Sunday, August 1, 2010

Calder Vale Walk

Ducklings at Calder Vale Mill Pond
Ducklings at Calder Vale Mill Pond

The village of Calder Vale nestles in a steep sided valley around the River Calder, in the west of Bowland close to the A6 and the market town of Garstang.  It was originally founded by Quakers Jonathan and Richard Jackson, who sited a water-powered cotton mill, Lappet Mill, here in 1835 and built the stone terraced housing for the workers.  The Lappet Mill is still in use today, having found a niche weaving cotton for Arab headscarves, and although it is no longer water-powered the original mill pond and sluice machinery remain.

Calder Vale Methodist Chapel and Lappet Mill
Calder Vale Methodist Chapel and Lappet Mill

The road to Calder Vale reaches a dead-end at the village, and the plethora of Private Land and No-Parking signs that affront you as you drive across the bridge towards Lappet Mill reinforces the cul-de-sac vibe.  The trend for prohibition signs continues around the village, reaching critical mass at the millpond, where all kinds of unsafe activities must have been attempted in the past!  On a more positive note, the many public footpaths running from and around the village are also well signed, and the village has a bus service running from Garstang.  All the places discussed are marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL41 map.

Public Footpaths Signs
Public Footpath Signs

Having found an approved parking spot outside the village hall, and with eldest daughter Holly in tow, we crossed the Calder Bridge and took a look at the Methodist Chapel and Lappet Mill buildings before heading off in the direction of Church Wood (also signed Calder Vale Circular Walk Green).  We travelled by the smart stone terraced cottages of Long Row Terrace, with the first of many wild rabbits playing on the grass opposite, before entering the wood, signed Footpath to St John's Church.  The broad tarmac path took us past a large, still millpond filled with curious ducks, and with the Calder to our left ascended steeply up to the church of St John the Evangelist.  We passed through the churchyard and attached primary school grounds, then joined a country lane.

Long Row Terrace
Long Row Terrace

Mill Pond Approach
Mill Pond Approach

River Calder at Church Wood Calder Vale
River Calder at Church Wood Calder Vale

River Calder Weir
River Calder Weir

Sluice Gate Machinery
Sluice Gate Machinery

Calder Vale Mill Pond
Calder Vale Mill Pond

St John the Evangelist Church
St John the Evangelist Church

We bore right, signed Landskill and Delph Lane, and followed the lane up the hill through open hill farmyard.  We were treated to fabulous open views across to Cobble Hey in the south and Blackpool Tower to the west.  What seemed like hundreds of wild rabbits bobbed about all over the fields, while swallows zipped about overhead.  There were also free-range chickens, sheep and cows in abundance, and a couple of friendly black pigs for good measure.

View from hills above Calder Vale
View from hills above Calder Vale

Black Pigs
Black Pigs

We continued to follow the green Circular Walk discs which took us through a series of farms before leading us back down the hill and returning to Long Row Terrace close to where we started.  The whole of the circular walk was on good surfaced paths suitable for wheelchair and pushchair users, although we did cross several cattle grids.

Free Range Chicken
Free Range Chicken

Eager to explore a bit more of the village, Holly and I continued on through Lappet Mill, following the signs for Sullom Side, and continued on the east bank of the Calder.  In contrast to the circular walk, this path was boggy and ill-defined, passing right through a farmer's field, and would not be suitable for those not sure-footed.  We followed this path until a footbridge took us back over the Calder.  After crossing the bridge we followed the road back along the west side of the river, continuing back to the village hall and our car home.

Footbridge over River Calder
Footbridge over River Calder

Holly
Holly Walking

Calder Vale is both a beautiful spot to visit and walk around, and an interesting living reminder of the industrial history of cotton production in Lancashire.  We'll be back to explore further.

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