Midge Walkers

Walk No.  139

Brindle & Withnell Fold 10-11-19

The morning of Sunday 10th had started with frost, but by the time of the start of our walk, albeit still a little chilly, at least the sun was shining and the temperature had climbed to 9 degrees. Thirteen adults and young Jack assembled in the car park at Brindle Community Hall at 2.00 p.m. and set off along Water St, passing St James Church, to the junction with Sandy Lane, where we turned right. After about 100yds we branched right between the houses to enter the first of a series of somewhat boggy fields linked by stiles until arriving at Marsh Lane where we again turned right.

Following this into Hiltons Brow brought us to a farm lane to the left, sign posted to Lady Hall Farm which we followed, subsequently passing through the yard and onwards through a gate to a particularly muddy field which managed to suck at our boots and make progress difficult. Taking a path down and over a stile led us into a wooded area and over a foot bridge, and continuing through the trees brought us to a well-made path leading to the canal with Withnell Mill on the far bank, dating back to 1844 and now in a somewhat sorry state. A barge chugged past at a leisurely pace, but it didn’t really look a lot of fun!

Passing over Bridge 88 we took a detour to view Withnell Fold Village which was built at the same time as the mill to accommodate the workers. It had the distinction that all the houses were built with an outside earth-closet and all had a front garden. The mill and village were the creation of the son of a cotton magnate, who was a Methodist and sympathetic to his workers, who received payments equating to roughly double the national average and women were paid as much as men. Kathleen Ferrier the world-famous contralto singer lived for some time at No 9 on the square. We stopped for our coffee break overlooking the village square and put Jack in the stocks to keep him out of mischief only releasing him to share his latest supply of chocolates.

Retracing our steps to the canal bank we continued along the tow path to Bridge no 85, where we branched left over a stile to take a slippery slope along- side a fence which necessitated progressing in single file. It wasn’t long before the first casualty was claimed, demolishing the fence in the process of an almost perfect forward roll.

Crossing a series of fields linked by gates and stiles brought us to exit on to Denham Lane adjacent to an area known as “Top O’Th’ Lane”. Turning right over a stile and around the perimeter of another couple of fields took us down a slope towards the already illuminated housing back in the village of Brindle. Crossing a footbridge and two stiles we emerged at the side of the school on Water St and returned through the picturesque village, to our starting point.

As the nights draw in, we had just completed the 4.6mile distance it in time. We had started off in the same manner as a walk we had done way back in September 2015, but because of time restraints etc. modified the latter part. Notwithstanding this had been as equally enjoyable and has resulted in a scientific discovery.

“The heavier you are, the deeper you sink into the mud.”

That may sound obvious but when you watch Jack virtually skimming over the surface of these obstacles, whilst others are up to their ankles, that’s when the realisation occurs. Our thanks as always to everyone who turned up and to the organisers.

Ray Lamb

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