This week I was visited by a friend who is starting to put together a book on “The Beautiful Cricket Grounds of England”.
There can be few more beautiful settings than that at White Coppice and he rewally enjoyed strolling this route with me.
He lives in London and was not expectinjg his first ever visit to East Lancashire to be so pretty. We could have told him, couldn’t we?
This stroll should begin with a leisurely study of the hamlet itself. You could be forgiven for thinking that this was a Tudor village but White Coppice did flirt with industry at the beginning of
the Industrial Revolution before cotton became king.
One of the old mill ponds is now much loved by anglers. Before the lodge was built to providee water for the steam engine the machinery was powered by a waterwheel turned by a lovely little stream.
It was around this stream that I watched a heron catch two fish and put the angler on the mill pond to shame.
By 1900 the mill was owned by Alfred Ephraim Eccles who lived at Northwood House. He was a stern supporter of the teetotal movement and woe betide any of his workers who enjoyed a tipple.
Turn right for a short distance along Moor Road and then see a footpath and turn left. Look across the Anglezarke reservoir to see the old Waterman’s cottage.
Here in the winter is the perfect place to watch wildlife but at this time of year the feeder stream into the reservoir is an ideal place to look for marshland flowers such as water mint and the
yellow flag-iris. Next follow a steep climb leading up to a stile.
Cross the stile and continue to climb until you reach a Cairn which marks the summit of Healey Nab, which is 682 feet (208 metres). This area, called Grey Heights, is covered with gorse and heather
and is the haunt of red grouse and short-eared owls, both of which are resident. Look out for some old quarries.
The stone was of such quality that the sites were kept busy at the time that our cotton towns were developing.
The path sweeps right through a conifer wood but the views are not obscured and once again I remember that my walks are called strolls because there is never any need to rush.
On good clear days — and I was lucky enough to have one even in June 2012 — there are views towards Blackpool, Southport and Chorley.
Follow a wide track and then begin a graded descent through another area of woodland. Bear right to reach a stile and pass into a lush meadowland to reach Higher House Lane.
Turn right along this lane but after 200 yards look out for a footpath sign. Turn left and cross another stile into another field.
Here I heard a skylark, a rare species these days. Bear right to another stile and then continue straight ahead. At the road junction turn right and return to the starting point.