Peasholm Park, Scarborough

My Monday walk this week features Peasholm Park in Scarborough’s North Bay area, a place I visited while camping near there at Easter a few years ago. The park is situated on what were once the extensive grounds of the medieval Northstead Manor which had been part of the Crown Estate from the 14th century. By the beginning of the 20th century the area had become open farming land but in 1911 Scarborough Corporation bought some of the land from the Duchy of Lancaster and created the public park which was opened in 1912, then following the purchase of more land the natural ravine of Peasholm Glen was added to the park in 1924.
The park’s main attraction is its large boating lake with a central island; accessed by a Japanese-style bridge the island has a peaceful wooded area and Japanese-themed gardens said to be based on the Willow Pattern pottery design with a pagoda and a waterfall flowing down to the lake. Three times a week during the summer season the lake plays host to the Naval Warfare event the Battle of Peasholm, a recreation of the Battle of the River Plate using man powered model boats steered by council employees and known as ‘the smallest manned Navy in the world’.
My walk started not far from the lakeside cafe and circuited the lake in a clockwise direction. In late April the trees were resplendent in their fresh green foliage, the cherry trees were full of pink blossom, the flower beds were a profusion of bright red tulips and yellow bedding plants and with the brightly coloured dragon boats on the lake the whole area looked really pretty.
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At the far side of the lake I crossed the Half Moon Bridge onto the island, stopping momentarily to watch the progress of three dragon boats on the water below, then at the end of the bridge I turned left and walked past the waterfall and round to the other side of the island where the grass beneath the trees was covered in a carpet of daisies and half a dozen geese were chilling out in a patch of sunlight.
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Ignoring the geese I climbed the steps up to the top of the island; never having been there before I didn’t know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised to find a pretty and very peaceful Japanese garden surrounded by trees and shrubs and dotted here and there with stone ornaments. A path ran all the way round the garden and a pond in the centre was crossed by a couple of oriental bridges.
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Having walked round the gardens twice I made my way back down the steps, round the base of the island and back across the Half Moon Bridge to continue my clockwise walk round the lake. By the time I reached the café I was feeling quite peckish – it was time for coffee and cake, and though the café was very busy I managed to get a table on the outside terrace where I could sit for a while and watch the world go by.
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My lakeside walk ended where it had started, not far from the café. My previous visit to Peasholm Park had been during a holiday thirty years before so it had been nice to wander along the lakeside and discover the gardens on the island – and hopefully it won’t be another thirty years before I make a return visit.

 

Unbelievable!

Less than two years after the huge fire which devastated more than five square miles of the Winter Hill moorland not far from my home there’s recently been another fire up there. It broke out last Friday afternoon (March 27th) soon after 2pm in the area close to the car park on the moorland road not far from the Blue Lagoon reservoir at Belmont. With some of the flames reaching a height of 6 metres and burning more than a square mile of moorland the fire was attended by 8 fire engines and 40 firefighters from both Lancashire and Greater Manchester fire services, but thanks to all their hard work it was extinguished completely before 7pm that evening.

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All pictures sourced from the internet
At first it was thought that the fire had been started by a discarded portable barbecue as police had earlier received reports of a group of people having a barbecue near there in spite of recent government directives to stay at home during the current crisis, however it’s now thought to have been started deliberately as a group of teenagers were seen running away from the area and driving off in a red car just before the blaze took hold.
Although it’s understandable that many people would have liked to take advantage of the warm sunny weather of last week and the week before it’s beyond belief that there are those who are thoughtless enough to use disposable barbecues on the currently dry moorland, and even more unbelievable that there are those who are brainless enough to deliberately set the grass on fire, obviously not caring about the damage caused to the moorland and its wildlife. Fortunately this latest fire wasn’t as great as the 2018 one so hopefully, as long as there are no further incidents, that part of the moorland won’t be too long before it shows signs of recovery.

