Ambling round Anglezarke

Although I’m not sure that ‘ambling’ is the right word as I usually walk at quite a reasonable pace. The latest long walk was done a week ago on a gloriously sunny (and hot) day, and I must admit that if I’d known beforehand just how far I would actually go I probably wouldn’t have chosen that particular route on that particular day.
Anglezarke reservoir is just beyond Rivington, and as I’ve recently explored the Rivington area on two separate occasions and it must be about twenty years since I’d last been round Anglezarke I thought it would make a good dog walk and also add to my daily step count. The reservoir was reached by taking a minor road off the road leading to Rivington village; just before the turn-off for the car park the road went uphill to a lay-by and viewpoint high above the reservoir and as I’d never been up there before I went to take a look.
Next to the lay-by was a very pleasant and well kept grassy area with a couple of benches overlooking the reservoir and several people were chilling out in the sunshine or just sitting looking at the view. And what a view it was; although there was a heat haze on the horizon I could see for miles and it was well worth a few photos.
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Three reservoirs – Lower Rivington, Upper Rivington in the centre, Anglezarke in the foreground
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View over Anglezarke
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From the view point I drove back down the hill to the car park and my walk started from there. A stone wall separated the path from the water but after only a couple of minutes the path veered to the right and took me through the remains of a small quarry. I remembered that the last time I went round there all those years ago the quarry had quite an open aspect but now it was quite overgrown with trees and bushes, although it was still very pleasant to walk through.
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Anglezarke quarry
From the quarry the path went back to the waterside for a short distance before veering off once again and taking me uphill through a densely wooded area which seemed to go on for ever and had no view of the water. After a while the path went downhill and crossed a narrow stream before going back uphill and through another wooded area, though eventually it went downhill once again and I left the trees behind, emerging onto a tract of open grassland with a good view across to the west side of the reservoir.
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A bench with a view
Unfortunately the open land didn’t last long and I was back into woodland again, with a steep bank of trees separating the path from the water. It was so steep in places that it was an almost vertical drop of about 30ft so for safety’s sake I put Sophie back on the lead. Eventually the path brought me out onto a minor road which took me across the north end of the reservoir and disappeared round a bend to who-knows-where. Just on the bend I picked up the path again and I was back through more trees though this time reasonably close to the water, which enabled me to get a shot of the lovely old waterside house I’d just passed the back of.
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After a while the path led up through the trees and I came to a gate into a small field; there was no sign telling me which way to go so I assumed it was straight on, and sure enough at the far side of the field was a kissing gate which took me out onto a farm track. And that’s where I began to feel confused. I have an extremely good memory for places I’ve previously been to, even if it’s been many many years since I last went, and I was sure that on my last walk round there I was able to walk close to the water at that point. I certainly didn’t  remember having to go up through the trees and cross a field to a farm track, and as I walked along the track the unfamiliarity of it convinced me that I was right. There were sheep in the fields though so maybe that was the answer – where once I would  have been able to walk close to the water access is obviously now denied if the land is used for livestock. It was a very pleasant, if rather hot, walk along the track though and I did get a couple of nice photos.
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View along the farm track
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Looking east, with Winter Hill mast top left, Rivington Pike top right
Eventually the farm track turned right but there was a bridle path which went straight on, and a notice on a nearby post told me that ice cream, lollies and bottled water were available at the farm at the end of the path. That sounded good to me, and as I was going that way anyway I thought I may as well stop for some refreshment. Two ladies were operating a stall just outside the farmhouse gates, with the proceeds of any sales going to a local hospice; the ice cream turned out to be various Magnums, which I have a great liking for, so I chose a Classic one and chatted to the ladies while I ate it then bought a small bottle of water to replace the one I’d shared with the dogs while we were walking round.
After Sophie and Poppie had slurped copious amounts of water from the dog bowl near the stall I set off again, down the farmhouse driveway and onto a tarmac lane. A little way along was the high bank and wall of the reservoir so wanting to be back near the water I climbed over the wall bordering the lane and made my way up to the top, where I was greeted by a great view across to the far side.
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Looking west
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At the far end of the wall my way was blocked by a thicket of trees so I had to go back down the bank, scramble over the wall at the bottom and pick up a sheep track of a path which followed the contours of the reservoir on my left. On my right was a large open tract of grassland dotted with trees which were all green except one not far from the path – this had a white trunk and branches which stuck almost straight out, and it was completely bare except for one bit of green growing out from near the top.
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A bit further on the path became separated from the water by a tree-shaded stone wall and not far ahead I could see a group of sheep mooching about with their young ones – thank goodness both dogs were on the lead. Strangely enough though, most of the sheep didn’t seem to be bothered by us and carried on calmly grazing as we went past, though one mum and young one insisted on blocking the path for a while before moving out of our way.
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Yes, they really were so close
A little way beyond the sheep the path ended in a set of crude steps up and over a stone wall and I was back on the road which passed the bottom end of the reservoir and eventually took me back to the car park. It had been an enjoyable walk but in the heat, and with the distance being greater than I’d thought, it had also been a very tiring one so it was a relief to finally get back to the van. There was one thing I wanted to do though before I left the area – I wanted to get a shot of the view from up at the view point but with an empty bench in the foreground, which I hadn’t been able to get earlier as someone was occupying both benches. So I drove back up to the view point and I was in luck – one bench was unoccupied so I got my shot, turned the van round and headed for home.
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Another bench with a view
My walk, anti-clockwise from yellow spot
I’m linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week she’s on an exploration of Rufford Abbey ruins and gardens, and discovering some strange and wonderful sculptures along the way.



