St John & St Mark Church, Bury

Walking Group

NEXT WALK: The walk on May 5th will be our Rogation Walk, beating the Benefice Boundary. Start at Christ Church at 9.00am. Approximate finish 4.30pm ish.

  • Meet 9.30am  on the first Saturday of each month unless otherwise specified
  • Contact Paul Sanderson or David Robinson if you are thinking of joining us for the first time (just in case there is a last minute change) or want more information.
  • We aim to walk about 10-12 miles
  • Packed lunch, snacks, drinks, boots and waterproofs recommended.
  • We have also been known to stop at the occasional hostelry...
  • Sometimes we will be walking out of district, no more than 30min away, so we will arrange transport if necessary.

APRIL WALK: Our walk on 14th April was led by Geoff Hamilton and was also an educational adventure of industrial mill ruins of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We were aided by the Bury & District Local History Society book titled ‘The Forgotten Valley’, which tells the story of the rise and subsequent decline of the Cheesden Valley industry and community, along with route maps of the way. We were pleased to be joined for the first time by Roy & Maureen Nuttall’s daughter Marie.

Our starting point was Christ Church Walmersley and we headed up towards Nangreaves before beginning our descent into the Cheesden Valley. After a few miles crossing the moors we approached Owd Betts and Ashworth Moor Reservoir and the nearby ruins of the Four Acre Mill. The banks of a lodge, which helped power a huge waterwheel, is still noticeable around these ruins.

We continued our walk past the former Cheesden Pasture Mill and through the valley alongside the edge of Scout Moor, until we arrived at our lunch stop, which was at the ruins of the Cheesden Lumb Mill.

A large part of the mill facade is still visible next to the waterfall and we paused here for a short while for lunch and to reflect on what would have gone on here over a century ago. I heard stories of disputes between mill owners resulting in water supplies being blocked and charging other owners for the use of their water.   

After lunch we headed towards the former Buckhurst School and into Deeply Vale to see the remains of the mills in this area. One of the noticeable features here was the large oval shape on the ground, which housed a large gas tower. There were also recollections by some of us of the free music festivals that took place in Deeply Vale in the 1970’s & 1980’s. (Do you remember them?)

As we continued below Deeply Vale, we came to the former Washwheel bleachworks. This was the last of the Cheesden mills to close in 1919 and its final job was the bleaching of khaki cotton for the war troop uniforms. The chimney stack is still present today.

Our final stop of the tour was the site of the Birtle Dene Mill before we made the descent back up to the Rochdale & Bury Bridleway and across Walmersley Golf Club and the M66 motorway bridge to make our separate ways home.

Along the way, Geoff pointed out various other features including the routes of former tramways and the locations and remains of what would have been former rows of terraced cottages for the mill workers. It was clear there was a great industrial village here a few generations back.

It was a good time of year to complete this walk as the trees were still bare, so we had some great views of the ruins. It was an enjoyable and informative day and we covered 12 miles overall. The weather was also extremely favourable as well with some nice Spring sunshine for the majority of the day.

Thanks to Geoff for showing us around ‘The Forgotten Valley’.

 Best foot forward, David Robinson

JANUARY 2018 WALK: For our first walk of 2018, we decided to repeat something from around 18 months ago, which was the three reservoirs of Bolton.

This was ideal as it is mainly flat with plenty of paths. It was a lovely winter’s day and we saw bright blue sky from beginning to end, although slightly chilly in the wind.

Six of us met at St. John with St. Mark Hall and drove to Jumbles reservoir, where we begun our walk at 10.00am.

You spend a great deal of time exploring sections of the Witton Weavers Way on this walk and that is where we made our way along for the first part of the morning. The clear skies meant we could enjoy some great views as we crossed the moorland and farming communities. This first section of the walk took us past Turton Tower.

Our elevenses stop was at the Batridge Road car park by the side of the second of our three reservoirs, the Turton & Entwistle, and its huge fir trees. We walked by the side of this reservoir for a while admiring the views. It was observed that a small fir tree had been decorated for the festive season by a local in memory of a loved one.

We left the Turton & Entwistle and in a slight variation on the last time, made an ascent back up to the Witton Weavers Way towards Edgworth. Again we had some great views here of scenes such as Winter Hill.

Our lunch stop was around 1.00pm just before we crossed Entwistle railway station and Strawbury Duck pub to make our way along the woodland footpath to our final reservoir, the Wayoh. We crossed over the bridge at the purification plant here and then made our way back through the village of Chapeltown to Jumbles Country Park and our return home.

A very enjoyable day out, and we had covered approximately 11 miles altogether.         

