay had the Priory high above and a crooked house squashed in below. There was not much to see on this straight route so I made good progress and was suddenly in front of the Midland Hotel, no I didn’t go in for coffee. I saved that till a little later at the Lighthouse Cafe, a community cafe with a comprehensive menu. Whilst I ate toasted teacake [homage to my good friend Tony] I gazed out at Eric Morecambe bringing me some sunshine on the prom. Unfortunately, when I emerged from the cafe the rain came down and had me scurrying for my waterproofs which once donned, of course, the rain stopped for the day.

The promenade went on forever with a few installations to distract one. Suddenly I was free of roads and walking on the shoreline. Stoney and muddy in equal proportions. The tide was out but following all the recent rainfall the marshes were very boggy.  Views across Morecambe Bay were obviously extensive but the background hills came and went. Ahead was the prominent but diminutive Arnside Knott.

At Red Bank Farm, busy with visitors to the cafe, I came across The Praying Shell statue carved in limestone above the sands where 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in 2004.   Artist Anthony Padgett has said a link may be made to that tragedy but the idea was conceived before.          “It’s symbolism is intended to parallel humanity’s openness to a larger dimension and the way cockle shells open as the tide comes in,” Another couple of miles of marshland with lots of channel hopping where there was no distinct path, probably underwater at high tide. I climbed to higher ground in one or two places, I must admit to being uneasy on tidal areas. The Keer Channel was a muddy mess. I finally hit solid ground on the little road running alongside the Keer and realised I’d been here before with Sir Hugh on our Way Of The Crow Walk between Longridge and Arnside, that was a very wet day 2 years ago.

I had a brief encounter with Carnforth Station before catching my train.

*****

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 9. Cockerham to Lancaster.

                                                         Lancashire Coastal Way.

It is strange weather – one day of wind and rain, the next bright sunshine and then more rain. I take my chances on a sunny day. I’ve moved on to the northern part of Lancashire’s Monastic Way by John Convey, will think about a link-up from Sawley at a later date. It is a clear morning with a chilly wind coming off the sea as I walk down the lane to  St. Michaels Church, an Anglican Parish Church in Cockerham. Of course, it is closed when I arrive. The oldest part is the C16 tower. The body of the church was rebuilt by the Lancaster architects Austin and Paley.  who were responsible for much church architecture from the mid 19th century. Cockerham Priory from the C13 was situated hereabouts but there are no remains from when it was dissolved in 1477.

Soon I was on The Lancashire Coastal Way following flood defences surrounded by low tide marshes around the coast to visit Cockersand Abbey. The obvious remains are the C13 Octagonal Chapter House with a few other bits of walls from the Abbey Church. There had been a hospital on the site which was dissolved in 1539. The land was subsequently acquired by the Daltons from Thurnham Hall and the Chapter House used as a mausoleum hence its preservation today. It is a bleak spot for an Abbey.

Out in the Lune estuary is the Plover Scar Lighthouse, also known as the Abbey Lighthouse, an active 19th-century lighthouse now fully automated. The last time I was along here the lighthouse was being repaired following a collision with a commercial vessel. Nearby on the coast is the original lighthouse keepers cottage. The lighthouse can be reached at low tide and in the past, the keeper would have to attend to the paraffin lamps.

After Crook Farm, I followed what had been Marsh Lane which disappeared under flood water at one point. Wet socks resulted.

But soon I was seated outside the friendly Glasson Cafe enjoying a coffee and pasty.

The marina was quiet at this time of year, I joined the Glasson Branch canal, which when it was completed in 1825  joined the Lancaster Canal near Galgate. Then along in 1883 came the railway to link to Lancaster, it was on this disused line I would continue the walk. But first I had a look at Christ Church alongside the canal. This Anglican Parish Church was designed by Edmund Sharpe who became involved with the Lancaster firm of Austin and Paley mentioned above. Originally built in 1840 but added to in the C20. I walked in to find that the west gallery has been converted into an accessible coffee/reading room. The stained glass in the east window was impressive, designed by Joseph Fisher [1979] of the Lancaster firm  Shrigley and Hunt

Returning to the Railway track I crossed the River Condor and headed north, easy walking with views across the Lune estuary. To my right were the grounds of Ashton Hall now a golf course. I could not see the hall which was established in the C14, a tower apparently is from that date. The hall has had many owners but in 1884 was sold to the wealthy lino manufacturer, James Williamson whom when he was knighted took the title Lord Ashton. With reference to today, he arranged to have a halt built on the railway line I’m walking on. After his second wife’s death, he had the Ashton Memorial built in Williamson park, an elevated site seen from afar and later today.

