Sunday, January 27, 2008

Riley Green; the Royal Oak Hotel Pub Stroll Plus

The three and a quarter mile pub stroll from the Royal Oak was extended using the Lancashire A to Z; we walked 6.4115miles in total. For some reason the Gmaps Pedometer will not save the route so I'm unable to add a map; sorry!
However here is a screen capture...
Map of the extended pub stroll
The first steps on our journey took us from the Royal Oak Hotel carpark in Riley Green, a hamlet straggling a main road, up Green Lane. Fine views, on our right of Hoghton Tower, one of Lancashire's most famous stately homes.
Kings were no strangers to staunchly royalist Lancashire and in 1617 the de Hoghton family entertained King James I. Offering him the finest cut of beef reared on the rolling pastures of the Darwen Valley, James I famously knighted his loin -Sir Loin!
Hoghton Tower
Apparently the loyalty proved costly during the Civil War when Hoghton Tower came under siege by the Roundheads and the mansion's tower was partly destroyed.
There were panoramic views for much of the length of this walk, offering glimpses of both Preston and Blackburn. In spite of the rain we have had during the month, it wasn't too bad under-foot and one hour of our time was spent recording 'bird sightings' as part of the RSPB bird watch. Green Plovers and Mallard were the highest counts of the hour but a heron, a lesser spotted wood-pecker, a long-tailed tit and a Jay were the highlights!
A short stop for bananas and water, outside Hoghton Post Office on the A675 and we were off past Brindle Lodge, another imposing building. You may well be thinking, where are the photographs? Well the batteries failed and, for once, I didn't have any spare ones.
The climb from Millstone Farm up to Duxon Hill, was the most difficult part of the walk which was through pleasant countryside.
A visit to the Royal Oak was a must and the olde-worlde atmosphere remains. Four low oak-beamed rooms served by a central bar with good food and beer (Roast Beef and horseradish on brown for Chris and Ham and mustard on white for me; Wainwright Beer to wash it down) In all an excellent walk enjoyed by us both. Pity I was driving as a few more Wainwrights would have gone down a treat!
PS Just tried to save the map again and you may be pleased to know you can view it at

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

A quick catch-up with our visit to Arran and Hadleigh.

As my friends and family know, Ben, our youngest, has been home for Christmas; he went back to San Francisco last Monday. While he was home Chris, Ben and I spent a few days away in Arran. The one place I feel really 'uplifted' and at home.

The Isle of Arran, Scotland is the most southerly Scottish island and sits in the Firth of Clyde between Ayrshire and Kintyre. Arran is 19 miles long by 10 miles wide but has a remarkable diversity of landscapes and seascapes.

The pretty villages on Arran’s beautiful coastline are complemented by a rugged and mountainous interior in the north and green rolling hills and woodland in the south.

If you're reading this and looking to get away from it all, I highly recommend you take the time to uncover the hidden delights of Arran; it really does have something for everyone.

We had clear days...
View from our hotel
and snow...
Another day
We saw seals...
...and Red Deer...
Red Deer
as well as red squirrels, a vast variety of song birds, birds of prey and water-fowl/birds. Ben took some excellent picture that you can view at My pictures are available at

No trip to Arran would be complete without visiting the distillery; a visit enjoyed by all.
Single malt; Mmmmmmmmm
We completed one fairly long and enjoyable walk starting and finishing at Lochranza.
is the most northerly sited of Arran's villages and is located in the north-western corner of Arran. The village is set on the shore of Loch Ranza, a small sea loch. Lochranza is home to Arran's second ferry route, a short trip to Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula south of Tarbert. The whisky distillery opened in 1995, and is easily spotted with its copper pagodas. Castle ruins are located on a curved shingle spit that projects from the southern side of the village. The castle is normally locked but the key can be obtained from Lochranza stores. Lochranza is home to a healthy red deer population and, on the northern shore, grey seals are found year-round. Otters and golden eagles are also spotted in the area. It is also the very first place I stayed at, in Arran, when I was teaching in Phillip Morant School in Colchester Essex in 1986. My how time flies.
The only down side was that we were delayed on the way home due to bad weather; the ferry wouldn't sail due to the difficulties we would encounter entering Ardrossan Harbour. When we did sail we still managed to bump the harbour wall.
The following weekend we all met again at my dads in Hadleigh Suffolk; Ben to see his grandad before returning to the USA (next time they meet Ben will be married) and Mandy and Dave to say goodbye as they embark on their 99 day trip around the world! There wasn't room for me sadly. Dad seemed well and it was nice for all the family to be together again; the last time was a year ago at Mum's funeral. A much happier meeting this time but I kept expecting to see her every time I went into the dining room. We had 'Christmas again; thinking about it, it was the first Christmas of 2008! Lynn, and Bec paid us a brief visit on the Saturday and Pete on the Sunday before 'bell-ringing'. Ben has gone 'home' now and Chris and I are back to normal (what ever that is). Below you will find todays walk; I know it is a bit out of sequence but as everyone else tells me, 'it is finding the time'!.
I'll just leave this blog with an image, taken on Arran, that we came across when walking along the North East coast of Arran...
The heart of Scotland!