 

Staying local

My Monday walk this week is a very pleasant local one not far from home, a walk which I’ve done many times before over the years and will probably do many more times in the future. Starting from the rear car park of the Last Drop Village a grassy path led across a couple of fields to a gravel path running through a partially wooded area still looking very bare with its leafless trees, then a gap in a stone wall took me through to the quiet traffic-free tarmac lane passing the boundary of the old Cox Green quarry.
Although officially ‘out of bounds’ to the public for several years the place is used by rock climbers so a gate and a path lead from the lane into the heart of the quarry itself, with another path taking a short circular route round a small pond on the upper level. At one time the pond looked quite attractive and in summer would be a nice place to chill out for a while but now it seems to be drying up and looks nowhere near as pretty as it once did.
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Back on the lane I eventually reached the road past a long row of modern houses and bungalows but another path took me away from there and past a field of grazing sheep to the boundary of the nearby golf course. As I walked towards the golf course gate a peacock butterfly flitted past me and landed on the path just a few yards away but before I had chance to focus the camera it flew off again so I kept walking. This happened several times but eventually it landed and stayed just long enough for me to snatch a reasonable photo of it.
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Through the gate onto the golf course and along the path I came to my most favourite part of the course. Set back from the path it may not look much from the photos but it’s so nice that I’ve often thought that if I could ever choose a place to build my own house that would be it, though I don’t suppose the golfers would be happy about losing one of their greens.
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Further along the path I came to the golf course pond, currently looking rather overgrown with reeds. The path split into two there, going right would eventually take me round to the club house so to extend my walk I went left and skirted the gated gardens of Torra Manor, a period detached house sitting in an elevated position overlooking the golf course and countryside. Very little is known about the property but it’s thought to originally date from the 17th century, and though it’s undergone more than one refurbishment over the years it still retains many original interior features including a stone staircase, exposed beams and stone and slate floors.
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Past the house and down the hill I left the golf course behind and the path took me across open grazing land to the lane leading down to Turton Tower’s castellated railway bridge, built in 1847 and commissioned by James Kay, the then owner of Turton Tower. With the advantage of very few bushes currently obstructing the view of the bridge from the railway embankment I was able to get a decent shot of the side of it and I was just about to walk away when I heard a train approaching. Unfortunately I hadn’t time to change the camera setting but I still got a reasonable shot as the train whizzed under the bridge.
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For obvious reasons Turton Tower itself wasn’t open but the grounds were so I had a pleasant wander round the woodlands and the gardens, getting a handful of shots before following the lane down onto the nearby main road. About half a mile of road walking from there took me to a side lane close to a farm and a small enclave of cottages and from there I headed back towards the Last Drop Village.
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The Last Drop Village, with its hotel, pub/restaurant, shops and function rooms is always a popular place and I can never usually take any photos without other people getting in my line of vision and spoiling the shot but this time it was different – the place was completely deserted and actually felt quite strange with no-one around.
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Had I been able to I would have had coffee and cake at the Last Drop but of course I couldn’t, so with the final shot of the flower bed I headed for home to chill out and have my own coffee and cake there instead.

 

**Just to make it clear to anyone who may think I’m being completely irresponsible (you know who you are!) this walk was done before  the current lock down and I did not  drive to get to the Last Drop Village. I walked, but the route from home to there is just boring road walking and not worth mentioning, so for this post I classed my ‘official’ walk as starting and ending where it would have done if I had  driven there. Maybe some  people shouldn’t be so quick to criticise without knowing all the facts!

 

Scavenger photo hunt – March

Caring for my little dog Sophie and the following emotional devastation of her death meant I didn’t manage to take part in the photo challenge last month, and given the current crisis I wasn’t sure if it would go ahead this time but thanks to Kate it has done. The topics for this month are – birthday, jazzy, flag, three, cushion and as always, my own choice, so here’s what I’ve selected this time.
I always try, if I can, to make sure that I have some time off work in early June so I can celebrate my birthday while on a camping holiday and June 2014 was no exception. Previous to going away I’d been given a few cards by Michael and his extended family, plus a small cake, so I took them all with me and on the day set them out on top of the unit in my tent. Unfortunately the top of the flower on the cake got broken in transit but it didn’t matter, the cake itself was delicious.
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Birthday – in the tent on an Anglesey camp site
The next one proved to be a bit of a challenge as the one item I could have used has already been featured in a previous month, however searching through one of my wardrobes I found the ideal thing. I bought the designer jacket with a colourful jazzy pattern back in 1992 from a very exclusive local boutique – at today’s prices it would be considered reasonable but back then it was quite expensive. Worn with a plain black top and trousers it looked good, still does though I never go anywhere these days to wear it.
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Jazzy – my designer jacket
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One of the dog walks I occasionally do takes me past a pub set on the corner of a narrow residential road not far from the local countryside. I don’t normally take much notice of the building but the name was appropriate to the next topic so last week I purposely went to photograph the attractive sign on the front wall.
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Flag – the Flag Inn sign
The next shot was taken just yesterday while walking Poppie on my one currently permitted period of exercise. Although I live at No. 3 photographing my door number would be too obvious – and it’s too ordinary to photograph anyway – so I decided to search out a possible example and found it in these three daffodils growing together close to a stone wall.
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Three – daffodils on a dog walk
The next subject is very special to me and even more so to Michael. The original photo was taken on Michael’s wedding day in 2007; in 2016 the cushion was made as a birthday present for his dad in June that year, then four months later when we accompanied him back to Ireland to spend his last days there it was packed for him to take with him. After he passed away I brought the cushion back here and it’s lived in Michael’s room ever since, though as we have very few photos of him and his dad together it’s kept as a memory rather than something to be used.
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Cushion – something very special to both of us
For my own choice it’s hard to select just one out of the thousands of photos I have, but with Easter not far off I decided to choose this one. It was taken on a very sunny Good Friday in 2014, on the riverside walk along the River Dee running through the lovely little town of Llangollen in North Wales.
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My own choice – River Dee, Llangollen
Well that’s just about it for this month. Thanks go to Kate for continuing to host the challenge, as usual I’m linking up with her blog and will hop over there soon to see what everyone else has chosen for this month’s topics.

