The March Ramble
This walk started at Wheelton (with 8 people and 2 ‘four footed’ friends) from the car park at the Dressers Arms. This establishment has been around a lot longer than any of the participants – in fact it was “The Inn on Friars Brow” in Oliver Cromwell’s time and commemorates Cromwell’s persecution of the Roman Catholics in the area and in particular the Brothers of a Friary that stood on top of the hill. Until its expansion in the late 1950s, it was the smallest pub in Lancashire.
Leaving the car park we crossed the main road and soon took a path that led us across a very muddy field and then down through a copse of Chestnut trees to a lane with a view point which overlooks the canal to the Lancashire Plain and a view of the large gasometer at Southport. A short way along the lane we turned down a track and joined the tow-path of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. This was started in 1773 and completed with the final link in 1817. A distance of 127 miles.
This led us to the hamlet of Withnell Fold which lays claim to fame by being the home of a paper mill built by the Parkes Family in 1843 which in its latter years produced bank-note paper. It closed about 1970 and in recent years new housing has been added to the old core of the village. Our route now followed the cobbled road up to the main Chorley – Blackburn road and then across to Oakmere Avenue. This led to Snape’s Heights Farm and from where it was possible to see across Preston but it was not clear enough to pick out Blackpool Tower nor Heysham Power Station. From here we followed a track to Pike Low Farm and eventually entered a fairly new estate in Brinscall. A tarmac footpath cutting down between two estates led us down to the old part of Brinscall. At the bottom of the hill we came to the old mill lodge which has become a village pond with a wide selection of bird life. Here there were three conveniently seating benches sited and this was our lunch stop. There was a fairly strong wind blowing and as the writer got up to pack his rucksack, his seating mat took off. Fortunately the wind was blowing from the pond and Eddy valiantly chased the offending article with a creditable hop-scotch a good 50 yards before managing to pin it down.
After being fed and watered, we continued up Well Lane to cross a stile into Wheelton Plantation Woodland. It had been expected that we would see a wide selection of birds but none were around at the time of our passing. Following the path we eventually crossed over a fast flowing stream and down to the track bed of the disused Chorley – Blackburn railway line. Here we crossed over the railway bridge and turned left along the road then over a concrete bridge across a brook to reach a road. Following the track uphill and over numerous stiles we eventually came to a point with good views to the left of Chorley and the Lancashire Plain. From here our path was through the paddock and across three stiles in quick succession. At the farm drive we turned right to walk up to Briars Brow and turned left down the road to return to the Dressers Arms.
Distance 7 miles. Thanks to Eddy Grange for an enjoyable walk and arranging the good weather.