River Condor.

Ashton Hall Golf Course.

Along the line, the hedges were loaded with red berries, no wonder lots of birds were about, Redwings and Fieldfares. A solar farm has been built near Stodday, they must have more sunshine here than the rest of Lancashire. The climb away from the line up to Aldcliffe was steeper than expected. I was now heading directly into Lancaster along the Lancaster Canal a route I’ve used before.

Today I had time to leave the canal to have a look at the nearby Lancaster Cathedral.  When in 1791, the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed local Catholics built a mission in Dalton Square. When a larger church was needed local architect Paley designed this church for the present site, consecrated in 1859 it became a cathedral in 1924. The tower and spire are 240ft high making it visible throughout the city. The interior was impressive but with too many fussy side chapels. Some of the stained glass was by Shrigley and Hunt, mentioned at Glasson. Unfortunately, I found a lot of the information preachy, I can appreciate the stunning architecture without being religious.Time to catch my bus.

                    Lancaster with the Ashton Memorial, Cathedral and Town Hall.

 

*****

 

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 4. Longton to Preston.

The Ribble Way.

I’m late setting off today and my bus gets me into Longton just before 12am but I only have to walk back to Preston on The Ribble Way. As I arrive on the route, having walked down Marsh Lane, another walker appears and asks as to the whereabouts of the RW. I know where he went wrong as the signage was very poor. We walk down the lane to join the riverside way, it turns out he is in training for a long Camino route next year. To be honest there is not a lot of interest on this flat featureless stretch so we fall into step and conversation. Having cycled the Camino from Le Puy-en-Velay in France to Santiago de Compostela I took great interest in his plans and pledged to support his chosen charity. Today he was planning to pick up the Guild Wheel at the docks but hadn’t realised there was no bridge across the Ribble until Penwortham – thus giving him some extra training. Along the way I pointed out on the far bank the dug out Ribble Link enabling a link-up from the Lancaster Canal to Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the rest of the system. I’m not sure how often it is used as you need a pilot boat to take you down the Ribble to enter the Douglas. The entrance to Preston Docks was passed without a bridge. The tide was out and the river did not look its best.

The Ribble Link.

Preston docks entrance.

Past Penwortham Golf Club we entered a parklike space which was the former Penwortham Power Plant, demolished in the 80s. I realised I needed to leave the river to seek out the monastic sites above, Penwortham Priory, so we went our separate ways and I wished him the best with his efforts. I climbed out into Castle Walk, there was a Norman ‘motte and bailey castle’ hereabouts until 1232. The castle was built to control a ford across this important waterway. I marched around Castle Walk until directly below the present church but the developers had defended it well there was no way through. Backtracking I encountered several ‘Priory’ road names all related to a Benedictine priory and subsequent mansion situated here until demolition in 1920. All is now new housing. [one of my climbing friends lived in Priory Crescent until recently, he has made a good choice by moving to France.]

No way through.

Round the corner was St. Marys Church which I approached down an avenue of trees. Nearby was the base of a stone cross for which I can find no information. The prominent Lych Gate was surprisingly locked, not a very welcome sight, nonetheless, I worked my way around into the extensive graveyard. Somewhere is the tomb of John Horrocks the noted C18 Preston cotton manufacturer.  The church itself dates from the C15. To the north of the church is the mound the Castle was probably built on.

The river was just below but the defences, present-day wire fences, were impregnable until I found a chink in the armour and escaped onto the river embankment thus saving a long walk out on the busy road. Now back on the Ribble  Way, I was aiming to cross the river on the ‘old Penwortham bridge’, there are new and newer bridges downstream. A cobbled way took me over to the north bank.  Alongside the old bridge are the remains of a dismantled railway bridge, this was the former West Lancashire Railway from Southport leading to its terminus at the bottom of Fishergate Hill. Nearby one of the cottages is named Ferry House suggesting the presence of a ferry before the bridges were constructed. Ahead was the present mainline rail bridge and seen beyond it the redundant East Lancashire Railway bridge previously bringing trains from Blackburn into platforms alongside  Butler Street goods yard which is now The Fishergate Shopping Centre. So that is three rail bridges entering Preston from the south.

The two C19 parks, Miller and Avenham, provide a wonderful recreational facility on the edge of central Preston and have been smartened up in recent years. I managed to get lost in road works in East Cliff and reappeared in the rail depot alongside the station. I’d only been walking for 3 hours

Miller Park.                                                                                                 

Within Preston Convey mentions three other religious sites which are not visited saving me some leg work.