Sophie at the vet’s – an update

An updated report on Sophie to say that everything went well at the vet’s yesterday and other than the stitches in her leg she’s absolutely fine. She was taken in at 9am so I could collect her about 2pm but the receptionist rang me at lunchtime to say that they’d had to deal with an emergency so Sophie hadn’t yet had her operation, however another phone call mid afternoon informed me that the op had just been done and I could collect her after 6pm. She was still a bit dopey when she came out of the vet’s but she perked up a bit once I got her home and she was back with Poppie. She has come home with some medication which she has to have once a day with her food and she has to go back next Monday for a check up and to make a date for her stitches to be taken out about ten days from now.
Of course Sophie now has the statutory ‘lampshade’ collar on and I’ve put her in a little pink t-shirt as the sleeve covers her stitches and should prevent Poppie from licking them. The t-shirt has a crown design on the back and says VIP – Very Important Pooch – I got two each for both her and Poppie when I went to the last animal sanctuary open day. The vet who did the op said ‘strictly no running and jumping about’ but try telling that to Sophie – as soon as I pick up the lead to take her out she’s bouncing around like she’s on a trampoline.
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Just out of the vet’s
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Back home, still a bit dopey
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Hopefully Sophie will have the stitches taken out in time for our weekend away the first weekend in July, then the week after that we’ll be away for ten days, probably somewhere by the sea, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather then she and Poppie can enjoy lots of beach walks.

Who ate all the pies?

In my years as a commercial cleaner I’ve come across all sorts off different signs and notices stuck up on the walls in various parts of various buildings. Mainly they are informative or instructive but sometimes amusing, and one which always made me smile was above the staff signing in/out log at the local advice bureau – ‘If you are coming in please sign in, if you are going out then sign out – if you don’t know whether you’re coming or going then join the club!’
The most recent one to make me smile was this one which I found stuck to the wall in the works canteen yesterday –
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Self-explanatory really. I know who recently left the firm, a nice guy in middle management who divided his time between the offices and the works. I can understand him being a bit narked, I think I might be too, but maybe the note was a bit too strongly worded? Whether it was or not, it still amused my quirky sense of humour enough to take a photo of it.

