One of the oldest traditions of England was the Boxing Day hunt.
Whatever you think of hunting there can be no doubt that it was a spectacular part of the Christmas holidays in the old days.
I decided to follw a route around Holcombe Moor at the end of November on the day the town of Ramsbottom was cut off by floods. The best way to help places to recover from floods is to visit the shops and pubs and spend some brass the help the local businesses recover.
Start from the railway station. The nostalgic feeling that we all get from the Christmas period is added to by the fact that this line is a tourist steam railway.
From the car park follow Railway Street and ignore a bend to the right. Look out for the site of the old Square Mill built by the Grant brothers in 1821. Ease to the left along a paved track leading to St Andrews church. Continue past the church to the main road and turn left. Look out for the old Dun Horse pub and cross the road. Follow Dundee Road which is another Dundee connection as the brothers were born there. Look out for the old schoolhouse which was built in 1864.
As Dundee Lane narrows look out for Downfield Close and then for a footpath which leads to the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Holcolme village. At another old school look out for bullet holes in the well which were the result of a Zeppelin attack in 1916.
Turn left along Cross Lane.
A very steep track leads ants Holcombe Moor with the Peel Monument prominent and close to the summit. The tower was erected in 1852 to celebrate the life of Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850). He was killed by falling from his horse but not before he had founded the police force. At first they were called Peelers and later as “Bobbies”.
From the Peel Tower bear left across the moor and pass through a gate. After about a mile find the Pilgrims Cross on the right. This was one of the markers set up by the monks of Whalley Abbey from 1166. All that remains of this cross now id the flat support stone but close by is a flagpole. Continue ahead and then turn right to reach a stile.
Pass through the stile and enter Buckden Wood and there still roe deer to be found in this area. The track widens to reach a ladder stile. Cross this and descend into Helmshore Road. Cross this to reach another substantial stile. Follow a fence down to the left and cross two more stiles and a footbridge over a little stream. The obvious track now leads into a narrow road.
Turn left and pass under two bridges, the second carrying the railway. Turn right along a narrow track. Look out for the old Aitkens Mill over the River Irwell.
Cross a bridge over the river and turn right. The old village of Stubbins is now split in two by the railway and a road. The river is on the right. Pass through a gate and follow the path into Kenyon Street. Turn right and cross a bridge over the river. Look out for a spectacular old weir on the Irwell to the right. Go over the level crossing and turn left back to the car park.