Preston Friary, in what is now Marsh Lane,  established in 1260. Friars were different from monastic orders in that they spent their time in the local community preaching and doing missionary work.

Tulketh Priory, a Cistercian abbey established in 1124 but moved to Furness soon after. Tulketh Hall was built on the site and demolished in 1960 for housing.

St. Mary Magdalen’s hospital for lepers,1177, run by monks. Its chapel became a site of pilgrimage until the Dissolution. St. Walburge’s church was built on the site. this church is famous for its 309ft steeple seen from all the surrounding areas. The notorious Fred Dibnah’s last job was working on this steeple back in 2004.

A distant view of St. Walburge’s steeple.

*****

 

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 2. Burscough to Rufford.

                                                                            Glorious Lancashire.

My day starts rattling along on the NothernRail train to Burscough. The morning mist is lifting off the fields and blue skies promise a good day. I’m starting a loop around this unfamiliar area hoping to spot more religious sites than on my first outing on this Lancashire Monastic Way. One of the first streets I turn down in suburban Burscough is Chapel Lane  – a good start. And yes there at its end is Catholic Church of St.John the Evangelist, C19. Next to it is the rebuilt Burscough Hall Farmhouse which dates from the early C16/17 and where services took place before the church was built.

The hoar frost defines the path across marshy ground whilst giant diggers joist on a nearby landfill site, all very romantic.

I’m aiming for the remains of Burscough Priory, in a private garden but visible in the winter months – just.

The priory was established in the late C12. and followed the Augustine order, named after St. Augustine of Hippo an early Roman African theologian. Apart from being a religious institution, the priory looked after the needy and the traveller until dissolution. All that remains are two massive Gothic pillars from the central church tower.

Next door is a large residential caravan site where this unusual car was seen, ?a self-built cross between a Nissan and a 2CV.  From the sublime to the ridiculous.

On the corner of the lane is Cross House and there is the base to an ancient cross suggesting a pilgrim route.

Along the lanes that I followed through the Lathom estate were these two cottages – the cruck framed farmhouse…

and a Keepers Cottage, 1868 in the Jacobean Style…

More of the Lathom Estate followed across the road at a gateway to the estate where there are two octagonal gatehouses, one occupied and the other up for sale.

The gates themselves have very ornate stonework…

My main object was the Lathom Park Chapel, established in 1500 by Lord Stanley, 2nd Earl of Derby, from benefits received after the Battle of Bosworth. It escaped suppression at the Dissolution of the monasteries. Attached are some delightful almshouses.

Nearby in fields below the remaining west wing of Lathom Hall was a nostalgic remembrance statue. Let us not forget…

This has a particular significance as the Lathom Estate played a key role in the British war effort during the First World War as a Remount Depot. Lathom offered his land so that horses and mules could be prepared for their duties at the front line. Horses came to West Lancashire from all over the world. After unloading they were ‘drove on the hoof’ through the country lanes to Lathom. The park was divided into ‘squadrons’ of 500 horses, each with its own superintendents, foremen and 150 grooms. The War Office statistics indicate that between September 1914 and November 1917, 215,000 horses and mules passed through Lathom Park. There was a recent stone memorial dedicated to these forces.

I found a way out of the estate on an unmarked path…

… to yet another war memorial to Lathom residents…

I was not looking forward to the walk alongside the busy B5240 but it soon passed and there were a few interesting properties of unknown origin.

I was then back on the Leeds Liverpool canal with a long-distance view of Ainsworth Mill, a mid-C19 steam-powered corn mill handily located next to the canal.

I was soon at the junction with the Rufford branch, my way ahead, which leads to the River Ribble and the Ribble Link to the Lancaster Canal.

After the top lock, I came face to face with a blocked towpath, they were replacing the railway bridge over the canal ahead. A massive crane was being used to lift sections of the bridge and there was obviously no way I could sneak through. However, a little lateral thinking and a few fences climbed had me back on my way.

The flat fields hereabouts are perfect for growing turf and I watched a clever machine ‘harvesting’.

Fast walking followed along the towpath towards Rufford. I was surprised to see in the far distance the Bowland Fells, Longridge Fell and Pendle. Winter Hill was a little closer.

I crept past these sleeping swans and went through the stone bridge circle.

As you arrive in Rufford there are busy marinas on either side of the canal.

