Mellor Brook to Rivington….and the end!I was woken at 4am by a god-awful screechy, whining racket. Sticking my head out of the tent I saw the source of the racket - a pussy cat. Probably lovelorn, poor bugger.
It was so warm overnight that I slept virtually out of my sleeping bag and with the tent door open. Everything was wet from the dew when I got up.
I was packed and on my way by 5.30am – just as Mellor Brook was stirring. The first part of the route was on tarmac so at least I didn’t have to suffer wet grass. Not for a few minutes anyway.
Unfortunately it wasn’t too long before I was wallowing across dew-laden grass and my feet were once again sodden.
The better news was that the ground improved as the day progressed, there were some nice dry tracks and quiet lanes.
Close to Hoghton Bottoms – anybody got a clue what this is?I was pleased to see that Hoghton Tower was on the route – in the 1960s I spent some short breaks in Hoghton, staying with an Aunt & Uncle. They were very happy times.
The first major objective of the day was the next checkpoint on the route:
Blocked Footpath Warning:
The first navigational challenge of the day came whilst trying to get onto the Leeds & Liverpool Canal towpath, just to the south of Riley Green. It was easy enough to get onto the towpath from the road, but there’s a Right of Way goes through a garden at SD624251. There isn’t a signpost so it looks like walking through a garden is all a bit wrong. An added complication is an almost completely concealed set of steps in the garden wall – the house-owner clearly doesn’t want anyone using the path.
It’s quite easy to get on to the towpath by using an ever-so slightly different route: crossing the road and walking the ‘wrong’ way up the canal for a short distance. This is all very well, but there’s a Public Right of Way that’s been effectively concealed AND virtually blocked….and that’s just wrong. I feel a letter coming on….
The heat got hotter as the morning wore on and I was taking advantage of any shade I could find, the canal bridges proved to be invaluable for this purpose:
For what seemed the first time in ages I heard the sound of noisy traffic, the canal was crossed by the M65 motorway and it was very busy.
Leaving the canal close to Ollerton Fold I was soon back on tarmac, there was very little traffic though. Officially my next objective was Checkpoint 14 at Brinscall….but my stomach had other ideas. I diverted from the route by going through Withnell where there’s the most wonderful Woodlands Cafe in the old Co-op building:
It might not look much from the outside but to a tired and hungry backpacker it was an absolute lifesaver!
Two mugs of tea and an enormous breakfast later, I headed back to the route and St Lukes Church Hall at Brinscall, venue for the checkpoint. My diversion only added a couple of hundred metres onto my route but I really needed a good sit down and a substantial feed – I got both.
…..to pick up this lovely path
The rest of the route is very straightforward and is on really excellent surfaces:
Anyone who’s done the Anglezarke Amble will recognise much of this last section:
After leaving the reservoirs there was a bit of tarmac (no mud!) to the Start / Finish at The Anderton Centre. It was closed when I got there so you’ll have to make do with this photograph of the entrance:
The day’s route, 16.5 miles:At the end of all of that walking I drove home, had a few beers, showered, then treated myself to a takeaway….I really couldn’t be mithered cooking!
ConclusionI always struggle when navigating through field footpaths and this route wasn’t without it’s challenges. These problems were mainly apparent in some sections between Slaidburn and Chipping, and bits towards Mellor Brook. There are a few obstruction problems that I’ve reported to Lancashire County Council…but I’m not holding my breath!
The terrain is generally very good although I’m sure there’ll be more than a bit of mud after heavy rainfall. Whilst that may be the case I really wouldn’t expect any significant problems, there’s loads of really well surfaced tracks.
I struggled with overgrown undergrowth – hardly surprising in the height of summer! At the end of May 2015 I don’t think that will be a problem at all.
The profile of the route (up and downery) isn’t a problem. It’s not a flat route by any means but the lumpy bits are all highly do-able.
I’d like to clarify that I didn’t always follow the route exactly. This was for various reasons, such as needing to find somewhere to put my tent, needing to buy food etc. Interestingly some of the route sections I did follow exactly sometimes differed in distance when comparing the route description to my GPS-measured distance.
I think it’s a brilliant route, I thoroughly enjoyed backpacking it. I feel it’s so good that it deserves to be recognised by Lancashire County Council and promoted as a Long Distance Path. There are a few bits that need tweaking – that’s already receiving attention from the route planners. When the tweaks are sorted it will transform the route from Brilliant to Absolutely Marvellous!
All you need to do now is to pray to Freyr for a decent May 2015….get praying!