WALK NO. 9. HALFWAY HOUSE – HOLE BOTTOMS – SPRING LANE – ASPDEN FOLD.
This is about two and a half miles round and uses the routes of old byways for quite a distance. The manager of the Halfway House – or Speed the Plough, as it used to be called – has kindly agreed to walkers using the car park.
*** (Please ask permission as the original book was written many years ago) ***
TURN LEFT ONTO PRESTON NEW ROAD AND WALK ALONG THE FOOTWAY FOR ABOUT HALF A MILE.
Immediately on the right is Huntley Lane, an extension of the original line of Nab Lane. At one time, Park Lane ran past the Hall, met Huntley Lane near the old Huntley Woods Farm and then continued to Huntley Gate, fording the brook en route.
There has also been another road behind Samlesbury Hall Cottages, running through to Myerscough Smithy and Rigby Fold. Huntley Woods Farm was demolished in 1951 to make way for an extension to the runway. New buildings were added to a cottage on the other side of the airfield and the land is now farmed from there.
Huntley Close is mentioned in the Court Rolls of 1608 and a dead lion was once found in the wood after the Blackbum Easter Fair of 1865!
Further along the A677, there is a double bend where the road avoids the con?uence of the two Huntley Brooks and a smaller stream which flows through Knipe Wood. Though this woodland is adjacent to such an excessively busy trunk road, (and is used for archery activities), it is surprisingly peaceful. A footpath on the right leads across to Court Lodge Farrn on Whalley Road.
AFTER THE DOUBLE BEND, USE THE ENTRANCE ON THE LEFT WHICH LEADS DOWN TO THE HERMITAGE.
This is a building of considerable age, which used to be known as T h’Engine ’0use, or Th’Engine ’0le.
The barn, (which still had lime and horsehair mortar), has been converted into living accomodation and the cellar filled in. In the side wall is at small bricked-up place where, it is thought, a drive shaft ran from a water wheel powered by the Hole Brook.
There has been a weir here in the past and there are the remains other footbridgcs – both at the back of the house, (where a path came from Preston New Road) and lower downstream. This is the place called Two Briggs, (Bridges), to which Grace Sowerbutts – a chief witncss – referred to in the trials of the Lancashire Witches.
Sharples Farm is nearby and Roger Shaples’ Cross is mentioned in I576. lt was reported to be on Dean Lane, nearly opposite the Hcrmitagc and close to the plank bridge. (Map 9 shows the line of this strctch of Dean Lane.)
(*) GO THROUGH THE GATE AND OVER THE BRIDGE TO A RIGHT-HAND STILE. TAKE A STRAIGHT LINE ACROSS TWO LITTLE DITCHES TO A SECOND STILE WHICH HAS STEPS OF CONCRETE BLOCKS UP THE COP.
AT THE OTHER SIDE, WALK ALONG THE LEFT-HAND HEDGE/FENCE-SIDES THROUGH FOUR FIELDS, (FOLLOWING A FURTHER LENGTH OF THE OLD DEAN LANE), TO A GATE LEADING INTO GREEN LANE.
Near this spot used to be a small thatched cottage called Roe Butt, but pronounced, in inimitable Samlesbury style-Raw Boot! For a few years it was the home of William Billington, who later published two volumes of Lancashire verse.
Onc describes his happy boyhood here and the other gives a glimpse of the life of 19th century Samlesbury:
In eighteen hund’ed and nineteen,
When aw’r a lad at Torner Green,
There wornd a woman,
thad aw know,
Fro Goose Heawse Fowt to Fleet ’ud Ho,
Fro Myerscough Smithy to Sykes Wife Lumb,
Bud poncakes med, for 0 as cum;
An’ childer, bless ’em, coom i’ throngs,
Wi’ clatterin clogs, an’ prattlin tongues,
Wi’ cleyn check brats and smilin’ faces –
Like merry men’, at fairs or races,
So wod wur sed, or wod wur done,
They took an’ tornd id into fun,
An‘ skrid’d an’ danced – the Lord be wi’ ’em –
ld fairly dud one good t’ see ’em.
There was also a very touching story concerning a tenant who lived here later:
The earth floor, (apart from the central hearthstone), had never been flagged and there was a tree growing through the roof. Neighbours were very concerned about old Martha and believing her to be very poor and regularly took her food.
However, when she died, a bag of gold sovereigns was found round her neck, which she had bequeathed to St. Mary’s Church. The final length of the old lane turned left here, going past Roe Butt to the dwellings around Sorbrose.
TURN RIGHT, THEN LEFT ALONG SPRING LANE FOR ABOUT A QUARTER OF A MILE.
This part of Samlesbury was known as Sowerbutts Green; an area which stretched approximately from the Hall to Nabs Head and from Hoolster to at least Blue Slate.
A pinfold, (where stray animals were impounded), lay on this part of Spring Lane. It was referred to in 1683 and was still in existence in 1850.
Part of the old sewage works on the right are still in use and the date – B.C. 1897 – indicates Blackburn Corporation, not Before Christ!
Anyball Cross is mentioned in 1556 and stood near the north western corner of the old sewage reservoirs.
THE NEXT STILE IS ON THE LEFT, BY A PAIR OF WIDE GATES. GO ACROSS THE FIELD, BEARING SLIGHTLY RIGHT AND OVER A STILE AND DITCH ONTO THE RECREATION FIELD. WALK ONTO NAB LANE AND TURN LEFT.
This was the centre of Sowerbutts Green and there were a number of loom cottages in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The majority of weaving in Samlesbury was linen and fustian, but there was also blue bratting. This was a half-inch blue and white checked material used for bed covers, bed hangings and women’s frocks, as well as aprons. (See dialect verse.)
On the left used to be Yew Tree Farm, where Grace Sowerbutts lived and next door is Sorbrose House – built of hand made brick – with a small bell set in the end wall. It has a 19th century date, but is possibly re-cast.
It would appear that regular Masses have been celebrated here, as an altar, (which could be quickly dismantled), existed in the attic until the mid 194O’s.
Hints that it may have been an early morning service, have taken the form of unexplained footsteps going upstairs on Sundays at 7.55am!
TURN LEFT AGAIN BY ASHTON FOLD COTTAGE, TO ASHTON FOLD.
This a is the original route of the lower portion of Nab Lane. The cottagc was fagged after an earlier thatch caught fire and the farmhouse dates from about 1630. It has attractive mullioned windows and was enlarged by utilizing matching stone from the ruined Yew Tree Farm.
TURN RIGHT IN THE YARD, STILL FOLLOWING THE OLD LANE TO HALFWAY HOUSE, WHERE TWO STILES LEAD ONTO PRESTON NEW ROAD.
WALK NO. 9B.
If you wish to avoid the excessively busy A677, part of the route can be used, beginning nearly opposite Hole Bottom Cottage. This was licenced for Presbyterian non- conformist worship around 1672 and thereafter, the end portion was known as Chapel Cottage.
GO THROUGH THE GATE WHICH LIES BETWEEN A WALL AND THE HEDGE.
WALK STRAIGHT ACROSS THE FIELD, A FOOTBRIDGE AND A SECOND FIELD, TO JOIN THE PATH AT THE HERMITAGE. (*9) RETURN BY WALKING BACK DOWN SPRING LANE.