Best foot forward, David Robinson

DECEMBER WALK: There was definitely a touch of Winter in the air on 9th December when we began our ‘two breweries stagger’. In fact there was even some debate as to whether we would change the route before we started. However we decided to give it a go and we were glad that we did.

Six of us met at Christ Church Walmersley at 11.00am after what had been an icy night, and begun our ascent up Walmersley Old Road towards Nangreaves. There was a lot of snow covering the ground at this point but it was really nice to see the Winter scenes. Something we don’t seem to see too often these days.

Continuing along Bury Old Road we then made our way along the track to Whitelow Road, which we had to tread carefully due to the ice.

Crossing the A56 we then made our way down towards Ramsbottom and our first brewery stop, the Irwell Works, for refreshment.

We left there around 1.00pm and then continued the short distance to the Hare & Hounds for our lunch stop; we had decided to have lunch indoors this time as it beat sitting outside in the cold.

After our lunch we continued along Holcombe Road to the start of the Kirklees Trail. It had begun to snow lightly by this point. We walked the full length of the Kirklees into the town centre, where we concluded our day in the Clarence, the second of the two breweries. We were pleased that we had taken the decision to complete our intended route, despite the weather.       

Best foot forward, David Robinson

NOVEMBER WALK: For our walk in November it was decided to repeat something we had previously done a couple of years back, and that was the route back from Manchester Victoria to Bury. To clarify, we did go the scenic way along parts of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, and not directly down Bury New Road.

Five of us assembled at Bury Metrolink station at 9.00am and caught the tram to Victoria. After pausing at Victoria for a short while to study the iconic Lancashire and Yorkshire tiled railway map and Soldiers’ Gate war memorial we traversed the short distance through Salford to pick up Peel Park by the side of the University. It had been quite a wet start to the day however we were pleased it had brightened up as we walked through Peel Park alongside the River Irwell flood plain for a while.

Later on we made our way up towards Broughton. We were hoping to explore a route that we had not previously taken last time however this was still closed for redevelopment. This will again have to wait so we crossed the Irwell and made our way up towards The Cliff training ground and then through the Salford Trail and Kersal Woods. Sadly the recent blustery weather had brought the leaves down early therefore we were unable to fully appreciate the autumn colours. We paused for elevenses shortly afterwards and continued through Clifton Park.

It is not too long before you arrive in the Borough of Bury and reach Prestwich. We walked past the site of the former Cussons Soap factory on Kersal Vale Road and then onto Drinkwater Park. The Giant Hogweed was noticeable here.

Continuing further we reached the motorway bridge and crossed this to pick up the start of the Outwood Trail, which forms part of the former Manchester, Bury and Rossendale Railway line.

Our scheduled lunch stop was at the old Ringley Road railway station (closed 1953), the platform of which is still in relatively good condition.

After lunch we continued through the mud on the rest of the trail before leaving at Outwood Park, Radcliffe and walking back to the Metrolink. We boarded the tram here back to Bury and then stopped off at the Clarence for some refreshment.

An enjoyable day once again, and we spotted a few sculptures on the way. 

Best foot forward, David Robinson

OCTOBER WALK: As Paul was away this month, Michael volunteered to put the latest walk together for us on 7th October. I had remarked in a previous conversation with Michael that I quite liked Rooley Moor Road when we had last walked along it. Therefore it was decided that we would cover the whole stretch of this route. That is except for the first two miles of the road through the Northern outskirts of Rochdale as it is quite urbanised. We were extremely grateful to Margaret Brennan for offering to drive us to our starting point as this made the transport arrangements much easier. After leaving the car, we walked the short distance to Catley Lane Head.

Rooley Moor Road is an old 13th Century pack horse and carter route, which was originally used for the wool trade. It was widely known as the ‘Cotton Famine Road’, owing to the Rochdale millworkers support for the struggle against slavery during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Lancashire workers joined President Abraham Lincoln’s fight against slavery, and despite a blockade of ports causing a shortage of cotton supplies coming to Rochdale causing the ‘cotton famine’, the men continued their support. Slavery was eventually abolished in America in 1865.        

Shortly after leaving Catley Lane Head you reach a plaque, which was unveiled as part of the BBC’s ‘Black History’ series last year to commemorate these millworkers of the time. We paused for a photograph here.

We continued along the five miles of Rooley Moor Road, and although it was quite cloudy we did occasionally get some good views across the region of towns such as Rochdale, Oldham, Ashton and landmarks including the Etihad Stadium and ski slope in Manchester.

Our route picked up a section of the Pennine Bridleway and took us past Knowl Hill Greenbooth Reservoir, working farms and the sites of disused quarries.