 

Lytham/St. Annes – a walk in two parts

My Monday walk this week is split into two halves, visiting two different parts of the same area but on two separate days two weeks apart. First was St. Annes, a place I go to quite often; Michael had a day off from work so he came with me and once I’d parked up near our favourite cafe we went our separate ways, arranging to meet back there for a meal later on. Walking through the promenade gardens, where I discovered that the water in the waterfall was now blue, I made my way to Ashton Gardens just a couple of streets back from the sea front.

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When I got to the side entrance to the park I was surprised to see that since my visit there last July the flowering shrubs and bushes near the pavilion café had all been drastically cut down. It really opened up the whole area but to me it was too open; lined by flowering shrubs the pathways had looked really attractive before, now the whole place just looked bare.
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Past the sunken garden and through the rose garden I came to where the meandering waterway was crossed at various points by stepping stones and a bridge, and set back just off the path I found a large clump of daffodils and some other yellow flowers – not being a gardener I don’t know what they were but they looked pretty.
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Now while I much prefer wandering round parks and gardens when the leaves are on the trees there’s something to be said for the trees in Ashton Gardens currently being bare. The various features of the waterway are completely visible instead of some of them being obscured by overhanging branches and that part of the gardens looks just as attractive now as it does later in the year.

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Leaving Ashton Gardens by the main entrance I made my way back to the sea front, this time walking along the promenade instead of through the gardens. The earlier high tide had retreated and far beyond the end of the pier a lone man and his dog walked out to the ruined landing jetty. In spite of the glorious sunshine there was a very chilly wind blowing so it was good to finally meet Michael back in the welcome warmth of the café for a good meal and a hot milky coffee before driving back home.

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The second part of my walk was done just yesterday in a part of Lytham I’ve often thought of exploring but up to now, for whatever reason, I never have. A few years ago I’d found out that on the southern outskirts, and obscured from the main road by a high bank, was a creek where various yachts and other pleasure craft were moored so being on my own this time it was a good opportunity to take a look.
Leaving the van in a nearby Macdonald’s car park I crossed the main road to a footpath which would take me along the side of the creek however I soon realised I was on the wrong side; the creek itself was separated from the path by a large fenced off boatyard and storage area which extended for quite a distance and there was no way I could get through. The grassy path eventually took me through a pleasant sparsely wooded area to another creek, narrow and very muddy, with just a couple of fishing boats moored at the end of a wooden jetty and a yacht tipped over on its side, presumably the result of the recent storms. To be honest this place wasn’t particularly attractive but maybe it would look better with more water in it.
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I’d climbed down the bank to get closer shots of the boats and as I climbed back up again I saw something which amused me enough to take a photo; sticking up out of the grass was the top of a green welly. The boot itself was firmly wedged several inches down so I can only assume that someone had put their foot into what had once been very soft ground and couldn’t get it out again, meaning they had to leave the welly behind.
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Anyone lost a welly boot?
The path turned inland and took me along the bank of the creek, which narrowed to little more than a muddy channel with a dead end, to a quiet lane which eventually emerged onto the main road a good quarter of a mile from where I started. I still hadn’t found the creek I was originally looking for so I walked all the way back along the road, past the start of the path I’d followed and one of the boatyard buildings to where I found a stile leading to a second path – this was more like it, I was now on the right side of the creek. Just like the first creek it was very muddy at low tide but it was a much more attractive place so I had a very pleasant walk along the bank before retracing my steps back to the van.
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On the outside of a main road pet food suppliers – I rather liked this