I had time before my train to look at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built 1869 on the site of a 1736 Chapel. The church was closed and I wandered around the graveyard looking for a C11 preaching cross. Luckily a churchwarden appeared from nowhere and pointed out the said cross base [with an incongruous addition] along with a mass grave from when the church was extended. He pointed out one more gravestone with the words  Richard Ally   Bassoon
The inscription was a reminder of the time when the choir, stationed in the west gallery sang Psalms to the accompaniment of Instruments of Music, which included a bassoon,  played
by Richard Alty. Apparently, the said bassoon is preserved in a case in the church – I wish I’d had time to see that. Inside the church are also several monuments to the Hesketh family closely associated with the nearby Old Rufford Hall.

Bassoon player.

‘Mass grave’

‘Preaching cross’

I caught my train and was back in Preston before dark.

*****

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?

*****

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.

*****

WAINWRGHTS WAY. 6. HOLME TO HAWES BRIDGE [NATLAND]

 

 

A bit of limestone.

This walk gets better and better. We are lucky today with the weather, sun and heavy showers. We only had a few of the latter, whenever Sir Hugh put his waterproofs on the sun came out. The walk out of Holme was easy along a couple of quiet lanes which brought us to Holme Mills the linen mill I mentioned in my last post. A delightful spot with its mill pond but we had taken the wrong way and were well off course. Rewind back into Holme and we started again, this time picking up the path alongside Holme Beck with a series of squeeze stiles. These iconic stones become a feature of the day linking fields together.

We then had a few flooded fields to negotiate to reach the A6.

Safely across the floods with Farleton in the background.                                         

Now little lanes, between occasional characterful cottages, ran parallel to the A6 but in a different time zone. This is limestone country.

 

We passed the fortified farmstead of Beetham Hall, built to defend the locals from marauding Scots.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Next, we were in Beetham, a little hamlet with a long history from the Doomsday Book. I didn’t know about the village stocks until today but I’ve spent many hours in the village pub, the C17th Wheatsheaf Inn. What made Beetham prosperous was the corn mill dating from the C12th and we passed it on the River Bela.

What followed was a promenade through the parkland of Dallam Tower with its Fallow Deer wandering freely. We exited by a bridge over the River Bela before it slides into the Kent Estuary.

Milnthorpe was bypassed on an enclosed path climbing a little ridge with superb views of the Kent Estuary and the Lakeland fells ahead. Across the way was St. Anthony’s Tower a ‘folly’ erected in 1832 as a memorial to the passing of the Great Reform Act, they did things like that in those days. A folly to remember ‘Brexit’  would be very appropriate – but where would you erect it?

A Wainwright. 1975.

We popped out onto the A6 and walked down the pavement until a lane going right. Paths were followed into Heversham, crossing at one point the disused Furness rail line linking Arnside to the main west coast line at Hindcaster. We passed Dallam school, a well-respected establishment. Lunch was taken on a seat in the churchyard of St. Peter’s. There was an ancient cross [?C8th] in the porch but the inside of the church was uninspiring Victorian, having been ‘restored’ by the Lancaster firm of architects Sharpe, Paley and Austin. They were responsible for a large amount of work on churches and country houses in the north-west.

Avoiding the A6 surprisingly steep paths over little hills gave good views down the Kent Estuary, ahead to Scout Scar above Kendal and distant Kentmere with the HIgh Street range we have to tackle. Eventually, we dropped down to Levens Hall, its topiary hedges hidden behind high walls. I was looking forward to the walk alongside the River Kent in Levens Park as I have passed it so many times without venturing away from the car. It didn’t disappoint. It was a delight. Competing with Dallam Park the path climbed above the winding river through mature trees, Bagot Goats walked past us and Black Fallow Deer sprinted by.

Don’t get in my way.

 

Leaving the park we had a short stretch on the line of the Lancaster Canal with its incongruous field bridges. We left the canal at the aqueduct and skew bridge in Sedgwick visited on another occasion.

Today we walked down past Sedgwick Hall, the previous home of the Wakefield family, of gunpowder fame, to rejoin the River Kent.

A Wainwright. 1975.

A lane brought us onto its banks at a suspension bridge. The original bridge here was built in 1858 to take workers across the river to the gunpowder works on the west bank [now a caravan site] it was washed away and replaced by the current bridge,1875.

The river could be heard roaring ahead and soon we were above a gorge with great views down to the rushing waters.  The river then had a short peaceful passage before rushing once again under Hawes Bridge, all very exciting and a fitting end to today’s walk.

 

 

 

A Wainwright. 1975          

For videos of the river in spate have a look at Sir Hugh’s http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2019/10/wainwrights-way-holme-to-crowpark-bridge.html

*****