WALK NO. 4. SAMLESBURY HALL – ALUM SCAR – HOGHTON & SAMLESBURY BOTTOMS – NAB’S HEAD.
This ramble follows several old byways and is between six and seven miles long. It is easily accessible for those relying on public transport, as a regular bus service operates during the day between Preston and Blackburn.
Both Samlesbury Hall – a Grade 1 listed building – and the grounds are beautifully kept and well worth a visit.
The Lancashire Branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England made this their headquarters for some time. Whilst they were here the Hall gained a Countryside Award, during the 1970 Special European Conservation Year.
In 1975 they gained the Civic Trust Heritage Year Award, “for the restoration of 14th and 16th century manor house and ancillary buildings and their conversion to an environmental study centre”; then in 1981 a Commendation was received during European Architectural Heritage year. The architect was Mr. Keith Scott of Building Design Partnership, Preston.
There is an interesting inscription on one of the Lodge walls:-
Before thou doe thy worke begine Thank God Crave pardon for thy Sin And then thy worke shal prosper so as want shal never breed thee woe. 1614. M. Haye.
Samlesbury Engineering used to be adjacent to the Lodge and Donald Campbell – who achieved so many land and water speed records – brought Bluebird, (his turbo-jet hydroplane), to be fitted with planing shoes and a Metropolitan Vickers Beryl jet engine.
COMMENCE THE WALK BY ENTERING A FARM LANE OPPOSITE THE HALL.
The land on the left was purchased and given to the Hall in order to prevent nearby detrimental development. It was originally designed as a Japanese water garden, complete with pagoda, omamental trees and figures of pottery and bronze. These upper reaches of Huntley Brook were once used to feed the Hallmoat and Manor Farm ice house.
TAKE THE RIGHT-HAND FORK TO HOLSTER FARM AND, ONCE IN THE YARD, USE THE SECOND GATE ON THE LEFT.
Samuel Smith, a saddler and collar-maker, was in business here in the 17th century. In 1699 his annual rent was 6s.8d. payable at May Day and Michaelmas: one day ploughing or 4/-, two hens or 1/-, and two days at the mill caule or 1/8d!
GO ACROSS THE FIELD, FOLLOWING THE LINE OF AN OLD ROAD WHICH CURVES AROUND HOOLSTER HILL, (OR BLACKMOOR – AS IT USED TO BE KNOWN).
At 403 ft (124M), this is the highest point in Samlesbury and there is an Ordnance Survey Triangulation Station at the top.
FOLLOW THE LEFT-HAND HEDGESIDE TO FAR LANES (FURTHER LANE), CROSSING TWO STILES EN ROUTE. (*Walk No. 4B branches to the left, here).
This left-hand ditch forms part of the Samlesbury boundary with Mellor.
TURN RIGHT ONTO THE METALLED ROAD, THEN AT SMITHY END, LEFT DOWN ALUM SCAR LANE.
Both Far Lanes and the nearby Copster Cottages, used to carry the name, Gib-cat.
The farm on the left is now called Greenhurst, but it used to be known as Potters, with the original Greenhurst – now demolished – further across the fields. A private toll bar existed at the gateposts.
In one of the ancient Court Rolls, James Baron and Thomas Stanley were fined 1/- and 6d. respectively, for felling and removing saplings in the Grynhurste. James Greystoke of overderwyne, (from over the Darwen), was also fined 1/- for cutting mature hawthorns. On the left, you can catch occasional glimpses of the impressive, though ruinous, Woodfold Hall, which de?ed demolition in the 1960’s. In bygone days, a clock striking the hours could be clearly heard throughout the estate and beyond the perimeter wall.
To the right is Hoghton Church, with the chimneys of Hoghton Tower also visible on the tree-clad hill. A small farm/pub called Tub House, used to stand opposite the turning to Dawson Fold.
AT TIIIS POINT, GO STRAIGHT ON AND OVER A STILE BY TIIE GATE, WHERE THE PATH BEGINS TO DROP DOWN INTO ALUM HOUSE WOOD, (OR HAG WOOD AS IT WAS APPARENTLY CALLED IN THE PAST).
This is a continuation of Alum Scar Lane, which was still passable for motor vehicles in the early years of the Second World War . Richard de Hoghton opened the alum mine during the 17th century and it was visited by James the First when he stayed at Hoghton Tower in 1617.
CROSS THE BRIDGE INTO PLEASINGTON AND FOLLOW TIIE LANE TO A “T” JUNCTION, WHERE YOU TURN RIGHT INTO CLOSE FARM.
GO THROUGH THE YARD, THEN FOLLOW THE RIGHT-HAND HEDGESIDE FOR A SHORT DISTANCE.
WHEN THE HEDGE TURNS TO THE RIGHT, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ACROSS THE FIELD TO THE STILE IN THE FACING STONE WALL.
WALK DOWN THE SLOPE, ACROSS THE LITTLE BROOK AT THE BOTTOM AND TURN RIGHT ALONGSIDE IT.
This path is on the line of another old lane, which led from Hoghton Bottoms to the alum mine.
KEEP TO THE WOODLAND ON THE RIGHT AND THEN FOLLOW TIIE DARWEN UPSTREAM. THE PATH MOVES TO THE RIVERSIDE BEFORE PASSING BETWEEN PARALEL HEDGES, THROUGH A FARM GARDEN AND OVER THE FOOTBRIDGE BY THE FORD.