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The Lord Nelson, Croston

Our walk today is the first of a number of "Pub Strolls" starting by the village green in the centre of Croston (a farming village situated on the A581 halfway between Southport and Chorley. You can view a map of the walk at
We parked next to the medical centre, behind the pub, and as we headed out of the carpark towards a thatched cottage...
Confusing sign
the sign to the right of the front door was a little confusing...
So what was the door on the left?
So was the back door the one on the left of the sign? Is it me?
Apparently 'cross-town', Croston, was built around an ancient holy cross and was for centuries the market centre for the extensive mosslands stretching westwards to the sea. The number of inns testifies to this former importance and makes it an attractive starting point for walks. Red-brick houses, cobbled streets and bridges over the River Yarrow are the main feature of Croston.
Opposite the Grapes pub; the River Yarrow.
The original settlement was founded upon a crossing point of the River Yarrow. A less well known Lancashire river which rises in the Chorley foothills, meandering westward to join the River Douglas (mentioned on a number of previous walks).
The three and a quarter mile walk is entirely flat, leaving the River Yarrow behind as it wanders over Croston Moss along farm tracks before returning to the heart of the village and back over the river.
There is no point in doing a pub stroll if you don't visit the pub. It was what I would call a "drinker's pub".
The Lord Nelson, Croston
It lays claim to being the oldest inn in Croston; apparently quite popular but small, cosy and 'rural'. Drinkers were concerned about the level of the Yarrow and 'How to self-certificate' so they still got paid. Apparently the former was affected by the tides (a chart of which was hanging on the wall).
We enjoyed a swift pint before heading to Martin Mere, on the way home, for a bite to eat. Chris wanted to see if the Eider Ducks were 'performing; Oooooo! The were not and, no surprise to anybody, the beavers were no where to be seen either! I hadn't seen this carving on previous visits and it was likely to be the only beaver we see here.
Carving at Martin Mere
I think Chris and I have decided that, when the nights get lighter we will try fit in at least one Pub Stroll a week and include a meal out. Watch this space.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Raven Meols Hills will take you to a map of todays walk, the first in 2008.
Making the most of the fine 'Liverpool Bay Beach' and dune walking, our walk explored the National Trust Nature Reserve with its rare natterjack toad and red squirrel. Sad to say neither were on view today. The Red Squirrel have recently been hit hard by a 'squirrel pox' with lots of death among the colony.
Many waders, gulls and migrant birds feed along the shoreline here and both Chris and I have seen semi-fossilised hoofprints of the auroch, a huge, now extinct, beast that grazed the saltmarshes during Neolithic times, when they have been exposed in the inter-tidal sediments.
The reedy pond, a small wildlife area with ducks, coots and moorhens in abundance...
Wildlife pond
was crossed by a wooden bridge where we paused to take some pictures.
Spring is getting close
After passing Sandfield Farm we passed fields that sadly are no longer are used to grow the much praised 'Formby Asparagus'; what is the world coming to? Our path then took us through Nicotine Wood where, according to our guide, the path wanders agreeably. What does that mean? I think the author was trying too hard.
Upon returning to the car park we drove back for an ice cream and toilet stop at the entrance. Fat pigeons, magpies and crows were all that could be seen in this usually squirrel abundant area. I do hope the red squirrels recover from this outbreak of pox and that they return in great numbers.

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