Sophie at the vet’s

This morning I took Sophie to the vet’s for a problem she’s had before, and after an examination and discussion she’s been booked in for a little operation next Tuesday.
Almost five years ago she developed a small hard lump under the skin on her right front leg; it started off as a tiny spot and stayed like that for ages then it grew into a lump as big as my middle fingernail, although it wasn’t giving her any pain. The vet wasn’t sure if it could be cancerous or not so after it was removed it was sent off for analysis. The result came back clear, it wasn’t cancer, and Sophie has been a happy and healthy little dog ever since.
The vet did tell me at the time the official name for the lump, a long name which now escapes me, and he also said that there was an 80% chance that it could come back again, though if it did it would be in the same place. That’s now proved to be correct as she’s recently developed another lump of the same kind under the skin on the same leg, though a bit higher up than before. The vet I’ve just seen – a different one this time – asked if I want the thing sent away to be analysed but I don’t see the point as I already know what it is, so she’s having a straightforward op to remove it next Tuesday and other than having any stitches taken out at a later date that should be the end of it.
Sophie had just turned five years old when she got the first lump, she will be ten in September this year, so it looks like this may be something which re-occurs roughly every five years – I can live with that as she’s such a healthy little dog otherwise. Poppie made me smile when we got back home though – as soon as I let Sophie into the living room Poppie was all over her, sniffing her like mad and inspecting her as if to say “Where the heck have you been?!”
The time spent in the vet’s wasn’t without its moments either. Both dogs had been out in the garden for quite a while before I took Sophie down there, but while I was busy booking in with the receptionist Sophie wee’d on the floor. It was easily mopped up, but as if that wasn’t bad enough I’d only just sat down when she did a poo right in the middle of the waiting area! I suppose the staff are used to dogs having accidents but right then I just wanted a hole to open up in the floor and swallow the pair of us!

