After weeks of interminably wet and often cold weather the last few days locally have been dry and gloriously sunny so I’ve finally been able to take advantage of it and get out with the dogs for a decent local walk. A two-and-a-half mile drive north took me to the Last Drop Village – under normal circumstances I would walk all the way from home but my recent bout of Aussie flu has been detrimental to my energy levels so I didn’t want to tire myself out too much. Leaving the van in the car park behind the village I set off across the nearby fields; way over on my left was Winter Hill with its tall tv mast and on my right, separated from the field by a line of trees and a footpath, was the edge of Turton Golf Club.
At the far side of the field a kissing gate took me onto a rough path through an area of scrubland which in turn led onto a tarmac lane which ran past the old Cox Green quarry. The quarry was used from 1840 to provide sandstone to build houses for local mill workers, and though I remember it still being operational when I was a child (we could hear the blasting from where we lived) I can find no information on when it actually closed down. The tarmac lane was originally used by quarry vehicles but with the closure of the quarry it was blocked off and eventually pedestrianised, making a very pleasant walk along its length. Although the quarry itself is fenced off the place has seen a few tragedies over the years as there’s more than one body been found at the bottom of the 60ft drop. In recent years the quarry and its surrounding land have been sold – who by and who to isn’t known but the steep rock faces are now used by various clubs for rock climbing.
Eventually the lane turned into a country road with modern houses on one side, fields on the other, and I took a path which skirted round the forested edge of the quarry. A narrow stream, overgrown with vegetation, ran between the path and the fields but with all the recent wet weather it had overflowed in a couple of places and spread itself right across the path; fortunately I had my wellies on but looking at all that water I would probably have been better with a wetsuit and flippers. Sophie wasn’t too keen on paddling all the way through it but we got to the end eventually and had the choice of left or right – I went left along the edge of the sheep field then turned onto the path through the golf course.
I’ve always enjoyed taking that particular route and it was nice to see that in spite of all the recent cold wet weather the gorse was already coming into flower in the sunnier parts of the golf course. Eventually I came to the pond and found that too had overflowed onto the path at one point, although it wasn’t a great lot and it was easy enough to walk round the puddle. A right turn took me gradually downhill past various greens to where a stream ran under the path and at the top of the next incline was the club house and its car park with far reaching views over the countryside.
Across the cattle grid at the entrance to the club car park and a little way along the lane a stile took me into a field bordering another part of the golf course. A couple of ponies were grazing peacefully, taking no notice of us as we passed them and not even looking up when I stopped to take their photo, then across the field a kissing gate took me onto the path leading back to the Last Drop village.
Not actually a true village the Last Drop was originally converted from a group of derelict 17th century farm buildings known as Orrell Fold, belonging to successive generations of the Orrell family. In 1930 a well known farmer and racehorse owner who lived locally bought the farm for stabling and exercising his horses but the unoccupied buildings gradually fell into disrepair and eventually in 1963 the farm was sold. The new owner was a man of considerable foresight and he soon began the task of creating the Last Drop Village out of the derelict buildings. The first building to be completed in 1964 was the restaurant and during a celebratory meal the owner’s friends offered him ‘the last drop’ of a bottle of wine, and it was that which gave the place its name. The village today is home to a hotel, spa and leisure suite, banqueting suites and conference rooms, a quaint tea shop, the Drop Inn, several independent small shops and a gallery, and is also a very popular wedding venue.
With the last few shots taken I briefly thought about getting a much needed coffee from the tea shop but I couldn’t take the dogs in with me and in spite of the sunshine it was too chilly to sit outside so I made my way back to the van and headed for home instead. It had been a very enjoyable walk, far enough to give Sophie and Poppie some decent exercise but not so far that I got tired, so I can safely say that all three of us were happy.
I’m linking up with Jo’s Monday Walk this week where there are some wonderful views from high up on the walls of the castle in Serpa, Portugal. Time to put the kettle on now and see where the other ‘Monday walkers’ have been exploring.