December Doddles

Sunday December 23rd. "Ast sin mi dad?" Remembering the 344. 17 miles. Leader: Hilary Scott


Sunday morning dawned very miserably after raining all night and the forecast of even more rain. Two days before Christmas, hmm, not many people are going to turn out today I thought...….

23 brave souls left Cutacre Country park to remember the 344 miners (men and boys) who were killed in the Pretoria Pit disaster of December 21st 1910. After cutting across the newly laid country park we soon reached Atherton and the first memorial visited dedicated to the disaster. It is a sobering moment to see so many names especially those sharing the same surname, presumably relatives all killed together.

Leaving the memorial we headed up into the woods to find the capping of that fateful shaft, now in peaceful woodland with little to show from the huge pit that once stood there. Part of the path had turned into a stream with a challenging crossing of another stream. Worse was to come.....

Onwards towards Westhoughton through Hall Lee Bank Park, passing the library where the picture "Ast sin mi dad?" is hung. This was commissioned to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the disaster. Morning coffee was taken in Ditchfield Gardens where there is another memorial and we had music from the church bells of nearby St Bartholomew's.

After paying a visit to the mass grave in the Churchyard of St Bartholomew's we headed over to Westhoughton golf course which was closed due to the weather conditions. It hadn't stopped raining yet.  A good path suddenly turned into a raging torrent and we had to divert onto the golf course itself. Worse was to come.....

We made our way over to Borsdane Wood, a lovely wood especially in the springtime. Even today it was peaceful though the water was as high as I've ever seen it. Up Dodd lane and then across to Wingates, passing some angry geese and barking dogs on the way. Thanks to Bill and Colin for doing gate duty here. I had planned to have lunch in Wingates Church cemetery where a further 45 miners are buried but the lure of some shelter under a nearby closed restaurant porch was too good an opportunity to miss. It was still raining...

Moving on, we crossed the motorway and then the railway to make our way up to Lostock Golf Course. Viv led a party to look at Lostock Gate House, one of the oldest buildings in Bolton whilst others looked at Bolton Wanderers training ground and talked football.

After walking through the golf course we re crossed the railway and.... found a bridge that we had to cross completely submerged in fast flowing water with the path flooded at either side as well! I think I was stood like a rabbit caught in the headlights frantically trying to work out a re route when Hazel took charge of the situation and aided with a pole and Bill and Colin made it safely across. The rest of us followed - slowly! - with no accidents and much relief when all were safely across. Never say you don't have an adventure when out with East Lancs!

Up to Chew Moor and Lock Lane leading to Hunger Hill. We walked parallel to the motorway for a while and then crossed farmland to St Helen's road and onward to Top o th' cow reservoir. As we turned from here we could see the cars parked in front of the Whistl building below us - and it finally stopped raining! Down over the fields and re crossed the motorway to arrive back in daylight at 3.20pm.

Thank you so much to all that came, there was so much good humour on this walk, nobody complained although conditions were poor. Special thanks to Nick too for recceing the walk twice with me and back marking. A few of us retired to the nearby Pine Tree Farm pub to have a drink and reflect on a grand day out with East Lancs.



Click here to see Peter's pictures.



Wednesday December 19th. Wintertime Saunter. 12 miles. Leader: Roger Hellowell



A football team’s worth of happy hikers (that’s 22 legs divided by two), captained by Roger Hellowell, gathered in Littleborough for some pre-Christmas training. We didn’t need to battle against the elements as the weather was kind to us all day.

Heading broadly east we left Littleborough through the garden of an impressive manor house with a lawn like a football pitch except for the gradient. Then the team went along a lovely valley described by one player as like something out of Lord of the Rings. However it wasn’t long before one of the team, Barbara, took a dive, fell foul of a treacherous footbridge and landed heavily on the steps. The physio was called in, and after treatment and recuperation she was declared fit to play on. Unfortunately, soon after we were down to ten men and women due to a player being called home, with no substitute.

A photo stop was made at an animal sanctuary with a large black pig, donkeys, geese and more, appropriately called The Field of Dreams, near Higher Chelburn Reservoir. Heading north, a short stretch of the Rochdale Canal led us over to Light Hazzles, on to Knoll Top and Warland. We cruised along the canal again before tackling the steep ascent on the Rochdale Way up to Allenden Hill and Cuckoo Hill, stopping for lunch near Bent Stool Farm along the way. Swinging back east by two fishing lodges we dropped down to the A6033 at Gale to pick up the canal again to continue via Durn Lock back to Littleborough with daylight to spare. The route was cut to around 12 miles due to the late kick off (the captain’s car trouble) and injury time, leaving time for refreshments at the excellent café at the Coach House Community Hub.

Well done Roger, you’re in a league of your own!

Barbara Shelton


Click here for Peters pictures.


Pictures below from Barbara.



Sunday December 16th. Christmas Cracker 2018. 15 miles. Leader: Norman Thomas.


We had 51 walkers and 1 dog. The weather was very kind to us, everyone in good spirits and ready to go. We went up through the Japanese Gardens to Rivington Pike and down to Wilderswood for our morning break. Then onwards to the Bottom Barn and then to the Singing Tree where we sang 2 Christmas carols and observed a minute’s silence for the ones who are no longer with us. Afterwards we made our way to the Bay Horse pub for lunch. The hot pot and veggie mains were both very good indeed, well done Carl the owner.

The afternoon walk was very different from the last few times. We came to Anglezarke and made our way to the Bomber Memorial in lead mines valley. I asked Geoff (ex police officer) if the afternoon part was OK, he rated 9 ½ out of 10, I was very happy with that. We then returned to Top Barn and our cars.

Thank you all for being there


PS: When in the Bay Horse at lunch time Viv and Barbara went round collecting for my charity (Christies) and you raised £220 which I will match. A very big thank you for that, East Lancs did me proud again.



Click here to see Peters Pictures


Photos below by Jane


Wednesday December 5th. Downham Round. 14 miles. Leaders: Christine Cocks and Isobel Graham.


The group consisted of 14 walkers, 13 LDWA members and 1 non member, from our local rambling group, Leigh and District Rambling Club. We set off from Downham Village car park at 9.45am on what was possibly the wettest East Lancs walk of the year, if not ever.

Heading north we crossed the A59 and walked through Sawley past the remains of the Cistercian Abbey which dates back to the 12th century. Crossing the river Ribble at Sawley Bridge the route took us through much open countryside for several miles. This section of the walk proved to be very hard-going due to the relentless rain, numerous rickety, slippery stiles and sodden fields/paths.

We did manage to find a relatively sheltered location for lunch, an old, partially-roofed farm building where we had stopped the previous week on our second recce of the walk. After lunch the paths improved as we made our way to West Bradford. From here we crossed Bradford Bridge and followed the Ribble Way into Chatburn, where we stopped for a quick break before crossing the road bridge above the A59 and back into Downham Village. 

Fortunately we managed to complete the walk in daylight arriving at the car park at 3.30pm.

We would like to thank everyone who braved the weather and remained cheerful throughout the day.

Christine and Isobel