Walking is not a hobby that appeals to everyone and perhaps you have found yourself trying to persuade a reluctant friend to give it a try, only to find excuses ranging from a lack of time to a lack of proper footwear, writes Caroline Spalding.
At this time of year its also understandable that you might prefer to undertake an indoor activity instead of facing the wild winter weather outdoors!
This week’s walk is perfect for when you just fancy a short stroll and a bit of fresh air, when you might not have proper walking boots or you don’t fancy the challenge of navigating with a map.
It’s an easy four-mile road walk, yet still allowing you to appreciate wonderful scenery, mainly because by dint of walking on Tarmac, your eyes can wander as you’re not focusing on where to place your next step.
It begins from the car park opposite the former Triangle pub, HX6 3SE, GR SE 043 220, on the A58/Rochdale Road.
The roads we walked follow the same route that is taken during the annual Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival which last year celebrated its 40-year anniversary, however the custom dates back many centuries.
Rushes were used to cover the floors of churches and in late summer, the rushes were replenished for the forthcoming winter, with carts used to remove the old rushes and bring in the new.
Somehow this process developed into a community celebration with competitive construction of different rushcarts to perform the task in and amongst much dancing, drinking and enjoyment of music!
Rushbearing continued after the need to use rushes as a floor covering died out, and nowadays the procession is joined by Morris dancers and music along the route.
The Sowerby Bridge Rushbearing Festival is the last of such celebrations in Yorkshire, but certainly an example of the serendipitous discoveries that walking can bring to your world!
Begin by walking along the main road towards Sowerby, then turning for a short steep climb up Butterworth Lane. Turning right onto Hollin Street, then left at East Street to join a footpath climbing through a field, up some steps along a paved pathway, which re-joins a tarmac lane at the top.
Turn left before joining another path on the right that ascends more steps until entering a field, across which you walk, with a school to your right and in the distance ahead you will see the church tower of Sowerby. Re-joining the road [Dean Lane] head right towards Sowerby village centre, passing the primary school and emerging at the junction in front of St Peters Church.
Turn left to follow Towngate away from the village centre and you’ll come to the Rushcart Inn. Continue along Wellhead Lane; by now you have views of Sowerby Bridge unfolding behind you.
The roads now become quieter, but do beware of tractors and other farm vehicles using the lanes.
I’ve not walked a great deal in this particular area, but looking across the fields to my right certainly gave me a desire to explore it further.
The map shows a huge number of footpaths criss-crossing the countryside, therefore this walk could very easily be extended.
Just before New Barton, turn left onto Hubberton Green Road, then right at the next junction.
Plain Lane runs into Ratten Row Road and Otter Lee Lane, descending towards the church spire visible ahead.
Pass St Mary’s Cottonstones Church, built in 1846, towards the Alma Pub, immediately after that turn left down Alma Lane.
Meeting Lumb Lane, you walk alongside a woodland clough until entering Mill Bank, once home to 600 people sustained by the five local mills producing wool and silk and nowadays a Conservation Area and winner of the Yorkshire in Bloom competition for many years.
Beyond Mill Bank, turn right to descend Dean Lane and the last leg mirrors the main road below as you follow Sandy Dike Lane which returns you to the start.
This simple stroll is perfect when neither time nor the weather encourages a long hike but you’ve still a desire to stretch your legs!