WALK N0. 10. CHURCH BOTTOMS – DEAN LANE – SOUTHBANK.
The walk starts at Church Bottoms and goes for about three and a half miles through a very historic part of Samlesbury.
There is the 12th century Parish Church, – which Robert Bruce raided in 1.322 – Lower Hall, (the home of the lords of Samlesbury until the destructive arrival of the said Bruce) – and the Shrine of St. John Southworth at Southbank.
This is one of the areas in Samlesbury where the roads have altered beyond all recognition. Evidently, the old way from Samlesbury Church crossed Potter Lane at Church House Farm and then continued up the steep Church Brow to a hamlet at the New Hall.
At the junction, Potter Lane passed through a cluster of dwellings called Church Houses, (which included the inevitable beershop) and continued along to Wilcock’s and Gregson’s farms. Here the paved road had several cottages along its length and probably a lane branching left into Cuerdale. At one time the stream was dammed for some type of mill and Church House provided accommodation for horses and traps during Divine Service.
Preston New Road was opened in 1826, cutting across Church Brow. In the 196O’s it was dualled and the narrow Church Road (Vicarage Lane), was widened and re-aligned.
PROCEED ALONG POTTER LANE FOR ABOUT THREE QUARTERS OF A MILE.
St. Leonard’s-the-Less is well worth a visit and interesting features include box pews, funerary armour and a witch’s grave. A lych gate was dedicated in 1926 – the new access being a memorial to the fallen of the First World War.
There is a letter of 1685 which requests permission to teach a few children in the chapel, because the Schoolmaster’s cottage was very small and smokey.
The next turning used to be known as Ferry Lane and it led to the boathouse, where passengers could be taken across into Brockholes. Two ferrymen served the community in 1379 and it was kept in regular use until the Preston New Road and a safe bridge were constructed. Understandably, the boathouse too, also served as an alehouse!
Potter Lane may have derived its name from James Potter and his family, who kept the boat in the early 17th century. In 1741, John Potter’s name appeared on the Royal Arms in the church and on the sundial in the graveyard.
The four cottages in Church Gates have also been known as The Colncy and, a little further along, one or two old clay pits can be seen on the right-hand rise.
Seed House is a very attractive 17th century dwelling constructed of the red sandstone which is typical of many old buildings in this area. lt may have been quarried from the rocky river bed, because it is used on both sides of the Ribble.
At the end of the wooded escapment on the left-hand bank, a weir measures the qualitive and quantitive contents of the river. The avenue used to be a private road to Lower Hall; (which lies in a magnificent horseshoe loop of the Ribble), whilst Potter Lane curved to the right and crossed Bezza Brook a little higher upstream than at present.
During penal times – (according to local lore) – a lighted lamp plaeed in the dormer window of the now ruinous old Hall, indicated an iminent Mass. It would be clearly visible from the end ol’ the avenue, where the road forked.
St. Chad’s chapel was at the back and the Mission was served by llraneiscans. Until 1870 the position of the altar, look-out place and priest’s hiding hole were still to be seen. Another legend tells about a priest, who was disturbed during a Mass and escaped by swimming the flooded river in his vcslments. There was also supposed to be a picture which was slashed whilst searchers were looking for a fugitive.
Occasional Manor Courts were still held here as late as 1678.
CROSS BEZZA BROOK AND BEAR RIGHT
On the left can be seen an aqueduct, which carries Manchester’s water supply from Thirlmere. A single conduit was constructed in the late l9th century and three more were added during the years 1907 and I924. (This footpath passes twice over the line of the pipetrack.)
A skirmish between Royalist and Roundhead forces is believed to have taken place here during the Battle of Ribbleton Moor, in 1648.
AT THE NEXT FORK TURN RIGHT, CROSSING BEZZA BROOK ONCE MORE AND FOLLOWING DEAN LANE TO THE END.
There are several old names associated with this area:- Dryster Hill or Dean Barn Croft, Bruntnan/Bruntuam and Cross Meadow. As you climb, extensive views of the Bowland Fells begin to open up behind, with Bezza Lane running along in the foreground.
TURN RIGHT AT THE JUNCTION OF DEAN LANE AND WHALLEY ROAD.