Roaming round Rivington

A gloriously warm sunny day a week ago saw me heading off with the dogs and the camera on a two-part walk to explore the terraced gardens and the old castle at Rivington. I left the van in the same car park as when I walked up to Rivington Pike a couple of months ago but this time instead of taking the steep rocky path on the left I took the one on the right. It was still a bit rocky in places but nowhere near as ankle-twistingly bad as the other path, and being more of a gentle incline meant the walk wasn’t as strenuous.
Conceived and financed by soap magnate William Hesketh Lever (Lord Leverhulme), one of the town’s most famous sons and founder of Lever Brothers (now Unilever), the gardens were designed mainly by landscape architect Thomas Mawson, with work spanning a 17-year period up to 1922. Features of the gardens included lawns, terraced pathways, stone staircases, a boating lake, waterfalls, Japanese lake, several summerhouses and pavilions and the Pigeon Tower.
After Lever’s death in 1925 many of the buildings gradually fell into disrepair over the years and were eventually either fenced off or demolished, though the remains of several of those can still be seen. In 2014 the gardens were named by the BBC Countryfile programme as one of Britain’s Best Lost Gardens and in early 2016 the Rivington Heritage Trust secured £3.4million from the Heritage Lottery fund to improve, revitalise and maintain the gardens and their features.
The first thing I came to on my walk was Lever Bridge which crossed the main pathway through the gardens. The design is based on a bridge which Lever had seen while on a trip to Nigeria; with one large arch crossed by six smaller ones it’s known locally as Seven Arch Bridge. A minor path and several steps led to the lower end of the bridge, and the bridge itself consisted of a series of wide shallow stone steps leading up to a steeper flight of steps with a stone summerhouse at the top.
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Seven Arch Bridge
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The summerhouse
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The bridge from the summerhouse
At each side of the summerhouse were steps leading up to the roof but these had been blocked off by railings, so to get to the path above I had to climb up the steep bank nearby. A hundred yards or so to the left I came to what was once the swimming pool/boating lake, though as it wasn’t that big I would have said it was more of a large pond than a lake. It was obviously an area that the conservationists hadn’t yet got round to tackling as the banks were overgrown with vegetation and there were broken tree branches and bits of rubbish floating in the weed-covered water. It didn’t look pretty, and the photo I took was deleted almost immediately.
Beyond the far end of the pond was a triple-arched wall which didn’t seem to serve any purpose, and an arcaded loggia with steps up to a rooftop platform although these, like the summerhouse below, were blocked off by railings. Steps from there led up to another summerhouse and a pavilion and even more steps, steeper this time, finally took me to the Pigeon Tower on the lane at the top. Just beyond the long wall of the Pigeon Tower another path branched off from the lane and took me back down the terraces to a large open area which would once have been the Great Lawn and a tennis court, both overlooked by similar-looking summerhouses.
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The triple-arched wall
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Pigeon tower wall with pigeon holes
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Summerhouse overlooking the Great Lawn
From there I wandered down and along various paths until, at the bottom of a short flight of steps, I found myself overlooking the lake in the Japanese garden down below. The garden was created in 1921-2, inspired by a visit William Lever had made to Japan in 1913, and at one time it featured three Japanese-style pagodas though these have long since been demolished and only their stone bases now remain. The lake looked very attractive and certainly deserved a few photos.
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Overlooking the Japanese garden
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From the lake I gradually made my way via various paths and steps to the main path and headed back to the car park. About halfway along the path split into two with a bench at the junction so I sat for a few minutes just taking in the view. Immediately in front of me was Lower Rivington reservoir, which was where I was now headed, and in the hazy distance right over to the west was the coastline of Formby and Southport; without the haze I would have been able to see Blackpool tower and the Big One at the pleasure beach a bit further north.
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View from the path
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Heading back to the car park
From the car park I drove down through Rivington village and parked at the beginning of one of several tree-lined paths which took me on a pleasant walk to Lower Rivington reservoir and Liverpool Castle. The original 13th century Liverpool Castle on Merseyside was situated just west of what is now the Liverpool One shopping centre and leisure complex, though by the early part of the 18th century most of the fortification had been destroyed or demolished. The Rivington replica was commissioned by William Lever in 1912; it was purely and simply a folly, never intended to be fully completed as it was meant to look like it had been there for many years. Unfortunately construction work stopped when Lever died in 1925 and the castle never reached the stage he’d envisaged.
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Castle entrance with Rivington Pike and Winter Hill in the distance
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The North West tower
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A secret passage – barely wider than my own shoulders
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South West tower
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A wide path took me round the side and the back of the castle and after negotiating some steps and a steep-ish slope I found myself on a sandy but stony ‘beach’ at the side of the reservoir. I walked along until an outcrop of trees barred my way then turned and retraced my steps – and for the second time in just over a week Sophie, the little dog who hates water, surprised me by running in and out of it and playing her own little game. She didn’t swim – maybe that was going a bit too far – but she did go in further than just her paws.
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Lower Rivington reservoir
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Eventually I left the reservoir, made my way back round the castle and took the long wide path back to the van – I’d been wandering round for a total of over two hours and it was time to go home for a brew. When I checked my step counter late that evening I’d completely smashed my 10,000 steps daily target and done a total of 11,894, the majority of them while I’d been roaming round Rivington. It just shows what can be done when you have a camera, two dogs and some lovely sunny weather!
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where colour abounds in a series of village gardens near Boroughbridge in Yorkshire – I just wish I could get my own garden looking like some of those!

A new arrival in the Mouse House

Here’s the latest ebay bargain, it arrived today –
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It’s from the Country Artists collection and titled ‘Harvest Mouse with Corn Cockle’. Much smaller than it looks in the photos it’s actually only three-and-a-half inches tall from the bottom of the base to the tip of the longest corn ear. The base itself is only two-and-a-quarter inches across so I shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a space for it within my ever-growing collection.