Tuesday, May 13 – Leyland

Started this afternoon for a ‘churchyard’ run.  Reaching Four Lane Ends, I turned along Manchester road to Chequerbent, facing a very strong wind which opposed me through Westhoughton to Blackrod.  From this vantage point, I had an excellent view of the great bulk of Rivington Moor and the valley between, including the level land towards Southport and the Ribble.  Dropping downhill to Adlington, I gained the main Bolton – Preston road, and thus came to Chorley.  From here it is but a short run along Euxton lane, across Wigan road, and then through a beautiful wood into Leyland.  I spent over an hour in the churchyard looking for unusual gravestones and epitaphs.  Somewhat successful in this weird occupation, I regained Wigan road and soon passed Cuerden Hall to Bamber Bridge, and Walton-le-Dale for tea.  After tea I had a chat with the proprietor of the Unicorn (now a café), who told me about Hoghton Tower and this Inn, which he kept.  It is very old, and abounds with secret hiding places, one of them being a secret meeting room of the Jacobeans in the early 18th century.  Here, several arrests were made, and some of the leaders beheaded near this spot.  At 6.15, I took the road to Higher Walton and Hoghton, where, on the summit of an eminence is Hoghton Tower, the age-old home of the de Hoghton family, and immortalised by Harrison Ainsworth in ‘Lancashire Witches’.  This ancient half castle, half mansion still belongs to the family, which has continued in unbroken ownership for over five centuries.  The present owner is Sir James de Hoghton.

From the village churchyard I got a glorious view of the surrounding country.  On my extreme left, the moors of Darwen rose in massive bulk, crowned by well known Darwen Tower.  This heavily populated valley, below, with Blackburn spreading its industrial tentacles across and into the hills on three sides.  More distant was unmistakeable Pendle, whilst sweeping round, I made out clearly Longridge Fell beyond the Ribble.  The fells around Bleasdale, the level land beyond, and a dim line marked Cartmell Fell, across Morecambe Bay.  The sea, and the Ribble estuary resembled a sheet of glimmering sliver, black dots and wisps of smoke betraying ships.  And Blackpool Tower plainly visible.  Such were the views on this ultra clear day, that I lingered long, first at one point, then at another.  Climbing through Abbey Village, I found ‘Teddy Ashtons’ Well, a spring of remarkably clear water, of which I drank.  The going was rather hard, but having plenty of time I took it easily, arriving at Belmont at 7.30pm.  I now joined that byway which runs over the moors to Rivington.  Again, as expected, I got some fine views before dropping down into Lever Park.  I made for the ‘old castle’ which I have closely watched during construction, but found it locked up, so I returned home via Horwich and Blackrod.                                      50 miles