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Knowing that my favourite café at St. Annes would now be closed I’d brought my own supplies but a Macdonald’s car park wasn’t the best of places for a picnic so I drove round to the quiet lane I’d walked along earlier and parked up by the high bank of the first creek. With coffee brewed on my camping stove, a sandwich, a couple of slices of cherry pie and a view of some lovely daffodils on the bank in front of me I had a lovely half hour in the van before my next bit of exploration.
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Leaving the van in the lane I went up onto the main road and walked right along to East Beach and the start of Lytham Green before turning onto the coastal path and heading back in the opposite direction. Looking out to sea I could just see the mast of a sunken yacht in one of the estuary channels; I’ve seen a photo of this on another blog and at high tide it’s almost completely covered in water.
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St. John’s church, East Beach
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The path took me down a few steps onto the beach, skirting the rear car park of a large modern office building, then a few more steps took me up onto another very pleasant green backed by large, and probably expensive, balconied houses on a recently built estate. Here was another casualty of February’s storms, a boat stuck in a tiny creek with its stern well and truly buried in the mud and its cabin roof partially smashed by a large tree trunk washed up on top of it.
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At the end of the green I came to the beginning of the first muddy creek I’d seen, actually looking a bit more attractive than it was further along, and across the salt marsh was the ‘golf ball’ radar tower and buildings of the BAE Systems aerodrome at Warton. The path turned inland there and took me round the edge of the housing estate, bringing me out close to the main road and not far from the lane where I’d left the van. Although the sun had earlier been warm enough for me to dispense with my usual jacket and just wear my lightweight tracksuit zip top a chilly breeze was now starting to blow – I’d satisfied my curiosity about the creeks and the boats and had a picnic in the van, now it was time to go back home.
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As I got to within just a few miles from home the sun was getting lower in the sky, casting its late afternoon glow across the moorland so I couldn’t resist pulling into a lay-by and getting my final shot of the day. With very little traffic on what can usually be quite a busy road it was fairly quiet just then so I spent several minutes just sitting in the van and gazing at the view in front of me.
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Late afternoon sun over Belmont moorland
Back home, and with a coffee at hand, I made a start on downloading my photos and choosing which ones to put on here. I may have been on my own for Mother’s Day but I’d had a lovely afternoon out, and the very nature of where I walked meant that I saw hardly anyone which, even without the current crisis, suits me just fine.

 

A thoughtful gift from a neighbour

Last Sunday evening I was sitting here chatting on the phone to a friend when Michael came in with an envelope in his hand, saying he’d heard a noise at the front door and found the envelope on the floor behind the door. It was a previously used envelope folded over, had my name and a message written on it and contained something solid; the message read “The paint is acrylic so waterproof for the garden – I hope you like it”. ‘It’ was from Fiona, my young next door neighbour, and was a piece of slate with Sophie’s name painted on it in different coloured letters – something simple to mark Sophie’s little corner of the garden but also something very unexpected and so very thoughtful.
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Yesterday I popped into my local Asda to get a few bits and pieces and on my way to the book section I noticed a box of very small animal ornaments on sticks for putting in plant pots. There were foxes, squirrels and just one little rabbit – the rabbit was the cutest so I got it to put in the little pot of flowers in Sophie’s corner.
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The bricks are only a temporary measure to keep the plant in place, once the soil dries out properly I’ll rake it over, maybe plant some grass seed and hopefully (as I’m not a gardener in any way, shape or form) I can turn Sophie’s little corner into something much nicer.

