Midge Walkers

Walk  No. 131

Crumbly Cheese Walk

Getting out of a nice warm car, into the cold of a chill wind, certainly doesn’t make you want to hang about for too long. As such the 10 walkers set off promptly at 11 a.m. from Catterall Village Hall, crossing the Garstang Rd and over a bridge spanning the River Calder, to climb over a stile and follow the hedge line through three fields to arrive at Sandholme Lane, where we turned left and soon came to Sturzaker House Farm. This had in year’s past been a source of cheese production, but now is purely a farm almost in the middle of nowhere. Notwithstanding it’s remoteness last year it suffered the theft of 2 John Deere tractors incurring a loss of in excess of £40,000.

Passing further along the lane brought us to the canal, where we joined the tow path at Bridge No 53 and turned left towards Garstang. The M6 Motorway and main line railway could be clearly seen (and heard) to our right, with the hills of Beacon Fell and Nicky Nook as a backdrop. We continued to Bridge 56 where we left the path, climbing steps and crossing over a stile. Turning left to join a farm track, after a short distance we passed through a gate and immediately turned left to cross another stile and over a field leading us towards some farm buildings. Exiting the yard over a stile and crossing a field led us to another couple of stiles, bringing us to a select group of properties nestling at the base of a mound clearly supporting the ruins of what we were reliably informed had been Greenhalgh Castle, dating back to 1490 and later became one of the last Royalist strongholds during the English Civil War.

Turning between the buildings, along a track and through a kissing gate, we crossed over 2 fields to arrive at a set of steps leading down to a gully. This had been the route of the former Garstang to Knott End Rail line. It had cost £150,000 to build and taken 5.5 years to construct a 7 mile single track, opening in December 1870. The line initially carried a combination of passengers and goods and had 1 engine and whilst being extended in 1908 to add a further 4.5 miles, it ultimately closed in 1965. Following this route brought us to a suitable stopping point adjacent to the River Wyre and overlooking the cricket pitch, where we consumed our lunch.

Re-energised we followed the Wyre bank, over 2 fields to emerge onto Bonds Lane and cross into the drive of Corn-mill Nursing Home. This building by virtue of its name had started life as a mill, drawing its power from the river alongside. The footpath soon brought us to an elaborate stone bridge, which after passing under, a set of steps brought us to the top, and the banks of the canal. The Wyre Aqueduct engineered by John Rennie and built in 1797 from sandstone blocks is a single span construction 110 ft long and carries the Lancaster Canal over the Wyre at a height of 34 ft.

Turning for a short distance towards Garstang, we passed through a narrow gate, leading us to a path around the perimeter of a new housing development and arrived at the A6 Preston Lancaster New Rd where we turned left taking us towards the giant wind turbine at Dewlay, the only cheese maker still operating. Passing down through an unusually clean farm yard, we followed a lane around the perimeter of a couple of fields leading us towards the buildings surrounding Kirkland Hall, some of which were clearly under repair. Continuing along the lane through another farmyard ultimately brought us to the main road of Tarnacre Lane. Here we crossed and followed the road into the ancient village of Churchtown. St Helen’s Church, a Grade 1 listed building was erected in the 15th and 16th centuries and forms a focal point and we went in to view some of the historic features, including the 6-bell church tower.

Passing through the church yard took us along a path and over a suspension bridge crossing the Wyre, to a farm lane. Two small goats occupied a field to our right and were clearly employed to keep the grass suitably cropped. Taking a gate to the left, took us along a path running parallel to the river, across 3 fields to emerge into a group of houses on Old Lancaster Rd. From here we cut through to cross the A6 into Tan Yard Rd passing the buildings of Collinson’s, who manufacture grain hoppers. Rounding the perimeter of one of the buildings brought us to the confluence of the Wyre and Calder rivers and continuing along brought us back across the playing fields to our starting point.

This walk had been undertaken on two previous occasions and certainly proved popular and picturesque each time. The puzzling thing being that the distance covered seems to vary on each occasion. This time we settled for 6.5 miles and despite the wind chill that had persisted throughout we were all pleased to have participated and thanked the organiser accordingly.

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