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FOR many years I have been fascinated by the English civil War which took place in the 1640s.
The reason for this interest was when a friend of mine in the south of England told me that there were no battles in Lancashire.
How wrong he was except that I suppose they were more skirmishes than full scale battles.
One took place at Read Bridge near Whalley and in a future article I will stroll around this area. There was also a huge siege at Lathom and this week’s stroll explores this event.
1. From the area of the old Bull and Dog cross the busy A59. Descend a narrow road to reach an area dominated by an industrial site and recycling centre.
Leave this on the left and take care as you go towards and then cross the railway line. Look out to the left to see the ruins of Burscough Priory.
There is a good view from the track revealing the Augustinian priory which was founded in 1189.
The Priory was never large and at the dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s there was just the Prior and four monks in residence.
2. Turn left through a field and cross a footbridge to approach Mill Day Farm to the left. This name suggests that the monks once had a watermill here where they ground flour.
3. Bear left up a track, thus avoiding the farm and then turn right and cross a series of stiles before reaching a farm track.
4. Turn right and cross a concrete footbridge. Pass a row of houses and cross a very minor road to reach another farm track. Pass through the buildings of Ayscough Farm and continue along an obvious path through fields towards a very strangely named Needless Inn Farm.
5. By Watkinson’s Farm ignore the main farm track and follow a less obvious but still well marked track. Keep a stand of trees to the right. Cross a footbridge and turn right onto a minor road.
6. Find a sign indicating Lathom and follow this to reveal a set of almshouses and a chapel. This is all that remains of what was the huge complex of Lathom House. This was the power base of the Royalist Stanley family, whose head was the Earl of Derby.
The site is now owned by Pilkinson’s Glass company.
Lathom Park Chapel was built in 1500 and dedicated to St John the Divine.
A close look at the furnishings will reveal a lectern and screen which was brought from Burscough Priory following its dissolution.
7. From the chapel turn right and follow the road beside a golf course.
8. Pass Robinson’s Farm and turn right into Blythe Lane. Cross a stile into a field to see a view of Blythe Hall which is moated and in private hands. The site has been occupied since Norman times.
At one time Blythe Hall was owned by Lord Skelmersdale who was a patron of the arts. The guests included Noel Coward and Ivor Novello.
Turn left close to the hall in the direction of Abbey Farm Caravan site and follow the footpath.
9. Follow the obvious track towards the railway and cross the line to return to the start.
How to get there
Follow the A59 from Preston towards Liverpool. Look out for the old Bull and Dog Inn which is on the right between Ormskirk and Burscough.
Another route from East Lancashire follow the M6 motorway and turn off at Junction 27.
Take the A5209 passing through Parbold to Burscough.
Turn left onto the A59 to reach the old Bull and Dog.
There is parking in the area and there is a “bus service” stopping at the Old Inn.
Distance: 4 miles.
Time: Allow at least two and half hours.