Monday, 25 April 2016

My piece for 'The Bash' magazine.

It has been a winter of dramatic weather with seven storms battering various parts of Britain over the last few months. I thought we would get more snow with the such weather in the village but apparently it is more warmer air flows that have found their passage over these green and pleasant lands.
We have had though two winter flurries of snow over Baxenden and walkers have had the pleasure of two picturesque white outs. The first lasted a few days depositing a good few centimetres. Enough to blanket the area providing crisp, clean air and the eerie stillness of a landscape changed. An absence of green. a loss of detail; fauna and foliage hidden beneath a soft blanket of snow. I took some great photos including ones of the dog whose desire to run through the deeper drifts led to his four furry feet turning into large snowballs. 

Like many I ventured out with the dog acting as husky and headed off down the Shove and down to Priestly Clough by the thicketed riverbank. The old duel tracked line, evidenced by the wide arch of the footbridge one a few dark contrasts set against the white covering. It is such a shame that the line from Baxenden (Accrington) to Manchester closed in 1951. Such a line would make Baxenden an idea commuter town.

There is so much history within Priestly Clough. I presume once the rail line and the river were the main economic arteries for the village. Down by the river bank lies the remnants of the old mill fed by a long deceased water wheel. The dog and I fought our way through the undergrowth and up the other side looking for clues as to the path to Green Haworth. With an absent of signage we were beaten back by snow hidden paths and retreated to river bank winding though thicket and slippy path to meet the conjunction at the bottom of Hill Street of the river and the rail line.

The covering of snow provides a stunning aesthetic as we ventured up towards Hursted and the old industrial centre of the village and the former rail station. Over the last 40 years I have spent many an hour walking this area but it never escapes the attention that the innumerate paths unless well trodden are hidden. Poorly indicated. With a covering snow undiscoverable. It’s an issue that deserves greater attention.

South of Hursted contains a welter of local history. The first half of last weeks Ron Hill 10K, a gruelling climb along the old lines from Accrington to the bottom of and up Alliance Street. A lot of this cherished local history is buried in archives within Accrington Library and it would be such a shame if the closure of our libraries and museums led to not just the physical loss of this history, but a loss of expertise with staff cuts that undermined our ability to discover our past. I for one enjoy the old photographs of Baxenden posted by villagers on the Baxenden Facebook page which add to our history of the village.

The dog and I wandered up snowy Hursted Street taking in the clean and sharper air that winter weather seems to bring. A punishing ascent omitted from the the Ron Hill 10k but one which doesn’t escape victims of the old 'bash grueler'. Now the Poppy day run.

With spring in the air Priestly Clough will once again change with the seasons giving local residents a different perspective on what is a pleasant place.