A rainy Saturday was superseded by a dazzlingly bright October Sunday. The stunning early autumn colours sizzled in the light. I commented some of the best trees could be seen out the window. Nevertheless, we went out to explore others. Using the erstwhile High Street as a shortcut to the Fox & Goose, we continued on the main road, inordinately busy with walkers and motorists. We turned up Church Lane, veering left at the apex. Previously approached from the top, we were unsure of the best way into Rawtonstall Wood. A sign for Rawtonstall Bank told us we had reached the edge. Noting the tiny Cat Steps were even more overgrown, a discarded sign further up discouraged their use.
We took the next option into the woodland before it got stupidly steep. Deep greens surrounded us on the gentler slope of Green House Lane. At the top, The Hall was obscured by an assortment of vehicles and builder’s materials. We almost walked into the next garden and back-tracked to find a yellow arrow signifying the public path. A carved stone indicated the wall dated back to 1816. Dark Lane, always muddy where springs sprung from adjacent meadows, looked foreboding. I found a stick to help navigate the worst patches and bravely continued. On drier ground, sheep looked obligingly picturesque, grazing against a backdrop of green hills with Stoodley Pike on the skyline.
Heading back down, a chicken coop formerly used as a landmark had been replaced by sheds making us hesitant until we came to a familiar stone arch, also date-stamped. We rested on the memorial bench opposite.
Squeezed between a couple of ornamental evergreens, it was barely big enough for two. As we enjoyed views across the valley, we exchanged cheery greetings with a woman we knew passing by with her daughter. “She’s grown.” Said Phil. “That’s because we haven’t seen them for ages.”
We wended down Turret Hall Road, where zingy oranges capped deciduous emeralds. An uphill cyclist informed us that the colours would be “even better in a couple of weeks.” Well, the grass is always greener, as they say! On reaching Oakville Road, we returned to Burnley Road where a late middle-aged couple asked us the location of the Fox & Goose. It was just as well, seeing as they were going the wrong way.
Crossing at Stubbings, we took the towpath for the home stretch. A woman stopped to enquire if I was ‘the lady’ who wrote the walking articles in Valley Life. “It’s really good!” she enthused. So far, positive feedback had come from friends and acquaintances. Praise from a total stranger made my day!