It was occasionally quite blustery so we found a sheltered spot alongside Cowpe Reservoir for lunch around 11.45am.

After lunch we continued the rest of the route to Stacksteads and walked the final mile to Waterfoot along the old railway track bed of the former Rawtenstall to Bacup railway line (closed 1966) including under the quarter mile Newchurch Tunnel.

We arrived in Waterfoot just in time to board the 1.03pm return bus service back to Walmersley. We had covered around 7 miles and the four of us who went enjoyed the day.

Best foot forward, David Robinson

SEPTEMBER WALK: The weather was perfect for our repeat of the July walk. See below for details of the route.

AUGUST WALKOn 12th August, Paul volunteered to lead our walk for us, and once again this was to be one of his ‘reccies’ for the HF group in November. It was also an opportunity to take in four Churches, graveyards and war memorials all in one day.

We had a good number, with eight people turning up. Therefore we took two cars and drove to the car park at Padiham Town Hall.

We set off from here about 10.00am and picked up the banks of the River Calder, which we walked along for a while before entering some woodland on the way towards the Burney Way. We spent some time along here and had good views of Gawthorpe and Pendle Halls. This eventually led us onto the Pendle Way and overlooked the centre of Burnley. We walked along the Pendle Way until we arrived at the village of Higham. The ‘Four Alls Inn’, est 1798 is a familiar attraction in this area however we did not stop here. Instead we paused for elevenses at the first of our Church stops. This was the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Higham.

After our break and reflection we continued for a couple of miles through the farming communities, across Sabden Road towards Priddy Bank Farm. We then made our way towards the village of Simonstone and the second of our Church pauses, St. Peter’s CE Church. This was undergoing renovation, and due to reopen on 3rd September, so we sat across the road from here and enjoyed lunch.

Due to the temporary closure of this Church, services were taking place at the nearby St. John the Evangelist Church in the village of Read, which was our next stop for reflection. It was observed that the footpath leading to this Church is called Churchwarden’s Way.

Crossing Whalley Road we continued towards Gooseleach Wood, crossing the site of a dismantled railway line, part of the Great Harwood Loop Line, closed in the late 1950’s. We once again picked up the banks of the River Calder and crossed the Altham Bridge towards the village of Altham. Here we paused at the last of our Church stops, the CE Church of St. James, Altham and wandered around it’s grounds and studied some of the headstones. This particular Church has a plaque and memorial inside to recall the local Moorfield Colliery disaster in 1883. It was noted that 68 people died in this single disaster, which was more than the 65 people who had lost their lives during the First World War across the whole of the three villages we had visited.

Leaving here we continued along the River Calder and back towards Padiham, on the way stopping at the Padiham Memorial Park, which includes the First and Second World War memorial.

By the time we got back to the cars at 4.30pm we had walked approximately 11.5 miles. The later finish was due to our stops at the various Churches and memorials along the route. Although we did not go inside any of these Churches we enjoyed the time reflecting and studying the different styles and architecture of the buildings. The weather also fared quite well for us and once again, another enjoyable day.  

Best foot forward, David Robinson

JULY WALK: Paul volunteered to lead our walk on 1st July, which was this time a more local affair.

Our meeting point was St. John with St. Mark Church Hall at 9.30am where four of us gathered. We made our way along Arley Avenue, down the steps and along the River into the Burrs, where we spent some brief time exploring the country park, which was full of life at this time of year.

We left the Burrs via Woodhill Road and walked to the end of here to Crostons Road and past the site of the former gas works in Elton.

We then crossed over to Wellington Street and past the Royal Mail office, making our way to the former Manchester, Bolton and Bury canal towpath. We walked along the path for a short distance before crossing Hinds Lane and passing what was the site of the Farmer’s Arms, later Benny’s nightclub. This area was part of the cross-country route at Bury Church High School when I was there.

We climbed up to Elton Reservoir where we stopped for elevenses. It was turning into a lovely summer day at this point and we had some great views from the Reservoir of the Pennines and Blackstone Edge. After our break we picked up the route of the former Bolton and Bury railway line and then headed towards Brookbottom Farm. We followed a track which eventually led us to St. Gabriel’s High School and then to the Bury Grammar Schools on Bridge Road.

Crossing under Bolton Street we then made our way back into the Burrs for a brief lunch stop, and as we were earlier than expected, a drink in the Brown Cow. We made our way back to the Church Hall through the Burrs, which Paul reminded us also formed part of his cross-country course at Seedfield High.

We covered about 9 miles, and it was a good warm up for Paul who was due to begin his Pennine way venture the following week. More news about that at the Open Group in November!

