This week’s Monday walk was done just five days ago on what was the first really sunny day for quite a while. Any snowfall in my immediate area over the previous three days had arrived during the evenings as a very thin covering which had disappeared by lunch time the following day, though on higher ground it still lingered in various places. Wednesday arrived with sunshine and a bright blue sky and as I had to drop some shopping off at my friend’s in Belmont village, just three miles up the road from home, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and take the dogs for a decent walk while I was up there.
Starting from the Black Dog pub I went up the hill past St. Peter’s church then cut diagonally across the rough grass to the end of the Blue Lagoon. Much of the reservoir’s surface was iced over but in the corner nearest the road 20-odd ducks were gathered in a large patch of clear water. Across the road a kissing gate led onto the village playing field then a narrow path at the far side of the field took me uphill past the local allotments; a bench at the top makes a lovely place to sit for a while and enjoy the view across the moors but it was far too cold for that so I made my way past a row of quaint stone cottages and back to the main road through the village.
A hundred yards or so up the road a short path took me down to Belmont Reservoir dam; at one time it was possible to drive from Belmont across the dam and along the moorland road to the Egerton area or vice versa but when the wall of the reservoir overflow channel was rebuilt a few years ago barriers were put at each end of the dam and it can now only be used by pedestrians and cyclists, although I was the only one there just then.
Just past the far end of the dam I had to negotiate a few quite large patches of ice where water had flowed across the road from the fields but once I was past those I had a mile of pleasant traffic free walking with only the sounds of birds and sheep for company. One sheep – or possibly ram – grazing close to the road had the most wonderful curly horns so I just had to get a photo of it. Eventually I came to a crossroads where turning right would take me back to Belmont village but it was such a nice day I decided to extend my walk via the Blue Lake so turned left instead.
Another half mile of quiet road walking got me to the wide track leading past the Blue Lake with a view of Winter Hill in the distance. With the reflection of the blue sky in the water it would normally have deserved its name but it was now almost completely frozen over with a thin layer of snow covering the ice, so White Lake would have been a better name for it just then.
The track past the lake and a nearby pine forest took me to the moorland road running between Belmont and Egerton and that’s when I got quite a surprise. Normally that road is a very quiet one with just the odd vehicle every so often and I’d only seen a couple of cars when I turned off at the crossroads to go to the Blue Lake, but now all of a sudden it was like the M6 on a busy day with a constant stream of traffic going in both directions, and I had to continually step onto the snowy grass verge to keep myself and the dogs safe.
Turning left at the crossroads to go back down to the village the road becomes narrow with a couple of bends and barely enough room for two cars to pass each other. I’ve walked down there with dogs, both mine and my friend’s, many times with no problems but now with so much traffic it was a nightmare and I was glad when the road widened out as I got closer to the village; with one last shot of a few sheep on a nearby hillside I finally reached the main road and my van at the start of the walk.
Back at home, and talking to my next-door neighbour, I found out why there was such an unusually high volume of traffic on that moorland road. At the time I would have been just over halfway through my walk there had been a bad accident on the main A666 running through Egerton to Darwen and Blackburn and a section of the road had been closed in both directions, with traffic being diverted along the moorland road. In spite of it all though I’d still enjoyed my walk and even though it was cold it had been good for all three of us to get out in the fresh air and sunshine.