After a beautifully sunny morning I set out at lunch time to take Sophie and Poppie on a long circular walk from the Last Drop Village, stopping off to explore the grounds of Turton Tower en route. The first part of the walk was almost the same as the walk I did a month ago, leaving the Last Drop car park and following the path across the fields and through the golf course, but I hadn’t gone far when Sod’s Law decreed that several grey clouds would appear to intermittently block out the sun and turn many of my photos from bright to dull.
When I got to the pond halfway round the course I turned left this time instead of right and followed the meandering path past various greens to the boundary fence and a farm gate. Beyond the fence was open grazing land and half a dozen sheep were mooching about picking at the short grass; one of them looked up briefly as we walked past but the others ignored us and just continued mooching and munching.
Eventually I came to another fence and a gate and another choice of left or right; I knew that going left would take me miles out of my way so I went right and followed the lane down and over the castellated railway bridge to Turton Tower. The bridge was built in 1847 following the construction of the Bolton to Blackburn railway line through the grounds of Turton Tower ; James Kay, who owned the tower at the time, commissioned two footbridges across the line, specifying that they had to be medieval in style to be in keeping with the rest of the estate, and this particular one incorporates a viewing tower.
Turton Tower itself is a country manor house, a Grade I listed building and ancient monument ; it was originally built in the early 15th century by William Orrell as a simple two-storey stone tower but it was later significantly altered and timber extensions added, and by the Tudor and early Stuart period it had been transformed from a defensive fortress into a comfortable family home. During the 16th century two cruck framed buildings were added and a later extension at the front of the house created the imposing entrance ; a third storey was added to the tower itself and the original windows were replaced with large mullioned and transomed windows. During the 17th century the cruck buildings were clad in stone and the place then remained unchanged until the 19th century.
After falling into decline during the Georgian era the tower was sold in 1835 to James Kay, the inventor who had developed a successful wet spinning process for flax in 1824. He and his family restored the tower, adding a mock Tudor extension and many Victorian renovations including a Dutch gable facade. In 1903 the tower was bought by Sir Lees Knowles, an MP, and after his death in 1929 his widow gave the house and grounds to what was then Turton Urban District Council to use for the benefit of the public – up until 1974 the place was used as council offices but since then it has been a museum.
The tower is open from Wednesday to Sunday inclusive and the current admission price for adults is £6 but having the dogs with me meant I couldn’t go in so I’ll save that for a return visit later in the year. The next part of my walk was along the main road for quite a distance past a stretch of open countryside before turning off and heading back towards the Last Drop Village. The grey clouds were breaking up and the sun was putting in a much better appearance so I decided to have a wander round the hotel gardens before going back to the van, and I was surprised and delighted to find a couple of ducks sunning themselves at the side of the garden pond.
Those were to be my last shots of the day, it was time to head back home for a much needed coffee. Given how glorious the morning had been it was a shame that the clouds had decided to appear while I was out, but it hadn’t interfered with my photo taking too much and at least I’ve now got a good excuse to do it all again another day.
Linking up again with Jo’s Monday Walk where this week the architectural delights of Portugal’s Jerez are waiting to be explored and more than one serving of cake is waiting to be eaten. Time to put the kettle on now and read where the other Monday walkers have been exploring.
Last night at 7.15pm I went to my friend’s round the corner, it was a dry but cold evening and there was nothing out of the ordinary anywhere, however when I came back round the corner an hour later I found a substantial amount of water running along the gutter past my house and disappearing down the drain a few feet away. Looking along the street I could see that the whole road was awash with water – it hadn’t been like that an hour before so being intrigued I went to see where it was coming from.
Just along the street is an unadopted back lane with a row of five garages set sideways-on to the road and the water was coming out of the ground in three places just in front of the first garage – presumably it was a burst pipe, but whatever it was it was certainly leaking good style. The water was running right across the road, turning the whole of that part of the street into a river before splitting into two, with some of the water running round the next corner and the rest flowing past my house and into the nearby drain.
I did speak briefly to the husband of one of the neighbours round the corner and he said he’d just phoned United Utilities to report it – I don’t know if it would be classed as an emergency but just before midnight someone finally turned up to fix it. They obviously hadn’t been very successful though – maybe it needed more than two men with a couple of torches and a spade! – as when I went to work at 6.30 this morning the water was still flowing, but at least they’d managed to get it so it was only coming out of the ground in one place and not three.
No doubt someone else will be along later today to block off half the street, dig a big hole and sort out the problem properly but meanwhile all those gallons of fresh water are just flowing along the street and running straight into the drains – what a waste!
