This was our 1st walk of Spring, although it didn’t particularly feel like it, as a very cool breeze was blowing. We were pleased to welcome two new members to our group along with their dog Beau. Meeting at the Highfield Restaurant on the Southport Rd, on the outskirts of Croston at 1.45, 14 adults, 1 child and the dog set off by crossing the road and passing down a farm track at the side of the site formerly occupied by The Mill Hotel, now demolished, until arriving at the banks of the River Lostock where we turned left. Following the river course over three fields, interlinked with stiles, we branched away from the river and angled across a field, again crossing a stile taking us over two further fields to reach Moor Rd via another stile. Here we turned right towards Croston.
After a couple of 100 yards a footpath to the left took us around the perimeter of a field to emerge into a housing estate and continuing along “The Orchard”, brought us to Moor Rd. Here we turned and continued to its junction with Station Rd, where we again turned left, passing into Town Rd leading us to the village centre.
We viewed the River Yarrow on the right and were reminded of the terrible flooding which took place on Boxing Day 2015. Since then a £7 million pound defence system has been invested in to hopefully prevent any further reoccurrence.
Turning into Church St, we paused briefly for a photo shoot around a stone cross, before passing through the grounds of St Michael & All Angels parish church, a Grade II listed building, dating back to the 15th century, to enter a park area named Croft Field, where an ambitious chain saw user had creating many animal and bird carvings. A suitable series of benches provided a spot for our coffee break.
Refreshed, we resumed the route to exit onto Grape Lane, at a position adjacent to the gates of Croston Hall, the former home of the De Trafford family, albeit demolished in the 1960’s, and bought by Martin Ainscough in 1963. Current plans for the site are the erection of a Country House Hotel. Further along the road we branched left to follow the river route and viewed a weir, before continuing across a series of fields to emerge onto Towngate adjacent to Eccleston Bridge.
Turning left on to New Lane and walking until finding a footpath sign, we followed around the perimeter of a newly converted luxury barn, complete with indoor swimming pool, to enter fields to the rear. A variety of styles and bridges enabled us to cross several fields until arriving at a particular point, where on the reconnoitre, we had passed straight through. However, a new barbed wire fence now prevented our way. Cutting a long story short, a farmer (probably laughing himself silly) pointed out that the official footpath was now by crossing a bridge and passing through a field, in just about the opposite direction to that which we really wanted to be taking. We duly followed the instructions and circled the field perimeter to find an exit via a stile onto a farm lane, which ultimately led us past Sarscow Farm on to Sarscow Lane. During this section, we were surprised by a flurry of rain which was contrary to the weather forecast and fortunately soon stopped. Turning left at the end of the lane, we found ourselves back on Southport Rd and continued back to our starting point.
The distance covered was just over 5.5 miles and despite the cold wind which had been with us all afternoon, the warmth of the companionship made up for it. Our next outing is a longer route and planned for Saturday 13th April.