A pleasant circular tour of Hoghton Bottoms can be added, by staying on the left bank of the river and following the Darwen iqmllrnm In ll smzill, stone bridge. This leads onto a track which goes through a farmyard and then turns right onto viaduct road. There were two mills in this valley, run by water diverted from the Darwen. This water-course generated tremendous power as it ran from the Top Mill to the Shuttle Shop and then to Lower Mill, before being returned to the river. Workers were drawn from the Bottoms and surrounding country-side.
WALK UP THE ROAD AND TURN RIGHT IMMEDIATELY PAST TALLENTINE FARM, (WHERE THE ROAD BEGINS TO RISE). THE PATH GOES ROUND THE HOUSE, THROUGH A STILE, THEN BETWEEN A HEDGE ON THE RIGHT AND A STEEP BANK ON THE LEFT. CROSS THE DITCH, TURNING LEFT FOR A SHORT DISTANCE, THEN RIGHT, FOLLOWING A LINE OF ELECTRICITY POLES UP A ROUGH GULLY TO THE GATE BEYOND.
It is worth stopping at intervals, to enjoy the view along the valley. Again, the path is following the line of an older track, which continued across the fields to link up with Cripplegate Lane.
TURN RIGHT ONTO THE HARDCORE ROAD, THEN LEFT OVER A STILE, (BY A GATE), AT BOLTON HALL. THIS STRETCH OF ANCIENT BYWAY LEADS THROUGH A SECOND GATE/STILE, BEFORE CURVING AWAY TO THE LEFT, WHERE THE THIRD PAIR STAND BY A WALL.
At this point the panoramic views include Hoghton, Pleasington, Darwen Tower, Mellor, the higher land of Samlesbury, the Fylde and Preston.
WALK BESIDE THE WALL TO A FOURTH STILE, THEN, KEEPING ALONGSIDE THE FENCE, DESCEND INTO SAM- LESBURY BOTTOMS.
Here there are further glimpses of the Darwen over 100 feet below and, as in most woodlands, bluebells carpet the ground in Spring.
AS YOU APPROACH THE VALLEY FLOOR, MOVE AWAY FROM THE FENCE AND JOIN A NARROW TRACK WHICH DESCENDS TO THE SITE OF BULLOCKS FARM AND COTTAGE.
The orchard is still obvious, but there is little sign of the whereabouts of buildings. A water-driven mill once existed here, and a footbridge gave access to Heatley Wood and Nab’s Head, before being washed away about 1830. After this, tenants used stilts to cross the river and, as a precautionary measure, kept a boat tied to the downspout. If the Darwen flooded, exit was possible through a window!
The Samlesbury/Hoghton boundary follows an odd line in this area, but there may be a historical explanation:- Part of the old manorial estate was held by the Hollands,who forfeited their lands to the Crown after the 1322 rebellion. Possibly the neighbouring Hoghtons had taken advantage, because there was a court case between the two families in 1334 after the Ilollands were reinstated. It concerned 20 acres of land, but the outcome is not clear. However, if the Hoghtons successfully defended their claim, this could explain why a strip of Hoghton lies inaccessibly on the Samlesbury side of the Darwen and why liullocks is also included in their boundary.
USE THE STILE BY THE GATE AS AN EXIT, THEN CROSS TO THE RIVER AND FOLLOW IT DOWNSTREAM, PAST THE WEIR, OVER A LITTLE FOOTBRIDGE AND A SMALL FIELD TO GOOSEFOOT LANE, TURN RIGHT AND FOLLOW THE ROAD UP MILL BROW TO NAB’S HEAD.
The mill originally spun cotton and in 1873 there were 16,000 upimlles in use in the Bottoms. Later these premises were eunvcrted for paper-making. Brown paper was manufactured and also hlue sugar bags, for which the workers were paid 1d per gnome for making up! Moving the heavy loads out of the valley was always difficult – the solution lay in hitching up a chain-horse to help them to the top of the steep hill. Now the mill is used for several purposes. Dog biscuits are made where the joiners, electricians, fitters and brickie had their workshops, (and where black mortar was also mixed when required).
Sheet metal work goes on in the beater room, an engineering firm uses the old stoke hole, (where there were four boilers), and wine is now sold where paper was once recycled.
Close by on the riverside, is the site of a 14th century cornmill and weir, malt kiln and turf house; (the bank on the opposite side of the river is still called Kiln Wood ).
At various times there has also been another spinning mill, school, shop and about 14 cottages. In some cases, (for example, Mayfield Terrace and Goosefoot Close), modern property has been built on old foundations.
As you near Nab’s Head, a farm and converted Methodist Chapel on the right are believed to stand on the site of a 14th century tithe barn, which served the area north of the Darwen.
TURN LEFT DOWN NAB LANE AND GO OVER A STEE BY A RIGHT-HAND GATE.
Higher Nab’s Head farmhouse was originally a public house and the present Nab’s Head was the residence of one of the mill owners. It was called Spring Wood and the entrance was in Spring Lane. Just a little further down was the site of Lower Nab’s Head Farm. The spring which rose at Nab’s Head produced a considerable stream, which still had to be forded at this end of Spring Lane until the turn of the century. Almost opposite the stile, (where the hedge moves back from the road), is the site of an old school which was in existence in the 186O’s.
ONCE IN THE FIELD, MAKE FOR THE GATE AHEAD AND THEN WALK DIAGONALLY LEFT TO A FOOTBRIDGE IN THE CORNER. FOLLOW THE LEFT-HAND HEDGE, GOING THROUGH TWO GATES AND THE FARMYARD, BEFORE TURNING BACK DOWN THE LANE TO SAMLESBURY HALL.