After months of searching both on the internet and in various camping stores I’ve finally ordered a new tent in readiness for my forthcoming Easter break. Finding a tent exactly the same as my old one has proved impossible so I’ve gone for the next best thing; it’s a Kampa Burnham 4 in blue (my preferred colour) and although brand new it’s theoretically three years old as that model came out in 2015 – it’s since been discontinued but it’s the only one I could find which matched my criteria and is similar to my previous tent.
The most important ‘must haves’ for me were a good head height, a bedroom at each side and a fully integrated groundsheet, and although my searches have found several of the right style they’ve all been lacking in one of the most important points, usually the integrated groundsheet. After my very wet experience last September with the tent given to me by a friend, and which doesn’t have an integrated groundsheet, I would never now consider camping in a tent without one, but although I’ve been able to find tents 6-berth or larger with integrated groundsheets it seems that, with the exception of the Kampa Burnham, smaller tents of that style don’t have them.
So the Kampa Burnham has been ordered and all being well should arrive sometime next week. I got a good deal on it too – the price on the store’s website had already been reduced by £50 but I found a voucher code giving £15 off orders over £150 so that brought the price down below my budget. And with free delivery thrown in I really feel like I’m on a winner here.
With panorama windows (with blinds), interior storage pockets and a wet weather canopy it has a couple of ‘extras’ which my previous tent didn’t have so I’m really looking forward to trying it out – and I just hope I get to love it as much as I loved my old one.
After a promising sunny start early this morning the sky had turned grey by 10am so as I didn’t consider it nice enough to take the dogs for a long countryside walk I decided to go on a local voyage of discovery instead, to a place less than two miles from home and where, even though I’ve lived in this town all my life, I’ve never previously been to.
Firwood Fold is a small hamlet tucked away down a quiet cobbled lane behind one of the main roads on the north east outskirts of the town. It was the town’s very first conservation area but is best known for being the birthplace of Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule and probably Bolton’s most famous son. The hamlet consists of former farmworkers’ dwellings and outbuildings, with the earliest ones dating back to the 16th century and other buildings added in the 17th and 18th centuries. Number 15 was built using the cruck construction method and with wattle and daub walls; it was later clad in stone but the original oak truss can still be seen and it’s believed to be the oldest inhabited building in Bolton. Number 5 originally served as the school and had two entrances, one for the school itself and the other for the teacher’s house, while number 6 was originally a pig house but is now a residential building. Unfortunately photograph taking round the hamlet was rather limited as several cars were parked in various places and I didn’t want them in the shots.
Samuel Crompton was born at Number 10 in 1753 and lived there with his family until they moved to Hall i’ th’ Wood five years later. A stone plaque on the front wall of the cottage commemorates Crompton’s birth and the cottage itself is the only building in Bolton with a thatched roof, although looking at the current state of the thatch I would hope it’s in better condition than it actually appears to be.
At the bottom of Firwood Fold itself a short flagged path took me down to a dirt track with a signpost pointing to some fishing lakes – water meant possible photos so I decided to explore a bit further, however I hadn’t anticipated part of the track being muddy and my white trainers were soon rather black. Of course if I’d thought that might happen I would have worn my wellies but I hadn’t originally set out with the intention of going down any dirt tracks.
The first pond I came to reminded me of an Amazonian swamp with trees growing out of the water at all angles but just beyond it were two other lakes which were far more open. Ducks, geese and coots were very much in evidence and on the smaller lake a couple of mute swans came gliding up to say hello, though they weren’t impressed by the dogs and both of them literally had a hissy fit.
At the far side of the lakes was a vast area of open land which I knew to be part of Seven Acres Country Park; that was another area which I’d never explored but I would leave that for another time as there was somewhere else I wanted to see. Retracing my steps back through Firwood Fold I retrieved the van from where I’d parked it at the top of the lane and drove to Hall i’ th’ Wood less than a mile away.
Hall i’ th’ Wood (literally meaning ‘hall in the wood’) is a large timber-framed house set in several acres of park land and dating back to the first half of the sixteenth century. One of the most important buildings in Bolton it was originally the residence of a family of wealthy merchants but is best known as the home of Samuel Crompton and it was where, in 1779, he devised the spinning mule, an invention which had a profound impact on the fortunes of Bolton and North West England.
Crompton eventually moved out of Hall i’ th’ Wood and in the late 19th century the building fell into disrepair, though it was rescued from ruin by Lord Leverhulme, a local businessman and founder of the company now known as Unilever. After carrying out extensive renovations he presented the building to Bolton Council in 1902 and it now functions as a museum exploring the life and works of Samuel Crompton. Unfortunately greatly reduced opening times don’t include Sundays so being unable to access the building or its immediate grounds I had to be content with a few shots from the lane, though after looking it up on the internet it seems like a place which is interesting enough to go back to on a nicer day and when the building is open.