Best foot forward, David Robinson

JUNE WALK: Michael Ryan volunteered to lead our walk on 10th June, and I asked if we could do a rerun of a previous outing he had lead in March 2016 (because I had missed it first time). The walk took in Stubbins, Holcombe and beyond, and included guided notes with a brief history of some of the buildings and features we passed.

It was an extremely wet start to the day when we huddled in the car on Parkinson Street at 9.30am. However as it was the intention to drive to Nuttall Park, it had actually improved when we began our walk, so although not perfect, we did actually fare quite well for the remainder of the day.

After leaving Nuttall Park we walked a short distance to the Irwell Valley Way to Chatterton and Stubbins and journeyed through a tunnel under the East Lancashire Railway, which was also the site of the former Stubbins Railway station. We passed the former mill buildings in the village including the Stubbins Vale Mill. As Gill and I had not previously seen this, we climbed up the banking to the mill’s Tenter Tower. It was worth the effort to see this former cloth store (c1866).

We continued through the National Trust’s Buckden Wood, crossing the river Irwell at times and had our elevenses stop. After our rest we journeyed along the edge of the Holcombe Moor track towards the foot of Holcombe Hill and Holcombe Old Road.

We the dropped down to Bolton Road and along here we discussed a cottage with a plaque making reference to the Female Union Society (c1824) associated with votes and political rights for women. Leaving Holcombe Brook by the Pot Green conservation area we headed towards Summerseat and discussed the nearby proposed Garden City development.

We headed into Summerseat towards the Waterside Bridge and picked up the track back towards Nuttal Park for journey home.  

It was an interesting and informative day lead by Michael, and again I saw areas that I have not previously seen. Not bad really, to say we thought we would never get started at 9.30am!   

Best foot forward, David Robinson

Prayer Walk in May: It is now customary for the walking group to use the first Saturday in May for the annual Benefice walk around the borders of our two Parishes. Traditionally known as ‘Beating the Bounds’, this was an event that we would have been able to complete on a Sunday afternoon when we were two separate Parishes and it was common for this to take place on Rogation Sunday, before Ascension Day. Now a Saturday is required for the whole 13 miles, and like last year this gave us the perfect opportunity to pray for the Benefice, the people who live in it and the activities which take place, in what is such a diverse area. At certain landmarks, which are of particular significance to the Benefice, we stopped for quiet prayer and then recited the Lords Prayer.

We assembled at the Lych Gate at 9.00am when we prayed for the Parish of Christ Church and for the day ahead. Vicar Dave had arranged to meet us there to trigger the starter gun. From there we walked down Walmersley Road to Parkinson Street, when at 9.30am we prayed for the Parish of St. John with St. Mark. We were pleased to be joined here by Derek Ryan for the first time, who accompanied us for part of the walk.

We continued through the Burrs Country Park and Woodhill Road, across the Irwell before arriving at the fire station at 10.20am when we prayed for the work of the emergency services in the town.

Ten minutes later we arrived at Tesco and paused at the Brunswick Memorial site for reflection. We also used this opportunity to pray for commerce.

We continued past the site of the old St. John’s Church on The Rock and then in a slight deviation from past years we walked to the Salvation Army Centre, which is now the site of the former St. Mark’s Church and School. Here we prayed for all religious buildings that serve the Benefice, both past and present.

We continued along Chesham Road, past the former home of the ‘Just William’ author Richmal Crompton, and stopped for elevenses near Walker’s Field, where we held up prayers for recreation.

From here we continued past the golf club and Birtle Edge House, the childhood home of the late Bury born comedian Victoria Wood.

We arrived at Buckhurst for our scheduled lunch stop, only to discover another party had commandeered our bench (how inconsiderate)!! However as it was a little chilly we decided to walk on further across the farming communities towards the Lord Raglan, where we had lunch near the car park. Here we prayed for the whole of Bury MBC, ideal, as you can see the whole of the town from this point.

After lunch we continued towards Bass Lane and into Summerseat. We were intending on turning right off Hill Street and crossing the Waterside Bridge however a suggestion was made to do something a little different and head left instead, which resulted in some slightly strange goings-on near the Robin Road area of Summerseat (If you wish to know more then please ask a member of the walking group who was there).

We picked up our regular route, past the garden centre, and back into The Burrs. We arrived at the country park at 3.00pm and said our closing prayer for the leisure and entertainment industry. We ended the day with refreshment in the Brown Cow.

Thank you to all who participated in this walk in anyway and to those who were following us in Spirit at home during the various stages of the day. It was a very enjoyable day and made us appreciate the Benefice that we have.

Best foot forward, David Robinson