TWO or three times in recent months I have planned to start describing my local rambles through the East Lancashire countryside. Then the foot and mouth disease struck.
More and more footpaths are now re-opening and so next week I am going to start on the Walks series. Let us hope that the countryside can return to normal.
This week I have started to prepare myself for walks to come by looking back at walks enjoyed by the East Lancashire mill workers of the 1900s.
In those days folk worked harder and for longer than we do today. Sunday was a day when many folk walked miles to get a breath of fresh air away from the soot-laden atmosphere of mill or cobbled street.
Over the next few months I am going to explore the old ferries which served our river crossings in the days before bridges.
Dinckley Ferry was one of the most popular ferries and this row boat river crossing was popular until the 1950s when it was replaced by a footbridge.
The last time I visited the area I took the route from Blackburn and parked near the Old Tanners Arms.
I saw kingfisher, dipper, heron and a cormorant. The presence of the latter species did not please an angler who had just caught a rather splendid trout.
Anglers do not like the goosander either, and in some individuals the sight of a heron brings them out in a fit of rage!
Some anglers, however, have a live-and-let-live attitude to fish-eating birds. These people are naturalists’ who fish and I think they may enjoy their hobby more than those whose only interest is in fishing. I wonder what these folk will do as the otter starts to make a comeback. Another walk which is in my list is around Waddington.
Alms houses have always fascinated me. Rest homes for the retired are not a recent renovation. Most estates looked after their retired workers with sympathy and historians should give them credit for doing this.
One of the best set of alms houses to be seen anywhere in England is at Waddington.
In 1701, Robert Parker of Browsholme Hall built a wonderful set of alms houses. They are still there close to the Higher Buck Inn on the road towards West Bradford.
Through the gate all of the old buildings remain, constructed around a pretty green and sheltered by fine old beech trees.
The ancient water pump is still there as is the chapel which once meant that the little community was self sufficient.
It is still a very secluded place even to this day but Robert Parker had anticipated the old age pension and a hospice by around 300 years!
This is why East Lancashire is so underrated as a tourist area. Here is splendid countryside and grand old buildings. This is an unbeatable combination.