Directly across the major road is a further length of Dean Lane, which used to lead to Sowerbutts Green. By using this path, you can link up with walk number 9 near Lower Huntley Wood.
TURN RIGHT AGAIN INTO PRESTON NEW ROAD, PASSING THE TRAFALGAR AND GOING OVER A STILE BY THE BUS STOP, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE CAR PARK.
The Trafalgar is a modern appellation – locally it is still known as the Five Barred Gate; a reminder of times when the road between Walton-le-Dale and Mellor Brook was controlled by a Turnpike Trust and this was a toll bar. Originally, it appears to have been called the New Inn and had a small amount of land and a brewhouse attached.
Once over the stile, you are into an extension of Spring Lane, which formed a cross roads with Cuerdale Lane/Whalley Road.
AT THE NEXT GATE, TURN LEFT, (DON’T GO THROUGH), AND FOLLOW THE HEDGE TO A STILE BEHIND THE GARAGE.
Beyond the gate is the site of Turner Fold which, together with a couple of cottages, lay on a lane which branched to the right, passed behind the Five Barred Gate and then joined Dean Lane. A length of this is still apparent and it may be that referred to in 1608 when William Walmsley of Turner Green was ordered to repair Detarne Lane, so that it was sufficient and passable for all manner of carriages. (Failure to do so would result in a ten shilling |5()p| fine)! Alternatively, it may have been the one which ran down to Seed House.
In 1694 Christopher Duckworth was granted permission for his home at Turner Fold to be used for Quaker Meetings.
PASS BEHIND THE GARAGE , (WHERE ANOTHER SHORT SECTION OF LANE IS OBVIOUS), OVER A THIRD STILE, ‘l’IIEN ACROSS A FIELD CORNER AND ALONG THE RIGHT-HAND HEDGE.
At this point, another path goes off to the right, following the hedgesides down to Seed House. Seed Park is quite a large area of woodland, which used to have sporting rights attached. The ruinous gamekeepers cottage can be seen on the right across the fields.
It has been surmised that the old column at Bezza may be Alit Gregsons Cross which, it is believed, stood where these two old ways converge. The Gregson family had a pew in Church and also gave thier name to a farm by the river. Again the old road is faintly diseernable and there is the site of a sand pit on the left.
GO OVER THE STILE, ENTER THE SUNKEN LANE AND FOLLOW IT TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF ST. MARY AND ST. JOHN SOUTHWORTH.
A brcak in the banking indicates a path down to the brow on Preston New Road which is called Mowcroft.
On the other side of the dual carriageway, the footpath continues over a stile to the Memorial Hall, across from which used to be a way down to Darwen Side Farm.
STILL FOLLOWING THE ANCIENT ROUTE, PASS ALONGSIDE THE CHURCH HALL, (WHICH WAS ONCE USED AS A SCHOOL ROOM) AND TURN RIGHT AT THE END OF THE PRESBYTARY GARDEN.
This little church receives hundreds of visitors – many from alauatl.
There is a shrine here to St. John Southworth and the Sanctuary cross is made from timber which was part of the old staircase at Lower Hall.
The parish registers have some quite irrelevant entries, e.g. a recipe for rheumatism and for ye fatal disease in calves called ye stroke! Another one records a wager that Fr. Alexis Whalley, (who had served at Lower Hall for fifteen years), would not leave before Christmas. Fr. Alexis wagered that he would and won! However, he was confused over the number of days in November and registered a Baptism on the thirty first. His successor inserted a correction, stating that November only has thirty days!
A GATE LEADS INTO THE FIELD AND THE PATH GOES DOWNHILL, FOLLOWING THE LEFT-HAND HEDGESIDE.
From this gate there is a pleasant view of the flood plain and legend has it that the Ribble Valley was dedicated to St. Leonard. This could explain the chain of churches along its length, which have this particular dedication.
An unusual record of 1775 states that the Ribble suddenly stopped flowing about five miles above Preston and people could cross dry-shod. Several hours later the water flowed again in a strong current.
AT THE BOTTOM, THERE IS ANOTHER GATE ONTO POTTER LANE, WHERE A LEFT TURN BRINGS YOU BACK TO THE STARTING POINT.