A week after lockdown easing allowed picnics, we took sandwiches on a slightly longer walk. Initially making our way to the canal again, we walked on the towpath to Stubbings only to find the route blocked. Quickly coming up with Plan B, we crossed the main drag and took the second left turning. Heady scents of pine assailed us. Phil said it smelt of holidays! Oakville Road resembled a poppy field. Dazzling golds and oranges crowded the hedgerows, dancing in the stark sunlight. Arriving at a junction, we continued upwards on Turret Hall Road, becoming hot on the steep switchbacks. We stopped by a patch of bluebells to rest and drink water. Phil looked as though he needed it more than me which was unusual and I rued not bringing more.
Cooler in Rawtenstall Wood, we noted ‘Wood Farm’ seemed to have grown. Just off the track, a dappled clearing housed palettes and rickety lean-tos with tarpaulin draped atop indeterminate piles. I joked the farm actually made wood like in the old PC video game ‘Transport Tycoon’!
We detoured onto a magical-looking small path, scented by more bluebells with smaller flowers studded between the rough hardcore. Reaching what I deduced was Dark Lane, we perched on a wall opposite the pike to eat the packed lunch, enjoying a light breeze and the beautiful scenes.
Coming down Marsh Lane, the views ahead of us omitted the road hidden deep in the valley, suggesting a clear run to the pike. Twisty trees and barbed wire decorated the descent. As signs indicated the Pennine Way, the path became uncomfortably stony underfoot, reminding me that several years ago I’d arrived at the bottom footsore and vowed never to come this way again! The towpath also blocked at Callis, I suggested it was nothing to do with flood repairs but to contain the hippies!
Not quite remembering the best way back to Oakville Road, we eventually found it behind Stoney Bridge. Away from the dusty main road, the scent of wild garlic replaced that of traffic. Crossing back to Stubbing’s we returned to the towpath and rested briefly on lock number 10. To quench the still burning thirst, we popped in the co-op for ice cream. Normally immune to advertising, I had to admit the new magnum ruby red lollies were rather yummy.