Salford Museum and Peel Park

Salford Museum & Art Gallery started life as Lark Hill Mansion, built in 1809 by Colonel James Ackers and situated in extensive grounds. After 40 years as a private house Salford City Council purchased the building to be used as an educational site, planning to turn it into a public museum and library, and in 1849 Mr John Plant was appointed museum curator and librarian. The building opened as the Royal Museum and Public Library in April 1850, the first free public library in England, and after less than five months was attracting an average of 1,240 visitors per day; extensive refreshment rooms were then opened on the basement floor and two adjoining rooms were added to the library, allowing it to accommodate nearly 12,000 books.
In 1851 three of the East rooms in the museum were knocked into one with proposals to turn the space into an art gallery, then in 1852 a large extension was added to the back of the building, creating a reading room on the ground floor and a museum room above. Between 1854 and 1856 the North and South galleries were opened along with a lending library of 2,500 books, and by 1857 visitor numbers had risen to an average of 3,508 per day. On his death in 1874 Edward Langworthy, a local business man, former Mayor of Salford and an early supporter of the museum, left a £10,000 bequest to the museum and library and this was used to build the Langworthy wing which connected the north and south wings; it was finished in 1878 and officially opened in August that year.
Fast forward almost sixty years and by 1936 the fabric of the original building, the former Lark Hill Mansion, was found to be structurally unstable so it was demolished and replaced by a new wing to match the Langworthy wing. It took two years to complete and was opened in 1938, then in 1957 part of the ground floor of the new wing was turned into Lark Hill Place, a reconstructed Victorian street named after the original Lark Hill Mansion. Although the museum originally had a wide remit when it came to collecting artefacts from different parts of the world it now focuses on social history with a Victorian gallery and hundreds of Victorian objects on display in Lark Hill Place.
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The main entrance to the museum took me through a foyer and into a large and bright reception space with a shop area and a pleasant café beyond it, and on the right was the local history library and a magnificent staircase leading up to the galleries above. After looking round Lark Hill Place, which was my main reason for going to the museum, I went to have a look upstairs; unfortunately a couple of the galleries were closed while the various collections and displays were updated but I had a pleasant wander round the Victorian Gallery, and though I’ve never really liked Victorian paintings I did like the sculptures and the various objects on display.

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In an octagonal glass cabinet was the orrery, a mechanical model of the solar system named after the fourth Earl of Orrery, and though the first one was made for him around 1713 the one on display dates from the early 20th century. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any really clear shots of it as there were reflections and things in the background on all sides, also I was careful to obey the instruction of ”please do not lean on the glass”
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A section of the fabulous ceiling
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In another gallery was the Superlative Artistry of Japan exhibition, a range of works including paintings and ceramics and several contemporary pieces representing food samples. In the middle of the floor was a wire mesh waste basket crammed full of empty cans – it seemed a strange place for visitors to discard their rubbish but it was actually part of the exhibition.

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Sashimi Boat food sample in vinyl chloride resin, courtesy of Maiduru Co. Ltd

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By the wall in a partially closed gallery was a glass case exhibiting a huge fish, a tarpon caught in the West Indies. There was no date on it, possibly due to some of the exhibits being moved and updated, but the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company operated between 1839 and 1932 so the fish would have been caught sometime during those 93 years.
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The museum building is situated on the edge of Peel Park which was once the extensive grounds of Lark Hill Mansion, so after coffee and cake in the very pleasant café I went to look round the park itself. Following a 7-year campaign by Sir Robert Peel and Mark Phillips MP for a public park it was agreed that part of the Lark Hill estate should be used, and after winning a design competition in 1845 Joshua Major & Son laid out the park. Paid for by public subscription it was the first of three Manchester and Salford parks to be opened to the public in 1846. In 1851 the park was the main public venue for the royal visit of Queen Victoria to Manchester and Salford, a visit which was attended by 80,000 people; in 1857 a statue of the Queen was erected in the park then in 1861 a statue of the Prince Consort was erected after his death.
The peak of the park’s popularity came in the 1890s; by then there was a lake, a fountain, a bandstand, a bowling green and cricket pitch, a skittle alley, seating areas and pavilions. It was the place to see and be seen but years later, in the aftermath of both world wars, many people moved away from the area and the park was no longer the focal point of a community. In the years between 1954 and 1967 it underwent a major redevelopment and landscaping then in 1981 it became part of The Crescent conservation area. Unfortunately the park fell into disrepair in the last few years of the 20th century but after receiving a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2016 it underwent a second redevelopment and reopened in 2017.

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Some very early blooms in a sunny corner
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The River Irwell and some of its residents
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Unfortunately I didn’t get to explore the park as much as I would have liked; although the sun was still shining the blue sky of earlier had been replaced by clouds which were getting darker by the minute so not wanting to get caught in a downpour I cut my visit short and made my way back to the station a couple of minutes walk away. It proved to be a good move as I was just crossing the road near the station entrance when I was hit by a heavy shower of hailstones. I didn’t mind too much though, I’d had my few hours out and got plenty of photos, and now having recently seen photos of the park in full bloom I’ll certainly be going back later in the year when the leaves are on the trees and the weather’s good.